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Madha, Oman

Here, we leave the United Arab Emirates for a small excursion into Oman. In the United Arab Emirates, we saw sections of border fences and walls up close in Al Ain and Dibba Al-Hisn for the main part of Oman and the Omani enclave on the Musandam peninsula respectively. However, to cross into these parts of Oman would have required various red tape obstacles to proceed. Here, our visit into Oman involved a different option and that was a visit to Madha, a 75 km² (29 sq mi.) Omani enclave surrounded by the UAE, that does not require passports and visa stamps to enter. It is located halfway between the Musandam Peninsula and the rest of Oman. Whilst driving along the east coast of UAE northwards from Al Fujairah, we took a small detour west up to the Oman border at Madha and parked. The visit to Madha would be on foot, as the car insurance was not valid for Oman. The zoomable map below shows where Madha is located.  

Map courtesy of

The boundary surrounding Madha was settled in 1969. Madha is mostly empty, although a short walk from the car took us to a built up area called New Madha. The town has a school, a post office, police station, bank, electricity and water supplies, and an airstrip. The town also has a mosque and the call for prayer somewhat drowned the place out with sound bouncing around from the neighbouring mosques and the surrounding hillsides. That said, we found it a very calm and quiet place. We wandered along numerous residential roads, the vehicles showing some evidence of people from the UAE owning homes there.
There is everything you would expect here from entering another country; the post office is Omani, as are the local police, and the standard beep of a text message sound welcoming you to a new mobile phone operator for the country.
Our visit was slightly spoilt by rain. We found the locals extremely friendly - one man invited us into his humble abode for coffee and a conversation which basically comprised nods, smiles and then reciprocal photos of each other, whilst sitting on his fine hand-woven carpet. As we walked back to the UAE and our car, we were offered lifts from two passing vehicles because of the weather and it would appear that one of them had purposefully driven out of the town for us as after we explained we only had another 200m to walk, the driver turned around back into town.

For any fans of enclaves and exclaves, inside Madha, there is an exclave of the UAE called Nahwa. Therefore, Nahwa is part of the UAE, surrounded by Oman, which is in turn surrounded by the UAE. A similar situation may be found with The Netherlands and Belgium and is discussed here on my Baarle page. There is an interesting article here all about Madha for further reading.