Two hours away from Dubai: Smuggler’s Bay

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The clear blue waters of Smuggler’s Bay.

With Dubai’s scorching summer behind me, I’ve been anxious to squeeze in as many outdoor activities as possible and get away from all the concrete and glass of the desert city.

My first trek this year was the route to Smuggler’s Bay in Dibba, Oman, a coastal area at the northern tip of the Arabian peninsula which faces Iran. This stunning bay was named for all the illegal immigrants that have smuggled into the UAE from the Iranian coast.

We traversed up and down the Al-Hajar Mountain ranges by the coast and saw several coves and bays accessible only by boat or mountain trekking. Throughout the route, there were old ratty clothes and slippers discarded haphazardly. My guides told me these belonged to the immigrants, who were often sold the lie that they would land on the coast of Dubai.

My guides showed me a bleached-white human skull they had found on one of their reconnaissance treks to Smugglers Bay — a stark reminder of people who might have died in their search for a better life and of all who are still trying.

Along the trail, we made a detour to see old ruins of a 16th-century settlement which was surrounded by hundreds of tombstones. The Omanis who had lived there had flocked to the mountains during the Portuguese occupation, and built their new homes with the rocks in the area to blended into their surroundings.

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Rugged and barren landscape atop Al Hajar Mountains, with the occasional Acacia tree.
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My first sight of Smuggler’s Bay.
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More Acacia trees growing by the shore.
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A human skull close to the shores of Smuggler’s Bay.
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Rugged coastlines of Dibba, Oman.
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Hundreds of tombstones dating back to the 1500s.
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Heavy limestone and ophiolite remains of the old town.
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The view from the old Omani town overlooking the Gulf of Oman.

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