Our complete list of the interesting and sometimes eerie abandoned sites in the UAE you can still visit
20 September 2020| Last updated on 18 February 2021
Explore destinations in the UAE that time forgot...
As the UAE continues to relax some of its precautionary regulations against Covid-19, many people are visiting the Emirates' most popular destinations, from beaches to record-breaking attractions. But if you're looking to brave from the beaten path, read on.
The country features some interesting abandoned places. Some may be off-limits, others beg for an explanation to their mystery, and a few are still standing strong and proud.
In all their faded glory, these abandoned sites in the UAE are guaranteed to satisfy the appetites of local explorers and draw you to some of the country's outermost obscure sights.
With that in mind, we’ve scoured all seven emirates, every alley and every inch of the desert, to find the most fascinating abandoned places in the UAE for those seeking to change the way they travel.
1. Ghost Village Al Madam in Sharjah
There's something alluring about the sites that time forgot, and the abandoned Al Madam village in Sharjah is one of them.
Widely known as the Al Madam Ghost Village, Al Ghuraifa village, or the Al Madfouna village, this site is a collection of houses that over time has been reclaimed by the desert. The settlement was originally established as a community to provide housing to a population of UAE Bedouin people.
The story behind the abandonment varies, though most of the tales suggest the village was built in the 1970s - 1980s. From there, the story diverges.
One popular theory is that the village was haunted by djinns - demons and otherworldly beings that spooked the residents out of the area.
Another theory, put forward by travel blogger HideInMySuitcase, is that the villages lacked proper water and electrical facilities, turning the settlement into a unlivable place.
But the realistic story comes from a Khaleej Times interview with the former residents of the abandoned village. According to the article, the residents left the place in the late 1990s when the local government established new housing as well as financial compensation.
How to get to Al Madam village
2. Abandoned plane crash at Al Awir Desert
If you follow any UAE influencer on Instagram, you may have seen the crash site of an abandoned plane in the Al Awir desert (or Al Aweer) in Dubai pop up at some point in your feed.
Just like the Al Madam village in Sharjah, this crash site is shrouded in mystery, but even more so because there isn't much solid information to be found about the plane at all. To this day, only rumours and speculation surround the place.
Some local reports from The National and Emirates 247 may suggest that the site is the remnant of a plane crash drill that took place in 2011 for emergency responders. However, this hasn't been explicitly confirmed by officials.
How to get to the abandoned plane crash site at Al Aweer Desert
To visit the abandoned plane crash site, click here for the Google Maps location.
3. Al Qasimi Palance in Ras Al Khaimah
Ras Al Khaimah's most "haunted" home, the Al Qasimi Palace, was abandoned decades ago and has since been shrouded in speculation and secrets.
The opulent property was originally established as a home for the late Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Humaid Al Qasimi's family. After just one night of staying there, they all fled the home after they said it was haunted.
Allegedly, the family experienced unexplained movements, heard strange noises and saw ghostly apparitions.
When you enter the home, you will find 35 abandoned rooms with unused crystal chandeliers, lavish statues, artwork, murals, marble pathways, and luxury furniture.
Photo: russkiy @ livejournal
Previously coated in dust, the Al Qasimi Palace reopened in late 2019 as a new tourist attraction for "ghost chasers". Tickets are available and can be purchased on-site.
For more information about the Al Qasimi Palace in Ras Al Khaimah, click here for our complete guide.
How to get to the Al Qasimi Palace in Ras Al Khaimah
You can find the Al Qasimi Palace just after the Horse Race Track in Ras Al Khaimah. Click the image below for the exact Google Map location.
4. Al Jazirah Al Hamra old town in Ras Al Khaimah
Known as the "The Red Island" or Al Jazirah Al Hamra, this settlement in Ras Al Khaimah was established in the 14th or 16th century.
Before oil was discovered in the UAE, the residents of Al Jazirah Al Hamra relied on pearling and fishing as their bread and butter. In fact, many of the unused houses were built using bricks made out of seashells and sand, or coral stone.
By 1830, an estimated 200 to 400 people inhabited the neighbourhood. However, it became near-deserted by the 1960s.
Unlike other mysterious abandoned sites in the UAE, this "ghost village" has a pretty straightforward history.
As the global market for pearls took a downturn, more and more villagers left the settlement to relocate and find other work.
Some locals suggest that fighting broke out among the family residents in Al Jazirah Al Hamra, claiming it to be the reason why people left.
Of course, a popular theory is that the locals left the village because it was haunted. Regardless of which version of the story you choose to believe, the Al Jazirah Al Hamra villages makes for a fascinating trip.
A word of caution to those interested in visiting the site: not all the houses and constructions are safe due to age and disrepair. Some spots have unstable flooring and stairs, and other parts of the architecture may fall without warning.
How to get to Al Jazirah Al Hamra village in Ras Al Khaimah
To visit the abandoned old village, click here for the Google Map location.
5. Abandoned airplane in Umm Al Quwain
Similar to the abandoned plane crash site at the Al Aweer Desert in Dubai, this abandoned plane in Umm Al Quwain comes with its unknown history.
What we do know is that it is an Ilyushin IL 76 plane, manufactured in the Soviet Union for military purposes. The aircraft landed in Umm Al Quwain in the late 1990s in a closed airfield. What comes after are mere speculations.
There are no signs against exploring the abandoned plane, so you can check out the impressive aircraft and even visit the cockpit inside. Be careful though as it a very old aircraft.
How to get to the abandoned airplane in Umm Al Quwain
To visit the abandoned airplane click here for the Google Map location.
The aircraft is located near the Barracuda Resort and Dreamland Aqua Park.
6. Villa 4 in Jumeirah, Dubai
A seven-bedroom home in Jumeirah 1, Dubai was a hot topic of discussion back in 2011 for paranormal rumours. Expat residents at this allegedly haunted villa claimed they experienced unusual and frightening noises, movements, and unexplained events inside the house.
As a result, the inhabitants fled the home.