Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Enjoying the sites of Khasab, in Musandam, could be more difficult for UAE residents wanting to enter the Omani enclave.
Enjoying the sites of Khasab, in Musandam, could be more difficult for UAE residents wanting to enter the Omani enclave.

Trips to Musandam harder with stricter UAE border rules

With map: Crossing into Oman from Dibba will be more difficult as Sharjah authorities demand UAE residents to offer proof of a hotel stay or a booking with a dhow operator.

SHARJAH // Authorities have tightened up the border rules at Dibba, making it harder for outdoors enthusiasts to cross into Oman’s Musandam Peninsula.

Hundreds escape the city life of Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the hills of Musandam to camp, hike or climb, especially in cooler months.

Sharjah authorities at the unofficial border crossing at Dibba have been demanding that UAE residents present proof of a hotel stay or booking with a dhow operator to enter Oman. They say they are enforcing a Ministry of Interior directive.

Residents must also send a copy of their passport and visa to the hotel at which they will stay. Those who book with dhow and dive companies must send details 48 hours in advance.

All of this makes it difficult for day-trippers to make spontaneous trips to the Omani enclave.

Pete Aldwinckle, who has been rock climbing in the region for the past nine years, said it had made him and his friends think twice about crossing the border.

“It’s a positive lifestyle decision instead of going to have a brunch,” Mr Aldwinckle said. “It’s a playground out there for outdoor activities no matter what you’re into, and it’s world-class in some cases, and this uncertainty is putting people off.”

Amy Subaey, the organiser of UAE Trekkers, said her group would no longer arrange hikes into Dibba after the red tape she had encountered.

Trekkers usually spend the night camping. Now they must book and pay for a hotel breakfast the next morning to provide proof for police.

Ms Subaey said getting all of the passport copies and money for the hotels made it too much work.

“A lot of people didn’t believe me at first,” she said.

On her group’s last trip, before the rules were properly implemented, eight Indian nationals were refused permission to leave the UAE.

They had a hotel booking but not the right paperwork, something Ms Subaey did not know was required.

She said UAE Trekkers probably would not offer another trip to the area until next year.

 

 


View Dibba border crossing in a larger map

 

Mr Aldwinckle said there were about 60 rock climbers who regularly went through the Dibba crossing, but as the months became cooler more would be affected by the new rules.

“It’s the uncertainty,” he said. “Will I get up at 3am to drive to get on a crag at 5am for first light or will I be sitting at home eating toast? It’s really difficult to know the rules.”

Businesses in Oman are also feeling the effects and have had to deal with extra paperwork.

“It’s affecting business tremendously here,” said Tarek Khalil, general manager of Al Marsa Musandam, a dive and dhow operator.

“We have all the diving centres, travel agents, the Six Senses Resort … those businesses work on bookings and reservations and walk-ins.”

But foot traffic has all but vanished and only those who hold tourist visas are exempt from the rules.

Mr Khalil said that when bookings came from UAE residents, he asked for scanned copies of their passports and residency visas.

“We take it from there,” he said.

Companies must give an official letter with the names and origins of their guests to Dibba police station.

Mr Khalil said this was to ensure visitors had no legal problems or holds on their passports. Two days later, the police grant approval, and stamp and sign the letter. He sends a photocopy of the approval letter in case the original goes missing at the border.

“Visas are not required, so why are they making our businesses so difficult?” Mr Khalil said.

Lisa Schwaiger, marketing manager at Sheesa Beach dhow cruises and dive centre in Dibba, said it was irritating for customers who had to scan their passports, especially if they were booking for a large group.

“We can’t accept last-minute bookings, and some of the customers don’t want to send to copies of their passport and visas as they are private documents,” Ms Schwaiger said.

“Our customers, like Asian people, Indian people, they don’t have a chance but if they’re white they’ve a 50 per cent chance of getting over [with no booking]. Some take the chance and get in.”

Representatives from the Omani ministry of tourism were not available for comment.

eharnan@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Marina Square apartments Reem Island: Q1 2% rise. Studio - Dh65-68,000. 1BR - Dh75-95,000. 2BR - Dh110-145,000. 3BR - Dh170-190,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 no change. Sammy Dallal / The National

In pictures: Where Abu Dhabi rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Abu Dhabi have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Courtesy Al Ittihad

Time frame: It’s all going swimmingly

Built on what was originally a public park, Ain Al Faida - the flowing source - became one of the country’s first resort hotels when it opened in the mid 1970s.

 A model of the plans for Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District, which was on display at the Global Cityscape exhibition at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre last year. Ali Haider / EPA

Building the future on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island

Nick Leech meets Jassim Al Hammadi, the engineer charged with providing the services that will make the Saadiyat Cultural District tick.

 Ashish Nehra of Chennai Super Kings bowls to Kings XI Punjab at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Hard-hitting Chennai not deterred by opening loss in IPL

But some questions remain about the team's attack ahead of Monday's match against Delhi Daredevils in Abu Dhabi, writes Osman Samiuddin.

 From left: Alex Ritman, his favorite waiter and friend Andy Tillett at Baithal Ravi in 2009. Courtesy Alex Ritman

Lamenting Bur Dubai’s Baithal Ravi Restaurant

When I heard that a fire had ripped through the restaurant known as Ravis in the Bur Dubai district of Dubai, my outburst was met with echoed monosyllabic despair among numerous friends on social media.

 Screen shot from Vin Deisel's facebook page of he and Michelle Rodriguez in Abu Dhabi for the filming of Fast & Furious 7. April 2014

Fast & Furious in Abu Dhabi, a social media frenzy

Fast & Furious 7 wraps up an eventful and much-anticipated week of filming in the capital. Let's take a look at what went on via the key players' social media, while they were enjoying the delights of the desert.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National