In this new episode of Adventures, we go hiking in the mountains and Valley of the Caves, discover ancient marine fossils in the desert, and sweep over the rolling red sand dunes in an off-road buggy.
Mleiha is a UNESCO-nominated World Heritage Site in Sharjah, UAE, and home to some of the most important archaeological discoveries including Bronze Age tombs, forts and fossils.
The Mleiha Archaeological Centre allows visitors to learn about the ancient settlers in the region and charts their history from the Palaeolithic, Neolithic, Bronze, Iron, pre-Islamic, and Islamic ages to the modern ages.
Hiking trails adorn the nearby mountains including the Valley of the Caves where guests can take part in guided tours.
Tharindu Wickrama Achchillage, Deputy Head of Operations & Tourism Development at Sharjah Investment & Development Authority told Euronews, “So [it’s] Neolithic… ‘neo’ standing for new, ‘lithic’ meaning stone. We're talking about new Stone Age sites. These are sites that contained artefacts like arrowheads and blades that were carved out of flint that we find all around us.”
Commenting on the many caves dotted across the vast mountain scape he added,” These were places more so used for temporary stays. So, storms and things like that, where they needed to hide away. Storing food, stone tools, things like that.”
Sheikha Nawar Al Qassimi is Vice President of the Sharjah Art Foundation. Having grown up in the emirate, she’s a keen outdoors enthusiast and regularly hikes the big trails.
“It's special because it's right at our doorstep, first of all. And there are so many sites like this in Sharjah, there are so many spaces to explore, and it's quite easy," she explained. "You don't have to be like an expert hiker to come out here.”
With a rich history and breathtaking landscapes, it’s also one of the country’s top desert adventure destinations thanks to the rolling red sand dunes.
Off-road buggy racing is one of the most popular adventure activities in the Mleiha desert. High-octane and adrenaline-fuelled, thrill seekers can race through the sands next to Fossil Rock.
It’s embedded with marine fossils that would have lined the seabed 60 million years ago.
Nearby, Camel Rock is also a geographical wonder that dates back 80 million years and is named as such because it’s shaped like a camel head.
These landmark rock formations are surrounded by some of the most scenic desert trails in the UAE. Stargazing and camping are also popular with those in search of adventure as they flock to the region to experience the rugged landscape and all it has to offer.
“Sharjah is real. It is what it is and doesn’t try to be anything else […] It’s got everything from arts, culture, music, education, film, hiking nature. You see people from everywhere, and it’s a very authentic experience of what this region has to offer,’ adds Sheikha Nawar Al Qassimi.