top of page

Conquering Jebel Jais: A Beginner's Guide to Hiking the UAE's Highest Public Point

A hike that has to be done when visiting the UAE and seeking adventure

Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE

If you're visiting the UAE and you are in the mood for a really good adventure, hiking Jebel Jais has to be at the top of your list.

Whilst Dubai and Abu Dhabi get all the headlines in the United Arab Emirates, you'll be surprised at what you can find within just a couple of hours drive from the cities if its adventure you are looking for.

Jebel Jais is a great day out for even casual hikers. It may be the highest public point in the UAE, but don't let that scare you, this hike is doable for most people. Yes, it’s challenging at times, but in equal measure there are parts that are pretty straightforward where you can leisurely walk along the trails. You don’t need technical kit. Shorts, t-shirts, a good pair of solid trainers (although some good hiking boots are better for ankle support) and a backpack of supplies such as water and food will do you fine. In the winter months it's a good idea to pack some warmer top-layers in a bag too as often the temperature at Jebel Jais can be as low as 10 degree cooler than sea level.


Of course, if you are unfamiliar with the mountains in the UAE and you are thinking about heading to the country's highest point, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were heading to the viewing deck at the top of the world's tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Whilst the high-speed evaluator's are fun, climbing Jebel Jais is a lot more fun (and cheaper).


The Al-Hajar mountain range is where you'll find Jebal Jais, the biggest mountain range in the eastern Arabian peninsula and from Dubai it is about a two-hour drive away. Jebel Jais is nestled on the UAE and Oman border in Ras Al Khaimah and it’s a mountain that is easily accessible by car with a brilliant mountain drive in store before you start hiking.


The journey from Dubai is a straightforward drive with highways taking you to the foot of the mountain before you turn on to the mountain road where you’ll weave upwards for about 30 minutes before reaching the hike starting point.

How to hike Jebel Jais

The UAE's highest public point at Jebel Jais, UAE
The UAE's highest public point at Jebel Jais, UAE

The Start

The starting point of the hike is at the Viewing Deck Park. It’s on the right as you drive up the mountain road, about 2 kilometres before the end of the public road. The higher you go on the mountain road, keep an eye out for it and you can’t miss it with its big sign when you reach it.

It’s a perfect starting point including great facilities with toilets and brilliant views across the surrounding mountains. There are food huts, but don’t rely on it being open during out-of-office times.


In my experience it is only open at weekends and not before 8am. It does serve great refreshments though including ice cream which when you finish the hike, is the perfect conclusion.

You do have to pay to park in the car park, and you will be charged AED5 for every person in the car. Take cash with you.


Before you start the hike, you will need to register at the booth next to the food hut so your whereabouts on the mountain is known. Having said that, I have been before when nobody has been around so it is a bit hit or miss.


Either way, tell a friend or family member who is not hiking with you where you are going and what your schedule is.


To start the hike, you’ll cross the main road, walk up some stairs and reach another viewing area where you can look towards the coast before embarking on your mission to reach the UAE’s highest public point.

Stage One

The hike is signposted. At intermittent points you will see posts that will have arrows on them to keep you on track. To the summit, you’ll be following the green ‘Ghaf Summit 7’ signs.


Also along the way, there are paint markings at pretty regular intervals with the colours maroon, white and yellow which will keep you going in the right direction.


The first 30 minutes of the hike will wear you out. It’s a steep climb to the top of the first high point, marked with a massive UAE flag.


After the path begins with a gradual incline you will quickly move into a steep ascent climbing steps pretty much all the way to the top.

If you want to do this part in the shade, the earlier you set off the better. The sun will already be on this part of the mountain before 8am.


It is a fun, intense start and the legs will be working hard and you’ll more than likely be out of breath on occasions, (well, I was) but the views get better and better the higher you go.

Eventually, just as you think the steps will never end, you’ll see the first summit come into view. It is called the Viewing Deck Park Summit at 1,415 metres.


Take the opportunity to sit by the flag, take in the view, have some water, but most importantly get your breath back.

Once you are ready to carry on, you will rejoin the ‘Ghaf Summit 7’ path and walk around 25 minutes to the second rest point.


This stretch is pretty straightforward with undulating tracks but nothing too steep or tricky. You’ll more than likely come across some goats that are roaming the mountain.


At times, you will see their climbing abilities are quite extraordinary as they clamber around the rock faces.

The staircase at the beginning of the Jebel Jais summit hike
The staircase at the beginning of the Jebel Jais summit hike

Stage Two

Rest point two looks more like a bus stop. It’s a bench with a roof for some shade and a decent place to stop for a bit. You can take in more amazing views and also look up to the summit, which would be around your 11 o’clock point as you look out towards the road.


When you get up to begin hiking again, be sure to follow the ‘Ghaf Summit 7’ track, which heads behind the bus stop style rest point. There is a path that leads you in front of the rest point but this is the ‘connection’ path and takes you straight back to the public road.


It’s like an escape route if you decide you don’t want to continue the main hike. I have mistakenly taken this path before and it’s a little frustrating when you realise your mistake and have to turn back to where you were. Still, a few more steps added!

Much the same undulating nature follows for this next stretch and you’ll notice the path at times comes very close to the edge. It’s not a problem and you don’t feel unsafe, but if you are hiking with kids, just be aware so that they aren’t running blindly away from you.


You’ll pass the Jebel Jais adventure base building and restaurant on your right as you weave across the mountain before you eventually come across a stone seating area with a couple of stone tables. It’s not a bad place to sit for little breather before you start heading upwards again to reach the summit.

Stage Three


You'll carry along the path, much of it newly laid tracks in the last couple of years before you reach the base of the final climb to the summit.

The final climb isn't as bad as that first initial climb, but it still takes some work – as all final ascents to a summit should!


You will then reach the first summit signpost which marks the north summit point, and not far after that you will reach your destination, the south summit. The UAE’s highest public point!

The Return

Jebel Jais, a guide to hiking to the UAE's highest public point
The views from the mountains of Jebel Jais are endless

The hike is not a loop, so essentially the summit is the half way point. You’ll head back down the same way you headed up.


The great part about this hike is the cooler temperatures you experience. It is often around 10 degrees cooler on this hike compared to sea level temperatures.


Don’t get me wrong, in the summer months it is still hot but it is more likely to be in the mid-thirties rather than the low-forties. There is also a nice cool breeze at times.


Think hot European summer climates rather than very hot desert Middle Eastern climates. If you’re hiking in the winter, it’s worth taking some warmer clothes with you just incase you feel chilly at times.

On the final descent down that dreaded first steep climb you did, be a little careful on the steps and downward paths. The sand can be a little slippery and the gravel loose, so it’s just a case of taking your time.


Proceed with caution as they say!


Once you’ve got down, well done! Congratulations, you have made it to the highest public point of the UAE and been almost twice the height of the world’s tallest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa - with not one single elevator in sight!


Time for you to give yourself a tap on the back and grab an ice cream from the food hut. It’ll taste delicious – (if it’s open).

Watch how to hike Jebel Jais

How to get to Jebel Jais:

  • From Dubai, head north on the 311.

  • Turn off to the right at junction 126 which is shortly before the 311 bears left as it enters Ras Al Khaimah city.

  • Follow the road through to the 611 and head north signposted ‘Oman’.

  • Around 15-20 minute further, turn right, signposted ‘Jebel Jais’.

  • Follow the mountain road and Jebel Jais signposts up the mountain road to the Viewing Deck Park.

  • *Navigation apps will be able to guide you to Jebel Jais Viewing Deck Park.


Jebel Jais hike requirements:

  • A good pair of hiking boots are recommended but suitable trainers are okay.

  • Plenty of water – I recommend around 3 litres, especially in the hotter months.

  • A towel – to keep dry from perspiration.

  • A backpack with supplies such as food and snacks.

  • A charged mobile phone.

  • Sunscreen and a hat.

  • First Aid kit.

  • Take cash to pay for parking.

  • Average time for full hike - 4 hours.


bottom of page