• Tom Bushell

Hiking // This Wadi Shees trail is an amazing oasis in the desert // UAE

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

Wadi Shees in the Emirate of Sharjah provides a walk surrounded by flowing fresh water and huge amounts of vegetation - in the UAE, that’s a rare event…

  • Embark on a walk with the sound of flowing fresh water in the UAE

  • Sound of flowing water offers a completely different UAE experience

  • Travel along the new S142 road including the Middle East's longest road tunnels

  • 60 minutes from Dubai

  • Incredible views of an oasis of date palm trees and the Hajar Mountains

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Wow, a hike (well, more of a walk but more on that later) that is surrounded in flowing fresh water and an endless amount of green vegetation in the United Arab Emirates. Wadi Shees is a rarity in this Gulf country but once you've watched the video and read this article, you'll want to explore the area, especially if you live in the UAE.

The Wadi Shees Nature Trail will only take you around 45 minutes to complete, perhaps a little longer if you take in all the information boards, the views and stop to enjoy the sound of running fresh water but just an hour away form Dubai, you'll be silly not to do it.


Driving to Wadi Shees on the new S142 road towards Khor Fakkan


The drive to Wadi Shees is easy and hassle free. From the E611 you'll turn east onto the S142 road. It's the new road that connects Sharjah on the west coast to Khor Fakkan on the east coast.

The highlights are the series of tunnels - some the longest in the Middle East - you will drive through that cut through the Hajar Mountains as you approach Khor Fakkan.

You'll only go through one tunnel to reach the turn off you need for Wadi Shees, but if you are in that area, you may as well venture into Khor Fakkan as well.

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One tip I should point out is that the S142 does not have any petrol stations, (I may have had a close call), so make sure you are topped up before the 50 minute stretch on this road.

Once you have turned right straight after the first tunnel and just past the 'Welcome to Khor Fakkan' sign you will drive past Shees Park. You then just need to follow the road downhill and after a few minutes you will see the start point to the nature trail.


Walking the Wadi Shees Nature Trail is utterly refreshing

The United Arab Emirates is a tremendous country for hiking with its dramatic mountain landscape. Hikes such as Wadi Shawka and Al Rabi Tower are impressive adventures, but Wadi Shees offers something totally different.

What is that difference I hear you ask? The sound of fresh flowing water I tell you! It's encapsulating, it transports you to a different world, it's not only a change of scenery but also a change for your senses in the United Arab Emirates.

The Wadi Shees trail begins where you park the car, next to a big information board, which has a map of your walk ahead.

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You'll then proceed into a green oasis and begin to climb a staircase that has recently been refurbished to make it easier for walkers.

The higher you go, the views that emerge across wonderful date palm trees in the foreground and the rising Hajar Mountains in the background is a unique view in the United Arab Emirates.

There are so many trees! And, is that flowing water I can here close by?? It is... stick with me.

Welcome to the old village of Shees!


At the top of the staircase, stop and take in the views. You will then make a right hand turn as you enter the old community of Shees.

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Once a busy settlement and a place the ruler of Sharjah, HH Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi often visited, the village is now largely used by local farmers. Take a moment to stop and read the information boards, they are very good explaining the area.

As you walk, the sound of flowing water increases, you'll feel an air of excitement as you sense something different on a UAE walk edging ever closer.


The Wadi Shees Falaj system

Wadi Shees is one of very few areas in the UAE with flowing fresh water all year round. The reason for the flowing fresh water is thanks to the Falaj system which was built over 3000 years ago.

The system was designed to direct fresh rainfall that collects in underground wells in nearby mountaintops to communities and farmland that need the water.

Recently, the Wadi Shees Falaj system has been refurbished and is working as good as it once was 3000 years ago.

The United Arab Emirates on average receives less than 100mm of rainfall per year, meaning the Falaj system is vital in allowing a constant supply of fresh water.

The result of the Falaj system is a consistent flow of water through the water channels, much of which you are able to walk across the top off and listen to the wonderful sound of the running water flow – which is a sound you soon forget about in the UAE.

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Once you have walked through the village of Shees, you’ll continue along the Falaj channels, past local farmland before eventually walking down some steps back to the road.

Once on the road, head right back up the road to where you parked the car.


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Why you should walks the Wadi Shees nature Trail


I don’t know about you but I have always loved being close to water, especially running fresh water. A big river to hike along, getting up close to waterfalls, diving into fresh water lakes and the likes of.

In the United Arab Emirates, you become accustomed to that not being an option, and the only sound of water you are most likely to here in the country is at a 5* hotel with its welcoming fountains, or a waterpark, or of course Dubai's biggest fountains in the world in the Downtown district.

There are so many reasons to do this Wadi Shees walk, not least to be surrounded by fresh water and vegetation in a otherwise desert country but to see the engineering marvel of the Falaj system is on its own a brilliant experience. I fully recommend a visit.


Extra Tips:

  • Wadi Shees is about an hour's drive from Dubai.

  • There are no bathroom facilities during the walk.

  • There is plenty of shade throughout the walk.

  • You are not allowed to swim in the fresh water reservoir which you pass on the trail.

  • Keep the trail tidy taking any litter with.

  • Simple trainers will be sufficient footwear.

How to get to Wadi Shees:

  • Wadi Shees is available on Google maps

  • From the E611 turn east along the new S142 in Sharjah

  • Drive for about 50 minutes towards Khor Fakkan

  • Once you have passed through the first tunnel turn right to Wadi Shees

  • Drive past Shees Park and downhill to the start point

Covid-19:

Face masks should be worn whenever close to other people.