Jabel Hafeet (also spelled; Jabal, Jebal, Jebel) is one of Al Ain’s claims to fame. It is one of the highest mountain in the area (4,068 ft / 1240m) . I have an earlier post about Green Mubazarrah, which is the green area and hot springs at the base of the mountain. And just like I had to adjust my thinking of what a green area means, I have had to adjust my thinking of what the word mountain means. For me, a mountain conjured up the image of either Mount St. Helens or Mount Hood, but both covered in snow where people go to snow skiing or snowboarding. Jabel Hafeet is more like a big desert rock. There is no snow, and if you want to go skiing, you go Ski Dubai in the Mall of the Emirates.
I have been up the mountain three times. The first time I went up the mountain was just a few weeks after arriving in Al Ain. It was at night and in a Camero. Even though it was was dark, the lights leading up the road light everything up making for a very cool drive. Unfortunately, I went up with a dead camera, but here are some website photos to give you an idea of what it is like going up Jabel Hafeet Mountain Road, which can be an adventure in itself.
At the top of the mountain, there is a parking lot and a small restaurant. There were many families having picnics, smoking shisha (hookah), and escaping from the stifling heat. Although it isn’t cold on the mountain, it is a few degrees cooler than in Al Ain. When the night temperatures were still hovering around 38C (100F), it was a nice change up the mountain where it was about 31C (88F).
The second time I went up the mountain was to attend an InterNations event for expats in October. The event was held at the Mercure Hotel, which isn’t quite at the top of the mountain. The small restaurant at the top of the mountain, the Mercure Hotel, and a palace owned by the royal family are the only things on the mountain. Although I have had a student that told me she lives on the mountain, I haven’t been able to verify that there is additional housing at the top of the mountain. That isn’t to say I don’t believe her. She would bring me roses from her garden. Roses in Al Ain? As far as I know, maybe she lives in the palace.
The third time I went up the mountain was in March. It was a hazy day because of a recent sand storm, but this time I went with a charged mobile for taking photos. I went up with my Syrian friend that I had met way back on National Day. This is a picture of the hotel during the day looking down at it from the top of the mountain.
In addition to the haze, it was a pretty windy day, so there were not very many people up on the mountain. I got a chance to sneak around the fence and have my picture taken on the rocks. Lot of people apparently do the same thing, as there are names written on many of the rocks. In fact, there was a recent short article in the GulfNews paper discussing the issue with the graffiti (click link to read about it). Don’t worry – I didn’t deface any rocks while I was up there.
Lastly, these are pictures of the small restaurant – aptly named Top of Hafeet Mountain. One of these days I am sure I will make it up the mountain again. Hopefully I will have a charged camera and it won’t be so hazy. Then I will be able to get some really rockin’ pictures. In the meantime, at least I can say I have been to the top of the mountain.