The Jebel Jais mountain peak is part of the spectacular cloud-piercing Hajar mountain range. The range extends from Ras Al Khaimah on the eastern side of the United Arab Emirates to the Musandam Peninsula on the northeastern side of Oman.
In the late Cretaceous period (145.5 million years to 66 million years ago), there was some movement from volcanic action in part of the Tethys Sea that was once part of Arabia. The submarine volcanoes pushed dark, crustal magma over the Arabian landmass, which with the rocks from below, created a sequence called ophiolite rocks, the primary type of rock in the Hajar mountains.
Ophiolites give geologists a rare glimpse of the Earth’s crust. Interestingly, the Hajar mountains have the most extensive ophiolites worldwide and are one of the few places on Earth where scientists can study these oceanic rocks on land.
The highest peak in the United Arab Emirates attracts thrill-seekers and nature lovers, providing adrenaline-pumping experiences and nature-appreciating activities while protecting its ancient geology and fascinating history. The Jebel Jais mountain peak provides breathtaking vistas and a cooling microclimate with temperatures less than 10 degrees Fahrenheit found at sea level.
The temperatures in the peaks of the mountains are known to have dropped to 23 degrees Fahrenheit (- 5 degrees Celsius). Rare snowfall has brought the locals out for snowball fights and snowmen challenges in their hordes.
Ras Al Khaimah has its own eco-system encompassing wild sandy deserts, coastal plains, lush mangroves, wadis, and of course, the mountains. There is no other Emirate quite like it. The temperatures in the summer can reach just over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius), and the mountains seemingly disappear behind a vapour haze and then magically reappear again in the cooler winter months. Generally, Ras Al Khaimah is a few degrees cooler than its sister Emirates because of its 64-kilometre coastline and the Hajar mountain range.
The mountains are home to the nimble mountain goat, shy mountain foxes, and wild cats. The Arabian leopard might also reside in the Hajar mountain range, though they are on the Critically Endangered IUCN Red List.
Visitors can hike through the complex network of trails which make up varying routes, so no matter how many times a trail is walked, it appears different. Adventurati has cleverly developed each trail so that walkers of different levels can efficiently complete a route. Hikers can access various points within the mountains and walk down pathways passing through old settlements and hidden oases.
The Highlander Trail is one of the most challenging trails in the United Arab Emirates, boasting steep elevation gains from 150 metres to 1,800 metres above sea level. World-class hikers increasingly describe it as one of the most beautiful hikes globally with its unique landscapes, views across Oman and the United Arab Emirates, over flourishing date farms and down to the mangroves and the shores of the Arabian Gulf. Upon completion of the trails, visitors can weave their own routes from the labyrinth of trails and choose elevation gain, elevation loss, length, difficulty, steepness and type of terrain.
Hiking the Jebel Jais mountains is like no other experience in the region, if not the world. The sensitivity of creating these extraordinary trails is a testament to the Emirati’s respect for the nature surrounding them and the guardedness of their tribal fathers.
At the foot of the mountains are the wadis, an Arabic word for valleys. Any nature tends to lie dormant during the warm summer months and wait patiently for the rains. When the rains do appear, the wadis fill with water and become busy watering holes for goats, camels, and the occasional lonesome donkey. If you are lucky enough to witness the rains, you’ll find plant life such as plantago ovato, a hairy plant with tiny off-white flowers, the blue-scarlet pimpernel, desert cotton, sorrel and the pretty morning blooming convolvulus virgatus.
From the base of the mountain, the journey to the top takes about an hour and 30 kilometres of meandering hairpin roads. There are regular pull-ins so that you can stop and admire the ever-changing views. Whilst at the top, why not pop into the Emirate’s highest restaurant, 1484 by Puro or fly up to 150 kmph on the world’s longest zipline, Jais Flight.