Lay of the Land
The road from Dubai to Oman’s Musandam Peninsula is a striking one. From the glitzy high-rises of downtown Dubai, the scenery gradually changes as stretches of desert emerge, punctuated by pockets of dusty, industrial towns including the emirate of Sharjah, where many of Dubai’s day laborers reside. As you approach the Oman border, the landscape gradually changes from flat desert to rocky elevations—as though the terrain itself provided a natural demarcation between the UAE and Oman.
An exclave—the geographic term for a spit of land belonging to a country it is not connected to—the Musandam Peninsula is separated from the rest of the country and surrounded by the UAE. This spit of land juts into the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway that separates the Persian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman. Dibba is the border town, a sleepy and unremarkable fishing community that is partly set in the UAE and partly in Oman. From passport control—a drive-by booth where immigration officials check for official entry into the UAE (no separate visa is needed for Oman)—it is about half an hour to Zighy Bay.