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Muscat to Dubai for expatriates
Planning on a road trip from Muscat to Dubai? Here are some tips and directions
First make sure you have all the documents required to cross the border
There are three primary borders for entering the UAE from Oman as an expatriate, these are Al Ain/Buraimi, Khatmat Malaha and Hatta. The two latter borders are roughly a 3-4 hour drive from Muscat along the main Sultan Qaboos Highway through Sohar. With Hatta being the most popular and Khatmat Malaha being slightly longer in terms of distance but taking roughly the same amount of time to reach Dubai.
It’s well worth topping up with gasoline on the Omani side of the border as there is a significant difference in fuel prices between the two countries, with Oman being cheaper.
For expatriates from the 33 visa free countries there is no charge to enter UAE and it’s all quite simple, for people from other countries it can be more complex and a fee is involved this ranges from 105 dhs through the Al Ain and Khatmat Malaha border to 185 dhs through the Hatta border. Only people of certain professions or family of persons in respected professions are allowed to be granted this visa. Also depending on the border this may or may not involve getting an iris scan at the border.
After you cross Sohar (or Globe) roundabout (R/A), go further ahead about 65 kms. After the town Shinas you will find the Al-Aqr R/A and you will see signs to Hatta/Dubai. Take a left at this R/A and a little ahead you will see the Oman Border.
Khatmat Malaha border:
When you enter Sohar, look out for Safeer Mall on your right to take a short break. There are plenty of eateries inside this mall and it would be a good idea to buy some water bottle crates / juice cans and snacks - remember, everything is expensive once you enter the UAE.
Instead of taking a left turn at the Al Aqr roundabout, proceed straight for about 20 kilometers more. There are enough signboards to Khatmat Malaha border, so you won't get lost. Take care to fill up the petrol in your car as soon as you cross Sohar, because fuel is expensive once you enter UAE. When you reach the Khatmat Malaha border, you have to just give your passport and Omani resident card to the counter. Once it is stamped, you are out of Oman. Within a few metres you will find the UAE check post. Park your car to the extreme left. There are plenty of counters at the border, but none of them are manned so don't waste your time. There are two portacabins on the left. First go into the one facing the road where an officer will check whether to give you a visa or not (this depends totally on his mood!) If he is ready to give you a visa, he will give you a form to be filled in. But for this, you must go behind the portacabin and pay the UAE insurance for your car, if you do not have it already. The sequence is important - dont pay the insurance first and then get the visa form because you are not sure whether the visa will be issued or not, so it will be a waste of money if you are refused.
Once you pay the car insurance (AED100 or OMR10 - minimum coverage of 10 days), you will have to fill up the visa form given earlier and submit it along with the insurance form to the visa counter. Your iris will be scanned and you will have to pay AED 105 per person as visa charges.
After having your visa stamped, lookout for signboards for Hatta - this is the shortest route. A longer and rather confusing route is via Fujairah. If you do not have GPS, it could be quite difficult. Do not take the longer route via Fujairah - the road is good here but there are no petrol stations all the way till you reach Fujairah.
On the way back, I took the Hatta route which is straight forward and the shortest route. Surprisingly, you will come across a series of checkposts. You first cross the UAE border and for a small stretch, it is Omani territory. Then you get into the UAE again. It is only in the second stretch of UAE that you will have to get the exit stamp of UAE.
Refuel before entering the UAE, also when returning to Oman it’s about 80kms from Dubai Mall to the first Oman gasoline station, and there are plenty of them.
If you are required to pay for a visa, avoid the Hatta border for entry, and drive straight up the Sultan Qaboos highway to the Khatmat Malaha border, then turn left immediately after the border to arrive in Dubai, it takes around 10 minutes longer but saves you 80 dhs.
Exit fees from the UAE are chargeable the Al Ain and Khatmat Malaha border, the fee is 35 dhs, so use the Hatta border when leaving.
Stop at a gasoline station in Dubai to collect a Salik sticker which goes on your windscreen and allows you to pass through the various tolls in Dubai.