I set out from Dubai with Anshu from India and Sarah from Spain in Anshu's car. Due to the extreme temperatures in Dubai and the desert of over 100F/40C, we left later in the afternoon. I was quite excited to actually see something in the UAE that wasn't Dubai and wasn't a massive city (Abu Dhabi), so a trip through the desert and the Hajjar mountains with fresh springs sounded great.
Only 45 minutes outside of Dubai and after passing the largest dune in the UAE, we came to the first border check with Oman. Fortunately, I remembered we needed to drive through a bit of Oman so I brought my passport. Unfortunately, Sarah did not. We were also with another vehicle and two of the guys in that car were working in Dubai. So that led to an hour of discussions with the border guys, trying to explain we were just passing through and that they should just let us through. Eventually they relented.
The great part about the delay was that it began to downpour during their discussions. It doesn't rain very often in Dubai, let alone in the UAE desert, so it was a pretty rare occasion and definitely a very cool experience.
45 minutes later we had reached Hatta, a city on a plateau surrounded by date palms and the mountains. We climbed up to the top of a park for a view of the valley. Check out the amount of rules you must obey! Honestly some of these gulf countries are crazy about rules.
We proceeded to go up to a nearby dam in the mountains, just to check it out. Since it is the summer, it was completely dry on one side (not much to dam up!).
Finally, the coolest part, was we switched to the other car, a 4x4. A 4x4 is absolutely necessary to reach the springs as it is on very rough roads that go up and down through the mountains. The driver had been out here before so he knew the roads. And, he quite enjoyed utilizing his 4x4 capabilities, so essentially, he went crazy, and it was like a roller coaster. Honestly it was actually a bit scary, though more so thrilling. After 20 or 30 minutes off-road, we reached the biggest spring, but by this time it had become completely dark. We could hear some others swimming in the pool below, so for safety we moved on and didn't disturb them. The second place we found we got out and began to eat our dinner, then heard a group of animals in the distance... being so perfectly dark, it was difficult to decide what they were, so we moved on. Finally, we just gave up on finding a spring, and ate some food on the side of the road.
You might not even think beforehand that there are any big mountains near a place like Dubai, as it is in the middle of a desert. But discovering these mountains was the most worthwhile part about the trip to Dubai.