Driving to Muscat

Driving from Dubai to Muscat

I had booked a rental car in Dubai and we had planned to start the drive to Muscat at around 10:00 am, since we wanted to make sure we get there before sunset. However when I got to the airport to pick up the car from Avis, things started to go wrong. Even though I had confirmed by e-mail with Avis beforehand to make sure that it is OK to take the car across the border to Oman, when I asked the guy at the counter about additional insurance for Oman, he said 'Driving to Oman not possible!'. He told me that they changed the rules two months ago, and I could not take their cars to Oman anymore. (Probably the last time I'll rent from Avis.) So I started asking around at the other rental car counters, and after a couple of unsuccessful attempts I ended up at Dollar Rental who luckily had a 4WD with Omani insurance available. Completing all the paper work and getting the car took nearly 2 hours and we ended up leaving Dubai some time after 12 o'clock. Unfortunately things did not go smoothly from here on either.

We followed the GPS navigation to Muscat, which said it would be about a 4.5 hours drive. The roads in Dubai are very good, and as soon as we left the city we drove through desert with sand being blown over the road. The only life we saw was the occasional camel standing by the side of the road. We reach to a small border post, where I handed over our passports only to be told that this border crossing is only for UAE and Omani citizens and we have to drive around to get to a different border. At this stage this didn't seem like a big deal, as it would only add about 45 minutes to our trip. But somehow our GPS did not direct us at the right turn-off to the Hatta border crossing. (We seemed to have gotten a fairly old GPS from the rental company, which did not have a lot of the newer roads in it.) And then I made the error of continuing to the next large border crossing we saw on the map, which took us through a mountain range to the shore. This was the Khatmat Milahah border crossing. And they did not let us through there either, this time not because we were foreigners, but because we had a rental car. It took quite a bit of time to negotiate and finally being told that we have to drive back to the Hatta border. So a bit frustrated and anxious we made our way back up the winding highway into the mountains trying to find the Hatta border crossing. This added about 2 hours to the journey and getting to Muscat before dark was no longer an option. When we finally found the Hatta border crossing, the formalities were fairly straightforward. You get a stamp in your passport and pay 70 Dirham at the UAE border. Then there is about a 5 km drive to get to the Omani border, where you have to park the car and get the visa on arrival and approval to drive across. We had to show our passports, car registration and Omani insurance documents and pay 10 Omani Rial (about USD 30 and they accept credit cards), and then we were finally in Oman.

The drive to Muscat from here took about 3 hours and was not very interesting. Even though the road runs along the shore, you never actually see the ocean. The entire route seems to go through a strip mall. It is not difficult to find, since you just follow the road signs to Muscat. This was lucky, because we also found out, that Oman for some reason is one of those countries where step by step navigation on google maps is not activated. So we could see on my phone where we have to go, but it would not provide us with directions. We ended up getting to the hotel in Muscat rather tired and exhausted at around 9:00pm.

Here is the map showing out route the border crossings:

So in hindsight I would not drive from Dubai to Oman again. Given the difficulties with the rental car and the border crossing, and adding the not very interesting 3 hour drive from the Hatta border to Muscat, it would have been a lot easier to fly to Muscat and rent a car there.

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