UAE Cycling – Masafi Loop

  • Posted by: Marcus Cent
  • Category: Rides
Masafi Loop

Another must-do UAE ride is to start from Masafi in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah and to include the diversion into the Oman Enclave. This is a very small section that belongs to Oman, but is surrounded by UAE on all sides. The ride can be tacked in various ways. On our route, we left Masafi and began a 5km climb on the E89.

The initial climb takes riders up to the mouth of the first of 5 tunnels. Once you’ve reached the first tunnel, there is a fabulous section of around 20km that takes you through all 5 tunnels on a descent towards Khor Fakkan on the Northern Coast. Hit play on our short video to get a taste of the terrain and what to expect. We did this ride in January, when the weather is perfect. Perhaps a little chilly at a start time of around 7.30am, but the sun soon rises with you as you commence the first climb.

Masafi is in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah around 1.5 hours drive from Dubai Marina. The easiest route will take you along the E611 with an exit to the E88. Masafi is approximately 64km from the junction after entering the E88.

This is a challenging 120 km ride with plenty to reward riders who make the effort to venture towards the Northern Emirates. Glorious roads, usually fairly free of traffic on a Friday morning, testing climbs, flowing descents, and a wide variety of terrain. This ride is sure to keep riders of all abilities engaged and looking for more.

The ride offers around 1,600m of climbing over 120km distance. The ride includes a sequence of 5 tunnels, so this usually means your GPS will fail to record around 4-5km of the total distance. There are a few ways to tackle the out and back from Masafi. On this ride we opted to head towards Fujairah and head back to Masafi on the slightly easier E89. You could also opt to head back the way you came. Be warned though. The climb back up through the tunnels is hard going with 90+ km in the legs.

The Route
Northern Emirates

The first 30km
The ride starts with a steady 5.16km of climbing to the mouth of the first of 5 tunnels. It takes you to around 480m of elevation. Plenty of height to make the downhill section to follow very pleasing.

The 1st Tunnel

Descent to Khor Fakkan
The next 20 to 25km takes you down through all 5 tunnels until you reach a plateau and the sight of the sea on the Northern coast. This a beautiful section of the ride as the views are stunning. Just be aware of traffic coming through the tunnels from behind. At least one of the tunnels is around 3 km long. A few pictures from this section of the ride in the slideshow below.

Take a right at Khor Fakkan
Before you hit the coast, you will reach a roundabout on a flat section with the sea a few km in the distance. Take a right at this roundabout to head towards Fujairah parallel to the coast. This is a flat section but you won’t be on this section for too long. You can see the right turn just a few km after the large roudabout on the satellite map below.

View from above
Satellite view of the coastal section after Khor Fakkan. The right turn takes you towards the Oman enclave of Nahwa.

Flat section near Khor Fakkan

Nahwa – Oman enclave
Nahwa is a territory that forms part of the Emirate of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. It is a counter-enclave (or second-order enclave) within the Omani territory of Madha, which is itself an exclave of Oman and an enclave within the United Arab Emirates. It’s an interesting detour for any road cyclist as the terrain and scenery change notably with a few twists and turns before a steady climb that takes you to the end of a road that stops abruptly about 15km into this part of the ride.

Smooth roads and stunning scenery greet you in Nahwa.

Fujairah to Masafi
After exiting the Oman enclave back on to the E99 there is a section of main road that needs to be ridden with caution. The road passes a section of oil refineries so the scent of petrol overpowers any sea breeze that might be coming across from your left. Fortunately this section is relatively short. Take a right turn after about 12km on to the F21 which soon joins the E184. This is the road that will take you all the way to your start point with a gradual elevation over your final 400m.