Along the Dubai to Al-Ain Highway
Description of the drive along the main highway from Dubai to Al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates, a journey I've done many times. With directions, local information and distances in kilometres and miles.
Guide with junctions, rest areas, distances and local information
The Dubai to Al-Ain Road, designated E66, begins around 7 km south east of Dubai at Nad Al Sheba interchange, where we will set the distance to 0km.
After 3 kilometres, the first exit, numbered Exit 9, is for the famous Nad Al-Sheba racecourse, which is screened from the highway by trees.
At 7.4km, nearly 4 miles, is Exit 16 for Dubai Academic City. The new building for the Sheikh Zayed University, with its distinctive funnell-like tower, can be seen on the left,
00.0 km Nad Al-Sheba Interchange
3.0 km Exit 9 for Nad Al-Sheba racecourse
7.4 km Exit 16 for Dubai Academic City
12.3 km Exit 18 Dubai Bypass Road E611 International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture
20.0 km Exit 26 for Umm Nahad
23.5 km Exit 29 Jebel Ali and Abu Dhabi E77
24.0 km Exit 30 Hatta and Oman E77
30.3 km Eppco Petrol Station
30.7 km Exit 37 Al Lissaili
36.2 km Parking area
40.3 km Exit 47 Margham and Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve E40
42.6 km Restaurants Roan and Tarif
46.9 km Exit 50 Marquab and Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
47.9 km Eppco Petrol station
53.1 km Parking area
58.3 km Emirates Petrol Station (West only)
59.2 km Faqa'a Petrol stations and police stations
59.6 km Dubai Abu Dhabi border
62.4 km Adnoc Petrol Station
63.7 km Overpass
67.6 km Exit for Shwaib Fujairah and East Coast
69.9 km HJab Restaurant W only
74.2 km Rest Area
78.5 km Police checkpoint Al-Khab
79.2 km Exit for Al Hayer Sweihan Al Hayer Rest House
82.3 km Parking area
83.2 km Overpass
89.9 km Rest Area
91.1 km Al-Kra'a Bida bin Ahmed
96.7 km Overpass and turning point
99.4 km Overpass and turning point Towaila
100.6 km Al-Ain Dairy and shop
107.4 km Al-Foah Al Ain city limit
The Dubai Bypass Road is at Exit 18. This road, numbered E611 runs north to Al Khawaneej and Dhaid. Exit 18 is also the exit for the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture.
At 20km is Exit 26 for Umm Nahad.
Notice the gradual change in the landscape from flat stony ground to pale coloured dunes. Around dusk time there are spectacular sunsets over the desert. Stop at any of the rest areas to watch - and photograph - the sun going down.
At 23.5km is the first turn off for the E77 south to Jebel Ali and Abu Dhabi. The turnoff for the E77 north to Hatta Oman is at 24km.
An Eppco Petrol Station is at 30.7 km, and shortly after that, Exit 37 for Al Lissaili
At 36.2 there's a parking area and at 40.3km, Exit 47 for Margham and the first of two entrances for the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.
At 59.2 kilometres, 37 statute miles, we reach the turn off for Al-Faqa. Be careful here as the right hand lane leads off the highway which becomes two-lane. A landscaped services area straddles the border. There is a Dubai Police station and a petrol station on the right.
At 59.6 km, 37 and a quarter miles, we reach the Dubai-Abu Dhabi border, marked by a change in the tarmac, and a sign saying 'Welcome to the Eastern Region of Abu Dhabi Emirate.' Abu Dhabi Police have a police station inside the services area on the right.
There have been no controls here for many years, and many people don't even notice there's an inter-emirate border. Nevertheless, it's as important as the line between two US states.
As we continue towards Al-Ain, the highway, now two lanes in each direction, rises and falls with the terrain, making gentle turns to the right and left. Inside Abu Dhabi, the junctions and roads are no longer numbered, and there are overpasses, marked by signs to Dubai, with slip roads and access to the desert. Traffic can pass under the highway and go back in the direction of Dubai.
At 62.4 there's a petrol station, this one owned by Adnoc (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company).
At 67.6 km is the turn-off for Shwaib, Fujairah and the East Coast. Fujairah is around a 120km drive across the desert and through the mountains.
At 74.2 km a rest area and 78.5 the Al-Khab police checkpoint. Signs warn drivers of a police checkpoint, but as at the border, traffic normally passes freely.
At 79.2 km is the exit for the town of Hayer off to the left, and the road to the Al Hayer Rest House and Sweihan off to the right across the desert.
In the distance you should now be able to see the curved outline of Jebel Hafeet rising up in the distance. At night, a string of lights seems to ascend into the sky.
At 82.3 km and 89.9 km there are rest areas, with small shops offering refreshments, and there are good views over the desert, here a deep brown colour with rolling dunes.
At 91.1km there's a turn off for Al-Kra'a and Bida bin Ahmed.
Two more overpasses follow at 96.7 and 99.4 and at 100.6km on the right is the Al-Ain Dairy. Turn off here to visit the shop which offers Al-Ain Dairy products and is open 24 hours a day.
At 107.4 km we reach the Al-Foah roundabout, marking the outer limits of the town of Al-Ain and the end of the highway. From here to Al-Ain town centre it's another 15km or 10 miles, and ten more roundabouts.
I've done this trip countless times, day and night, and it never fails to be an interesting and enjoyable drive. And don't forget to observe the speed limit of 120kph or 75mph
Written by Aidan O'Rourke
Aidan ORourke has built up a wide range of experience in both film and digital photography. He first became interested in photography in 1981. Since 1996 he has documented Manchester and Liverpool in photos and words. Aidan ORourke is a multimedia journalist and tutor in photography and languages. He is based in Stockport and covers Manchester, Liverpool and northern England.