Al Hajar Mountains

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Hajar Mountains
Oman Mountains[1][2]
Rocky Mountains[3][4]
Stone Mountains
Nakhal Fort 1.jpg
Highest point
PeakJebel Shams (Oman)
Elevation3,009 m (9,872 ft)
CoordinatesCoordinates: 23°18′N 57°06′E / 23.3°N 57.1°E / 23.3; 57.1
Native nameجِبَال ٱلْحَجَر (in Arabic)
Hajar Mountains is located in Oman
Hajar Mountains
Hajar Mountains
Hajar Mountains is located in Asia
Hajar Mountains
Hajar Mountains
Countries Oman and  United Arab Emirates

Al-Hajar Mountains (Arabic: جِبَال ٱلْحَجَر‎, romanizedJibāl al-Ḥajar, The Rocky Mountains[3][4] or The Stone Mountains) in northeastern Oman and also the eastern United Arab Emirates are the highest mountain range in the eastern Arabian peninsula. Also known as "Oman Mountains",[1][2] they separate the low coastal plain of Oman from the high desert plateau, and lie 50–100 km (31–62 mi) inland from the Gulf of Oman.

"Al" (Arabic: اَلْ‎) means "The", and "Ḥajar" (Arabic: حَجَر‎) means "Stone" or "Rock". So "Al-Hajar" (Arabic: اَلْحَجَر‎) would be defined as "The Stone" or "The Rock".

Geology, geography and climate[edit]

Geologically, Al-Hajar Mountains are the continuation of the Zagros Mountains,[2] and were mainly formed in the Miocene and Pliocene as the Arabian Plate collided with and pushed against the Iranian Plate. These mountains are chiefly made of Cretaceous limestones and ophiolites.[5] The mountains begin in the Musandam Peninsula in the north, and extend about 440 km (270 mi) to Ras Al-Hadd in the east,[6] measuring up to 50 km (31 mi) wide. This range is one of the few places on Earth where less dense oceanic crust is located below more dense oceanic crust and upper parts of the Earth's mantle, and thus has ophiolite exposed, like the Andes, Himalayas, Swiss Alps and other ranges.[7]

The low coastal land north and east of the Jebel Hajar is called "Al Batinah Region."[1] The climate is cool and wet from December to March,[8][9] and warmer but occasionally rainy from April to September.[citation needed]

Central Hajar[edit]

The central section of the Hajar is the highest and wildest terrain in the country. Jabal Shams is the highest of the range,[10] followed by Jebel Akhdar. The latter[5] and the smaller Jebel Nakhl range are bounded on the east by the low Sama'il Valley (which leads northeast to Muscat).[11]

Eastern Hajar[edit]

East of Samail are the Eastern Hajar (Arabic: ٱلْحَجَر ٱلشَّرْقِي‎, romanizedAl-Ḥajar Ash-Sharqī), which run east (much closer to the coast) to the fishing town of Sur,[12] almost at the easternmost point of Oman.

Western Hajar[edit]

The mountains to the west of Sama'il Valley, particularly those in Musandam Peninsula and the UAE,[13] are known as the Western Hajar (Arabic: ٱلْحَجَر ٱلْغَرْبِي‎, romanizedAl-Ḥajar Al-Gharbī),[6] also known as the "Oman proper". Since Jabal Akhdar and mountains in its vicinity are west of the valley, they may be regarded as Western Hajar.[1][13]


Aerial picture of Jebel Hafeet from the east

In the region of Tawam,[14] which includes the adjacent settlements of Al-Buraimi and Al Ain on the border of Oman and the UAE Emirate of Abu Dhabi, lies Jebel Hafeet (1,100–1,400 m (3,600–4,600 ft)),[15][16][17][18] which can be considered an outlier of the Hajar. Due to its proximity to the main Hajar range,[16] it may be treated as being part of the range, sensu lato.[19] This mountain has ridges which stretch northwards to the city of Al Ain.[20][21][22][23]

Ru'us al-Jibal[edit]

The northernmost mountains of the Hajar range are found on the Musandam Peninsula. For this reason, the phrase Ru'us al-Jibal ("Heads of the Mountains") is applied to them, or the peninsula itself. Despite being physically part of the western Hajar, they differ in geology and hydrology to the rest of the range.[1][13] The highest point in the UAE is located at Jebel Jais near Ras Al Khaimah, which measures 1,934 m (6,345 ft) from sea level,[15] but since the summit is on the Omani side, Jabal Yibir, measuring over 1,500 m (0.93 mi), has the highest peak in the UAE.[24][25]


The mountains bordering the Shamailiyyah (Arabic: شَمَيْلِيَّة‎) coast on the Gulf of Oman, forming parts of the northern UAE Emirates of Sharjah, Ras Al-Khaimah and Fujairah,[13] may also be called the Shumayliyyah (Arabic: شُمَيْلِيَّة‎).[26][27] In this region is Jebel Al-Ḥeben (Arabic: جَبَل ٱلْحبن‎; 25°7′33″N 56°9′33″E / 25.12583°N 56.15917°E / 25.12583; 56.15917).[8][9]

Flora and fauna[edit]

Date palms and other trees amongst the Eastern Hajar, near the east coast of Oman
Stuffed Arabian tahr in a Hajar setting at the Natural History Museum of the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture in Al-Khuwair, Muscat

The mountains are rich in plant life compared to most of Arabia, including a number of endemic species. The vegetation changes with altitude, the mountains are covered with shrubland at lower elevations, growing richer and then becoming woodland, including wild olive and fig trees between 3,630 and 8,250 ft (1,110 and 2,510 metres), and then higher still there are junipers. Fruit trees such as pomegranate and apricot are grown in the cooler valleys and in places there are rocky outcrops with little vegetation. The flora shows similarities with mountain areas of nearby Iran, as well as with areas along the Red Sea in the Horn of Africa. For example, the tree Ceratonia oreothauma is found here and also in Somalia.[citation needed]

A number of birds are found in the mountains including Egyptian and lappet-faced vultures (Torgos tracheliotus). Mammals include mountain gazelles (Gazella gazella) and the Arabian tahr (Arabitragus jayakari).[28][29] Other endemic species include a number of geckos and lizards: Asaccus montanus, Asaccus platyrhynchus and a subspecies of Wadi Kharrar rock gecko (Pristurus gasperetti gallagheri) are found only in Oman while Musandam leaf-toed gecko (Asaccus caudivolvulus), Gallagher's leaf-toed gecko (Asaccus gallagheri), Oman rock gecko (Pristurus celirrimus), Jayakar lizard (Lacerta jayakari) and Oman's lizard (Lacerta cyanura) are found only in the Hajar mountains. The endangered Arabian leopard (Panthera pardus nimr) had been recorded here,[26] particularly in the area of Khasab in northern part of the Musandam.[30][31]

Like the Ru'us al-Jibal,[32] the area of Jebel Hafeet is noted for hosting rare flora and fauna.[33][34] For example, in February 2019, an Arabian caracal was sighted here,[35][36][37] and in March, a Blanford's fox,[38][39] which has also been reported in the mountains of Ras Al-Khaimah.[40]

Threats and preservation[edit]

The Hajar are extensively grazed by domestic goats, camels and donkeys and the landscape has been cleared in parts for urban areas and for mining, which has damaged both vegetation and water supplies and uprooted traditional rural land management behaviours. Poaching of wildlife is another issue. The Oman government has created the Wadi Sareen Reserve and an area of Jebel Qahwan-Jebal Sebtah in the Eastern Hajar, for the protection of Arabian tahr and mountain gazelle. For visitors, there is a road into the mountains from the town of Birkat al-Mawz (on the road to Nizwa from Muscat) and a walking route through Wadi al-Muaydin to the Saiq Plateau.[citation needed]

Trekking and hiking[edit]

There are 11 marked trails/routes of varying intensity (between Grade 1 to 3) and duration (between 1.5 hours to 18 hours) published by Ministry of Tourism, Oman along the Hajar Mountain range.[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Allen, Calvin H., Jr. (2016-02-05). "1: Land and People". Oman: the Modernization of the Sultanate. Abingdon, New York: Routledge. pp. 1–8. ISBN 1-3172-9164-6.
  2. ^ a b c Geukens, F. (1966). Bowers, S. D. (ed.). United States Geological Survey Professional Paper. United States Geological Survey Professional Paper. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
  3. ^ a b Al-Yahyai, Sultan; Charabi, Yassine; Al-Sarmi, Said; Al-Maskari, Juma (2017-05-09). "3: Scenarios Based Climate Projection for Oman's Water Resources". In Abdalla, Omar; Kacimov, Anvar; Chen, Mingjie; Al-Maktoumi, Ali; Al-Hosni, Talal; Clark, Ian (eds.). Water Resources in Arid Areas: The Way Forward. Springer. p. 49. ISBN 3-3195-1856-9.
  4. ^ a b Megdiche-Kharrat, Fairouz; Ragala, Rachid; Moussa, Mohamed (2016-11-25). "12: The Aqueducts of the Sultanate of Oman: Sustainable Water-Supplying Irrigating Oases Cities". In Angelakis, Andreas N.; Chiotis, Eustathios; Eslamian, Saeid; Weingartner, Herbert (eds.). Underground Aqueducts Handbook. CRC Press. p. 206. ISBN 1-4987-4831-7.
  5. ^ a b "Mountains in Oman". Ministry of Tourism, Sultanate of Oman.
  6. ^ a b Cavendish, Marshall (2007). "Geography and climate". World and Its Peoples. 1. Cavendish Square Publishing. pp. 8–19. ISBN 978-0-7614-7571-2.
  7. ^ Bardsley, Daniel (2015-05-16). "Geophysicists head to Hajar Mountains in search of black gold". The National. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  8. ^ a b Al Serkal, Mariam M. (2019-03-10). "UAE to see cold days ahead, temperatures drop to 2.6°C". Gulf News. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  9. ^ a b Al Serkal, Mariam M. (2019-02-28). "UAE to get 5 days of rain and "significant drop in temperature"". Gulf News. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  10. ^ Cullen, Katherine E.; Kusky, Timothy M. (2010). "Arabian geology". Encyclopedia of Earth and Space Science. New York City: Infobase Publishing. pp. 26–38. ISBN 1-4381-2859-2.
  11. ^ Darke, Diane (2010). Oman: The Brad Travel Guide. Bradt Travel Guides. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  12. ^ "The Eastern Hajar Mountains". Arabic Felix. Retrieved 2019-01-17.
  13. ^ a b c d Lancaster, Fidelity; Lancaster, William (2011). Honour is in Contentment: Life Before Oil in Ras Al-Khaimah (UAE) and Some Neighbouring Regions. Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 3–598. ISBN 3-1102-2339-2.
  14. ^ Morton, Michael Quentin (15 April 2016). Keepers of the Golden Shore: A History of the United Arab Emirates (1st ed.). London: Reaktion Books. ISBN 978-1-7802-3580-6. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  15. ^ a b "Jebel Jais". Jebel Jais Ras Al Khaimah. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  16. ^ a b Gardner, Andrew Somerville (January 2004). "The reptiles of Jebel Hafeet". ADCO and Emirates Natural History Group: 149–168. Retrieved 2019-01-14. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  17. ^ Lieth, Helmut; Al Masoom, A. A., eds. (2012-12-06). "Reclamation potentials of saline degraded lands in Abu Dhabi eastern region using high salinity-tolerant woody plants and some salt marsh species". Towards the rational use of high salinity tolerant plants: Vol 2: Agriculture and forestry under marginal soil water conditions. 2: Agriculture and forestry under marginal soil water conditions. Springer Science+Business Media. pp. 271–274. ISBN 9-4011-1860-4.
  18. ^ Neild, Barry (2018-10-03). "Day trip from Abu Dhabi: The cool oasis of Al Ain". CNN. Retrieved 2019-03-10.
  19. ^ The Report Abu Dhabi 2010. Oxford Business Group. 2010. p. 171. ISBN 978-1-9070-6521-7.
  20. ^ Salama, Samir (2011-12-30). "Al Ain bears evidence of a culture's ability to adapt". Gulf News. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  21. ^ Yildirim, Ege; El-Masri, Sami (2010), Master Planning for Heritage Conservation in Al Ain Oasis, UAE (pdf), UAE: ADACH and ISOCARP, pp. 1–11, retrieved 2019-08-15
  22. ^ The Cultural Sites of Al Ain (Hafit, Hili, Bidaa Bint Saud and Oases Areas), UNESCO, retrieved 2019-08-15
  23. ^ "The Cultural Sites of Al Ain (Hafit, Hili, Bidaa Bint Saud and Oases Areas) – Serial Property – Executive Summary", UAE Government, UNESCO, March 2010, retrieved 2019-08-15
  24. ^ "Geography of United Arab Emirates, Landforms - World Atlas". Retrieved 2017-03-27. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help); External link in |website= (help)
  25. ^ "Jabal Yibir". Retrieved 2019-02-12. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  26. ^ a b Spalton, J. A.; Al-Hikmani, H. M. (2006). "The Leopard in the Arabian Peninsula – Distribution and Subspecies Status" (PDF). Cat News. Special Issue 1: 4–8.
  27. ^ Edmonds, J.-A.; Budd, K. J.; Al Midfa, A. & Gross, C. (2006). "Status of the Arabian Leopard in United Arab Emirates" (PDF). Cat News (Special Issue 1): 33–39.
  28. ^ Hanif, N. (2015-02-04). "Arabian Oryx thriving at Abu Dhabi sanctuary". The National. Retrieved 2018-04-03.
  29. ^ "Endangered Arabian tahr born on Sir Bani Yas Island". Gulf News. 2018-01-13. Retrieved 2018-04-02.
  30. ^ Nader, I. A. (1989). "Rare and endangered mammals of Saudi Arabia". In Abu-Zinada, A. H.; Goriup, P. D.; Nader, L. A (eds.). Wildlife conservation and development in Saudi Arabia (PDF). National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development Publishing. Riyadh. pp. 226–228.
  31. ^ Harrison, D. L., and Bates, P. J. J. (1991). The mammals of Arabia (PDF). 354. Sevenoaks, UK: Harrison Zoological Museum. pp. 167–170.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  32. ^ Simó-Riudalbas, M.; Metallinou, M.; De Pous, P.; Els, J.; Jayasinghe, S.; Péntek-Zakar, E.; Wilms, Thomas; Al-Saadi, Saleh; Carranza, Salvador (2017-08-02), Cryptic diversity in Ptyodactylus (Reptilia: Gekkonidae) from the northern Hajar Mountains of Oman and the United Arab Emirates uncovered by an integrative taxonomic approach, 12, PLOS ONE, e0180397 Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  33. ^ WAM (2017-09-13). "EAD raises awareness on Abu Dhabi's natural heritage at ADIHEX 2017". The Gulf Today. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  34. ^ Al-Wasmi, N. (2017-02-15). "Jebel Hafeet boost for local biodiversity". The National. Retrieved 2018-04-03.
  35. ^ "Arabian Caracal sighted in Abu Dhabi for first time in 35 years". Emirates 24/7. 2019-02-23. Retrieved 2019-02-23.
  36. ^ "Arabian Caracal spotted in Abu Dhabi for first time in 35 years". WAM. Abu Dhabi: Khaleej Times. 2019-02-23. Retrieved 2019-02-23.
  37. ^ "Arabian caracal spotted for first time in Abu Dhabi in 35 years". The National. 2019-02-23. Retrieved 2019-02-23.
  38. ^ Duncan, Gillian (2019-03-27). "Rare fox spotted in Al Ain for first time in almost 20 years". The National. Retrieved 2019-03-31.
  39. ^ "Rare creature caught on camera in UAE after 17 years". Khaleej Times. 2019-03-30. Retrieved 2019-03-31.
  40. ^ Llewellyn-Smith, R.E. (2000), A short note on Blanford's fox Vulpes cana in the mountains of Ras Al Khaimah, Tribulus 10.1:23–24
  41. ^ "Trekking". website. Ministry of Tourism, Sultanate of Oman.


External links[edit]