On a strip of desert behind the town of Al Madam lies a tiny ghost village lost in sand. It consists of two rows of colorful houses and a mosque at one end, all long-deserted and engulfed by the dunes. There is something poetic in the way nature has taken over these old abandoned buildings, and something eerie as well.
The small houses have rusty iron gates, and inside are colorful blue and green rooms decorated with ceramic tiles and wallpapers. Each room is filled with piles of sand, sometimes stretching halfway up the walls, pocked with scorpion footprints all over.
Local legend holds that it was the jinns—supernatural creatures that Arabs and Muslims believe exist in a plane invisible to humans—who drove the people away from their village. The settlement was likely first built in the 1970s or ’80s and inhabited by the local Al Kutbi tribe. It was abandoned not long afterward.
Though this strange and silent place does indeed feel haunted, in reality, it was almost certainly the encroaching desert that drove residents from their homes. Today the little lost hamlet is referred to by locals either as the “old village,” “ghost village,” or “buried village” of Al Madam. Some buildings are now entirely inside the dunes and have windows on the roof, so explorers should take care where they step.