Buried Village of Al Madam – Al Madam, United Arab Emirates - Atlas Obscura

Buried Village of Al Madam

Al Madam, United Arab Emirates

An abandoned desert hamlet swallowed up by sand. 


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,” 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. 


Know Before You Go

The buried village can be found from Google Maps by the name "The old area of Madame." It's about 37 miles from Dubai. There is no public transportation to take you there, so a taxi is a good option. It's about 300 dirhams there and back from Dubai. It's good to tell the driver that the road near the village is sandy desert road. You can use the small sand road that is marked on Google Maps, and turns from Umm al quwain AI Shuwaid RD. There are also some abandoned shops and building sites near the village. The dunes around the village are also very beautiful.

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April 3, 2019

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