The Buried Village of Al Madam

Nov 7, 2018 0 comments

About two kilometers south-west of Al Madam, a small town along the old Dubai-Hatta road, is a spooky little abandoned settlement. It was once inhabited by the people of the Al Kutbi tribe, who are among the three prominent tribes living in the vicinity of Al Madam. For some reason the residents packed up their bags and left more than a decade ago. Local legends hold that it’s the nasty “jinn” that drove the people away.

Jinn is a demon-like supernatural creature that the Arabs and Muslims believe in, but they are not always malevolent—after all, it was a jinn that helped Aladdin, the son of a poor tailor, kill the evil sorcerer and gave him riches allowing him to live the life of a prince in one of the best-known Arabian folktale Aladdin and the Magic Lamp.


A ghost village near Al Madam, UAE. Photo credit: Katiekk/

Locals believe that something supernatural happened at Al Madam. But in reality, it’s the unwelcoming sand of the desert.

The village constitutes two rows of identical houses and a mosque at one end. Reports suggest that the houses were built in the late 1970s or 1980s as part of a housing project. And the houses were well-built too. There is hardly any crumbling walls or flaking paints even after more than a decade of abandonment. However, not one of the them have escaped the encroaching desert. Room after room, house after house is buried in sand halfway up to the ceiling. It’s the sand, and not jinn that drove the residents away.

“The sand here is really inhospitable. People say there is something in the sand here, it invades the houses. Whether it is the nature of the sand or there is something more to it, we don’t know,” Ayub Al Kaabi, a resident of Al Shuwaib told Gulf News.

Al madam is situated about 60 km from the city of Dubai and 50 km from Sharjah. Known as the “old town” of Al Madam, this abandoned village is now a popular spot for tourist and instagrammers.


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