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Fort Al Bithnah: the guardian of the wadi

Updated on 07.06.2018

Fort Al Bathnah (or Al Bithnah fort) is strategically located on one of the passes through the mountain linking the desert stretches to the fertile coastal plains of the emirate of Fujairah. Find in this article all the information to prepare your visit: advice, tips, schedules, prices, access map and location, detailed site map, hotels nearby.

In the middle of the palm grove, Fort Al Bathnah once protected the wadi and held the keys of access to the emirate of Fujairah (United Arab Emirates) ©Odyfolio

History of Fort Al Bathnah

Like all the forts in the region, its history is imprecise and eventful. The estimated date of its construction is 1735. Its function was eminently strategic. If you look at a topographic map of the area, you will see that Fujairah is protected by the high mountains Al Hajar, and that its access from the west is possible only through the valley carved by the waters of Wadi Ham. Today there is another highway but it was recently built dynamiting the mountain. In ancient times, therefore, to go to Fujairah from the desert, the only road was to follow the Wadi Ham. Building a fortress next door, some 13 kilometers from the coast, allowed access to the sea to be controlled.

Topographic map of the Fujairah region with location of Al Bithnah fort, on the Wadi Ham bed ©OpenStreetMap contributors

This was what Fort Al Bithnah did for nearly two centuries, repelling the incursions of the desert tribes and other enemies. It should be kept in mind that at the time, the fast mountain side road did not exist, and that the caravans were walking in the wadi bed.

In the twentieth century, the fort fell into ruins (and it seems destroyed in the 70s) and several restoration programs were conducted, the last being completed in September 2012. Note that the small wall that surrounds the fort is a contemporary realization.

Fountain beside Fort Al Bathnah (Fujairah, United Arab Emirates) ©Odyfolio

Detail of Fort Al Bathnah fortification in the Emirate of Fujairah ©Odyfolio

Fort Al Bithnah visit

Tourists coming to the fort are extremely rare. If the doors are closed (this can happen especially on Friday morning when the guard goes to prayer), try to push them and turn around the fort until someone comes to open you. Access to the upper floors is via a tiny, long corridor. We imagine that if attackers took this path, their progress would be more than perilous. The fort is very well maintained and its high walls have two towers on the west side, ie towards the wadi. The materials used are mainly stones adjusted by a mixture of mortar and plaster, and also wood from date palms. On the upper floor you can see large terraces, and several nice observation points on the palm grove and mountains. Outside the fortifications, a small fountain where the water gushing from the wadi flows.

Close-up view of Fort Al Bathnah in the emirate of Fujairah ©Odyfolio

Fortifications of Fort Al Bathnah in the Emirate of Fujairah ©Odyfolio

Useful information

The entrance to the fort is free, however if the guardian accompanies you, or if he has opened the doors just for you, he should be thanked by a contribution proportional to the number of visitors. On the other hand, if it is an emirian who made you discover the fort, you would vex by giving him a tip.

For hotel tips in the area, check out our article on Fujairah City which has a detailed section on accommodation. For hotels with beach, check out our hotels guide beach of the emirate of Fujairah.

Bird resting on the fortifications of Fort Al Bathnah (Fujairah, UAE) ©Odyfolio

Access map

The fort is visible from afar but you have to find your way to get to its doors. Exit the main road and enter the locality of Al Bathnah. Cross the dusty streets of the village trying to head for the fort, then when there is no more road, park your vehicle and walk through the palm grove.

Location of Al Bathnah Fort (Al Bithnah Fort) in the United Arab Emirates ©OpenStreetMap contributors

Location of Al Bathnah Fort (Al Bithnah Fort) in the United Arab Emirates ©OpenStreetMap contributors

Detailed map with location of Fort Al Bathnah in the emirate of Fujairah ©OpenStreetMap contributors