Sharjah: Erie silence will welcome you as you drive over the rolling dunes into what was once a small village outside the town of Al Madam.
Lying in ruins now, the village, according to locals in the vicinity, was once inhabited by Al Kutbi tribe, one of the three prominent tribes residing in and around Al Madam, a small town governed by Sharjah emirate.
Abandoned a few decades back, the village now lies half buried in sand, and nobody is precisely sure why. It could be the jinn (supernatural creatures that Arabs and Muslims believe exist in this world but not visible to human eyes; the creatures are also mentioned in the Quran) or the inhospitable desert or a combination of both, so the local legend goes.
Intrigued by the tales of the place, Gulf News decided to explore the ruins recently.
Located east of the town of Al Madam, the ‘Buried Village’ as it is locally known, is just a 10-minute drive from the central square of Al Madam, in the direction of Al Ain.
Surprisingly, Google Map locates the ‘Buried Village’ quite accurately, but you will need a 4WD to cover the final stretch of the route that leads to the village or a good pair of legs if you decide to walk.
Once you enter the village, which constitutes two rows of identical houses and a mosque in the far corner, the silence would startle you, immediately giving a feel that there is something unusual about this place.
As you walk through the village, greeted by the quietness of the atmosphere and emptiness of the houses, you might realise that this is more than just an abandoned village. Rather, with this constant feeling of the place being haunted, the village may not be abandoned after all.
However, if you manage to exorcise the creepy thoughts that usually haunt one’s mind while visiting such places, you would be in for some nice exploration around the houses that are half buried by the dunes.
No sooner had we reached the compound wall of the first house we decided to explore, we found something that mystified the aura of the place further. A pair of perfectly fresh apples and a peach was positioned on a mound of sand next to a compound wall. How would you explain that now?
And adding further to the mystery, some strange numbers could be seen written on the fruits. Won’t that freak you out?
Is this a ghost town? Are we intruding into the territory of the jinns? Are we inviting trouble?
Trouble or not, we were determined to explore more. And for the next couple of hours, we entered one house after another and found rooms covered by walls of sand. Dunes could be found settled for good in cosy-looking living rooms and bedrooms.
From the style of construction, most houses seemed to have been built in the late 1970s or 1980s as part of some housing project.
After a couple of hours of incident-free exploring, we grew in confidence and realised that we haven’t yet offended the jinn, so our next stop was the mosque in the corner of the village. And what do we find there? Another apple with more strange numbers on it.
Just when we were thinking of terminating the exploration, we saw a vehicle coming towards us. Riding in the vehicle were Bedouin youth from Al Shuwaib, a neighbouring town. They, too, were not sure about the reasons for the abandonment.
“The sand here is really inhospitable. What we know from our elders is that this place was built for Al Kutbi tribe, but they abandoned it after living here for sometime. 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,” said Ayub Al Kaabi, a resident of Al Shuwaib.
Is Al Kaabi playing down the supernatural factor or he is just right? Even if you believed there are no jinn, how would you explain the fruits with strange numbers?
We probed further
On the way out, we stopped at an automobile workshop located just outside the village, where a mechanic — who has been a resident of Al Madam for six years — helped demystify the place a little.
“I have heard things about this village but I have never come across anything strange. People say there are jinns there but I have also seen people go there at night without any trouble. I have been there at night myself when a friend of mine challenged me. You can see I came back unscathed,” said Malik Ruhullah.
Whatever the case, Al Madam is a beautiful little oasis that is worth exploring, and if you like some spooky stuff, the Buried Village deserves a visit.
Situated on E44, the old Dubai-Hatta road, the town is around 60km from Dubai and 50km from Sharjah.