Al Madam Ghost Village, Dubai’s Buried Hamlet

One of the village’s buildings, inundated almost entirely with sand

photography by: Omri Westmark

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We, humans, tend to think that we’ve successfully bended the forces of nature to our whim. This, however, couldn’t be further from the truth as evident by a single abandoned hamlet in the middle of the Emirati desert. With its once roomy villas now partly submerged under the windblown sand, the ghost village of Al Madam offers visitors myriads of surreal sights to awe at.

A mere one hour away from Dubai’s sleek downtown lies a deserted village, steeped in mystery and even more strikingly, sand, an awful lot of it. Well-ensconced in the outskirts of a town with which it shares its name, Al Madam Ghost Village comprises two rows of single-story houses as well as a mosque, all of which are entirely abandoned and buried to different extents by the ever-encroaching sand-dunes.


Most of the buildings are filled with sand to such a degree that their roof is now climbable without much effort. Likewise, the various rooms within each building have their fair share of sand, evoking a somewhat post-apocalyptic scene. Intriguingly, there are houses whose interior parts are still decorated with ceramic tiles and other ornaments as if time has stood still for ages.


There are different speculations about the origins of this place, yet the most established one is that amid the rapid modernization of the UAE in the 1970’s, the country erected this hamlet in an attempt to relocate here members of a local Bedouin tribe. Nevertheless, the area’s unforgiving sandstorms and the lack of proper infrastructure drove all of them out shortly after their resettlement.

On the other end of the spectrum, though, several theories suggest that paranormal activities are the ones to blame for the abandonment. According to ardent believers, the main culprit behind the absence of residents is the presence of evil spirits known locally as djinn. In fact, some even argue that the hamlet is still haunted by Umm Al Duwais, a female demon with feline eyes whose hands are a machete-shaped.


Whatever the reason may be, one thing is clear, the buried village of Al Madam is a testament for nature’s supremacy over mankind, and a possible glimpse into our distant future. As for now, entrance to the hamlet is unrestricted, but its remote location and the lack of public transportation in the area still make it a challenging place to reach. If you come here by car or taxi, the ghost village is accessible via an unpaved road that diverges from Al Madam’s industrial district.