When the ruler of the UAE and one of the richest people in the world decides his palace needs a new driveway, you'd expect something grand, especially when that palace sits atop a mountain, 1200 odd meters above sea level. The road to the top of Jebel Hafeet Mountain is nothing less than spectacular, an extravagance that would cause even the Sultan of Brunei to raise an eyebrow.
About 20 years ago, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan commissioned the three lane highway, 12km of top quality asphalt snaking up the mountain, fully illuminated at night by hundreds of street lamps. Officially, it's a tourist attraction, but there seems to be a suspicious lack of attraction. As a token gesture to tourism there's a lone (and, apparently, very average) hotel about three quarters of the way up, and a cafe in the huge car park lookout at the top.
Admittedly, the surrounding area does have its fair share of tourist attractions; the Green Mubazarrah Park at the base of the mountain, a lake created by hot springs and even a zoo which features camel racing. But nothing that would require a road up the mountain, let alone one that would have cost easily in excess of $100million to build.
The Sheikhs driveway seems to have been designed with drivers in mind, and their appreciation is evident in the skid marks that adorn many of its corners. The adrenaline rush brought on by reaching the top as quickly as possible combined with the realisation that once you're up there, there is literally nowhere else to go but down the exact same road, has ensured that the lookout car park is festooned with celebratory doughnuts. As well it should be.
Check out the following pages for a 3D map of the road, as well as footage of a Nissan GTR storming up the mountain...