Is the UAE Ghost Village the Ultimate Tourist Attraction?
Dubai, known for its towering skyscrapers and luxurious lifestyle, is also home to a hidden gem that is gaining popularity among tourists – the abandoned desert village of al-Ghuraifa. Located just an hour’s drive from the bustling city, this ghost village offers a unique glimpse into the rapid transformation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from a humble desert to a global hub of commerce and tourism.
The village of al-Ghuraifa was built in the 1970s as part of a public housing project to accommodate the semi-nomadic Bedouin tribes. However, as the discovery of oil in the region gradually changed the landscape, the village was abandoned in the 1990s, with its residents seeking a better life in the rapidly growing cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Today, al-Ghuraifa has become a fascinating tourist attraction, attracting visitors who are looking to escape the glitz and glamour of the coastal cities and delve into the UAE’s humble past. The village consists of two rows of homes and a mosque, showcasing the traditional architecture and local flourishes that were designed to ease the transition to settled life.
While the exact reason for the village’s abandonment remains unclear, local lore suggests that evil spirits drove the residents away. However, it is more likely that the lack of basic amenities such as electricity and water, coupled with the challenges of commuting across the desert to access government services and schools, led to their exodus.
As time passes, the desert sands are slowly reclaiming the village. Drifts of sand have blown into the homes, obscuring walls and nearly reaching the ceilings. However, the mosque remains preserved, thanks to regular maintenance by workers from the nearby town of al-Madam.
Despite its remote and deserted ambiance, the al-Ghuraifa ghost village has started to attract tourists and even serves as a backdrop for music videos and social media posts showcasing Dubai’s opulent lifestyle. Visitors can now explore the village under the watchful eye of tour guides, who provide insights into its history and significance.
To preserve and protect the site from unwanted alterations and damage, the municipality has recently installed fencing, a security gate, and garbage bins. These measures aim to strike a balance between making the village accessible for tourists while maintaining its charm and authenticity.
For many tourists, visiting al-Ghuraifa offers a chance to connect with the UAE’s rural and humble roots, which starkly contrast with the modern metropolises they have come to associate with the country. Danny Booth, an expatriate from the Isle of Man, remarked, “Sometimes these places are better left undisturbed, as they lose their charm when they become crowded.”
As the UAE continues to attract an influx of expatriates and generate interest from tourists worldwide, places like al-Ghuraifa serve as a reminder of the nation’s past and offer a glimpse into its transformation. While the future of al-Ghuraifa as a tourist attraction remains uncertain, one thing is for sure – this ghost village holds a unique allure that is captivating both locals and visitors alike.

By Sarah

Meet Sarah, a 35-year-old luxury traveler who is passionate about seeking unique and exclusive experiences in Dubai. Sarah enjoys indulging in luxurious waterfront living, yachting, and hot air balloon rides to explore the stunning cityscape from above. She appreciates the cultural traditions of Dubai and loves exploring the city's vibrant art scene and urban innovation. Sarah also enjoys wellness retreats and desert safari adventures, seeking a perfect balance between relaxation and excitement. As a VIP traveler, Sarah is always on the lookout for luxury experiences and hidden secrets that Dubai has to offer, making her the perfect candidate for upscale shopping sprees and exclusive VIP tours of Dubai's Grand Mosque. With a focus on family fun and creating unforgettable memories, Sarah values connecting with her loved ones through memorable experiences in the opulent setting that Dubai is known for.