Wadi Siji, located between Al Dhaid in the west and Masafi in the east, represents a place of natural beauty. Consisting of two dams, one of which is known as Ward Siji Old Dam, it has a water storage capacity of 1.2 million cubic meters. The valley and its location within the Hajar mountains, allow for opportunities that include picnics, tents, and hiking. Built for 70 years, Wadi Siji has the oldest dam in the UAE. The dam is 10m, 500m wide and can hold up to 1,200,000 cubic meters of water. It is located 49km north of Fujairah, in a beautiful mountainous area, full of farms.
The valley is made up of dams in the Siji area, where Wadi Siji ‘Old Dam’ has a water storage capacity of 1.2 cubic meters. The dam, built in the 1970s, is 10 meters high and 500m wide. Like many wadis in the Hajar Mountains, Wadi Siji is prone to seasonal floods and high water levels with disastrous consequences. In 2001, UAE President Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan ordered the construction of three more dams in Siji, providing water resources to 312 homes and 210 farms in the area as part of the Dhs250 national water infrastructure development project.
The village is the site of Siji Societal Majlis, which was opened in 2017 by the Crown Prince of Fujairah, which is one of the ways in which the government has invested in rural infrastructure that has improved communication, access and services. The Etihad Rail Network is scheduled to pass through Ward Siji and the Siji terminal must be constructed as part of the second phase of the network rollout. Many quarries and crushers are found throughout Wadi Siji and surrounding mountains. Discovery of petroglyphs and cemeteries has been made in Ward Siji, with petroglyphs specially designed showing horses and riders. Ancient fossils of copper are also found in this area, especially in Wadi Ashwani.
This action followed the instructions of H. Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Member of the Executive Council and Governor of Fujairah, to establish four public positions in the area. The opening ceremony was attended by Sheikh Dr. Rashid bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Chairman of the Fujairah Authority for Culture and Information; Sheikh Maktoum bin Hamad Al Sharqi, other Sheikhs and officials. Sheikh Mohammed commended the successful role played by community officials in exchanging ideas and launching efforts aimed at developing the regions and improving social media to address the problems in these areas.
Wadi Ashwani is one of the tributaries of ward Siji, and has its highest base in the mountains overlooking the Masafi-Fujeirah road. It was introduced to the ward many years ago and enjoyed countless hiking and camping there. In good rainy season the lower half of the river is a favorite picnic spot for local and international families, as this part of the river can be reached by car. There are former farming areas along the river bank, there are many Acacia trees that provide shade, so camping is easy and when the river flows, water is nearby.
The continuation of the river railway divides into two branches along a major trail following a left turn and crosses the river leading to the end of the village of Diftah on the Masafi-Fujeirah road. A track that goes straight becomes more difficult and few people try to get here. After the rains some crossing of the ward is impassable and you have to continue on foot. The track stops in a small enclosed area near a stream. Some people were able to continue their cars, but after the rains, it was best to cross the ward on foot. The trail revolves around steep slopes and you can almost immediately see the rocks look strange. They are very dark and have a melted look with pieces of green inserts here and there. These are remnants of a thriving copper mining business that took place here centuries ago. Copper is mined in mines that used to resemble deep wells. Then they put it in clay pots that were filled with wood until they were full. Many Acacia trees in the area must have helped! When the wood was lighted, the heat of the fire melted the brass metal, and the brass dropped to the bottom of the pot, which was shaped like a shallow vessel. When the work was finished and the pot cooled, it broke and a solid copper disc was removed from the bottom. One of the walls around the farmland on the farm is almost entirely made of large stones of old copper slag.
Moving forward above the trek walks over rocks and low hills, which in good rainy years are covered with many species of wildflowers. Here it found many interesting and beautiful plants there fifteen years ago. I never thought it would find flax in the desert, but it was the first time I saw the beautiful yellow flowers of Linum corymbulosum. The rare Grewia Tenax tree grows here, as does the hairy yellow-spotted Anchusa aegyptia. At one bend the ward bed is sunk into a well-fitting pond. It’s a great place for a coffee stand, as some of the big sidr trees provide shade. In the grass beneath the tree grows a strange plant called broomrape. They come in two colors – dark purple and white. They usually grow on the roots of a member of the nightshade family (Solanum) represented here by desert thorns Lycium shawii.
The ward is not one of the best places for plants in the country. There are also lots of wildlife. The most obvious and largest animals that use the ward system are the wild donkeys that look out over the mountains. Once known as a means of transportation in the days before roads and cars, they have long been released, forced to support themselves, and are able to do so despite difficult circumstances. Small wildlife is represented by snakes we have seen both species hanging from the back and snakes among the rocks along the riverbank. Since none of the local snakes are aggressive, there is no real danger of exploring the fields and hills, as long as you look at where you put your hands and feet. The best wildlife encounters that took place, however, were with Gordon’s wildlife. This is a real wild cat, not a crazy domestic cat. Felis sylvestris is the origin of our tabby cats and in the UAE this breed is represented by a patron named after the British military colonel, Colonel Gordon.
Ward Siji Old Dam is approximately 40 km northwest of Fujairah, Dubai – Fujairah Road ./ Khalifa Bin Zayed Road – E 84.