Abandoned Arabia: 15 eerie oddities we dare you to explore!

Published August 25th, 2015 - 18:32 GMT

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Arabia abounds with abandoned places. Pyramids and palaces and fantastic architecture from the world’s great religions are critical to the history of our region, and mankind. They are hallowed and highbrow.  But what about the other stuff we build, then walk away from?  Either because we ran out of cash to complete the projects, or used them for what they were made for - then dumped them like a takeaway coffee cup. Continue reading below »

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In the early 2000s, a nutty Frenchman built an outdoor cinema on Egypt’s southern Sinai Peninsula, but someone sabotaged his power generator and no films were ever shown. Remote (near Sharm el Sheik's mountains) and fairly inaccessible, the site was well preserved, making for surreal photographs like this from Estonian photographer Kaupo Kikkas.
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Image 1 of 14:  1 / 14In the early 2000s, a nutty Frenchman built an outdoor cinema on Egypt’s southern Sinai Peninsula, but someone sabotaged his power generator and no films were ever shown. Remote (near Sharm el Sheik's mountains) and fairly inaccessible, the site was well preserved, making for surreal photographs like this from Estonian photographer Kaupo Kikkas.

Enlarge
Vandals have now reduced the 150 seats of the secret Sinai cinema to rubble - recent travelers there found it destroyed. Metal seat parts were gone (likely sold for scrap) and the painted wood panels scattered on the sand. Supposedly there’s a Facebook group striving to revive the place. Popcorn, anyone? (Image by Noha Zayed)
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Image 2 of 14:  2 / 14Vandals have now reduced the 150 seats of the secret Sinai cinema to rubble - recent travelers there found it destroyed. Metal seat parts were gone (likely sold for scrap) and the painted wood panels scattered on the sand. Supposedly there’s a Facebook group striving to revive the place. Popcorn, anyone? (Image by Noha Zayed)

Enlarge
As part of a series called ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’, photographer Muhammed Muheisen shot abandoned amusement parks, capturing this ghostly example on the outskirts of Nablus on the West Bank. We get the Ferris Wheel, but what's up with the engine-less airplane ride? (The National)
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Image 3 of 14:  3 / 14As part of a series called ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’, photographer Muhammed Muheisen shot abandoned amusement parks, capturing this ghostly example on the outskirts of Nablus on the West Bank. We get the Ferris Wheel, but what's up with the engine-less airplane ride? (The National)

Enlarge
In 1960, a US businessman converted this 1930s seaplane into a luxury “flying yacht” and landed it at the Strait of Tirana near the Gulf of Aqaba. Anchored near shore for the night, he was attacked by armed Bedouin soldiers who mistook him for an Israeli commando - a dream holiday turned nightmare. (UrbanGhostsMedia)
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Image 4 of 14:  4 / 14In 1960, a US businessman converted this 1930s seaplane into a luxury “flying yacht” and landed it at the Strait of Tirana near the Gulf of Aqaba. Anchored near shore for the night, he was attacked by armed Bedouin soldiers who mistook him for an Israeli commando - a dream holiday turned nightmare. (UrbanGhostsMedia)

Enlarge
An abandoned Soviet cargo plane at the old Umm Al Quwain airfield boasts birds' nests and billboards, but what's it doing parked in the UAE?  It landed in 1999, registered to Centrafrican Airlines - an outfit connected with notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout. The airfield it sits on is also bad shape. (John Dennehy/The National)
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Image 5 of 14:  5 / 14An abandoned Soviet cargo plane at the old Umm Al Quwain airfield boasts birds' nests and billboards, but what's it doing parked in the UAE? It landed in 1999, registered to Centrafrican Airlines - an outfit connected with notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout. The airfield it sits on is also bad shape. (John Dennehy/The National)

Enlarge
An oilman exploring Egypt’s remote Western Desert spotted this WW2 RAF fighter plane, crash-landed 70 years ago by a British pilot and spectacularly preserved by the dry climate. The pilot's remains were never found (perhaps he tried to walk through the Sahara?) but the wreckage will likely be restored as a museum piece. (Image by Jakub Perka)
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Image 6 of 14:  6 / 14An oilman exploring Egypt’s remote Western Desert spotted this WW2 RAF fighter plane, crash-landed 70 years ago by a British pilot and spectacularly preserved by the dry climate. The pilot's remains were never found (perhaps he tried to walk through the Sahara?) but the wreckage will likely be restored as a museum piece. (Image by Jakub Perka)

Enlarge
These concrete towers are the remains of an abandoned flyover leading to Jebel Ali Palm Island and Deira Palm Island in Dubai - two palm tree-shaped developments in the Arabian Sea that also are far from complete (although visible from space!). (Image by Richard Allenby-Pratt)
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Image 7 of 14:  7 / 14These concrete towers are the remains of an abandoned flyover leading to Jebel Ali Palm Island and Deira Palm Island in Dubai - two palm tree-shaped developments in the Arabian Sea that also are far from complete (although visible from space!). (Image by Richard Allenby-Pratt)

Enlarge
Riyadh’s derelict Iraq Hospital once treated Gulf War soldiers, but now attracts young ghost hunters determined to rid the site of malevolent Jinn (spectral beings that, according to the Quran and Arab myth, tempt us to do the wrong thing). YouTube videos show young ghostbusters at play, some set the place on fire, or was it the Jinn?
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Image 8 of 14:  8 / 14Riyadh’s derelict Iraq Hospital once treated Gulf War soldiers, but now attracts young ghost hunters determined to rid the site of malevolent Jinn (spectral beings that, according to the Quran and Arab myth, tempt us to do the wrong thing). YouTube videos show young ghostbusters at play, some set the place on fire, or was it the Jinn?

Enlarge
Photographer Richard Allenby-Pratt discovered this deserted desert amphitheater a short drive from Dubai, but found no backstory as to how it came to be there. A nearby facility is used for equestrian activities, and it's been suggested that this concrete structure may have been built for a single event, with no current functionality. #OnlyInDubai?
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Image 9 of 14:  9 / 14Photographer Richard Allenby-Pratt discovered this deserted desert amphitheater a short drive from Dubai, but found no backstory as to how it came to be there. A nearby facility is used for equestrian activities, and it's been suggested that this concrete structure may have been built for a single event, with no current functionality. #OnlyInDubai?

Enlarge
Gaza International Airport opened in 1998, but in 2001 Israel bombed its control tower. The next year the IDF bulldozed the runway, leaving only tiny Gaza Airstrip to handle regional flights. Over 7,000 Gazan kids set a Guinness World Record dribbling basketballs on an undamaged ramp in 2010. Cute, but not what a national airport is meant for.
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Image 10 of 14:  10 / 14Gaza International Airport opened in 1998, but in 2001 Israel bombed its control tower. The next year the IDF bulldozed the runway, leaving only tiny Gaza Airstrip to handle regional flights. Over 7,000 Gazan kids set a Guinness World Record dribbling basketballs on an undamaged ramp in 2010. Cute, but not what a national airport is meant for.

Enlarge
From real wars to Star Wars - Luke Skywalker's home planet of Tatooine is actually still standing in Tunisia.
Many of the 1977 movie sets have been buried under decades of blowing sands, but what still stands attracts a steady stream of a Star Wars obsessives. (Rä di Martino/Daily Mail)
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Image 11 of 14:  11 / 14From real wars to Star Wars - Luke Skywalker's home planet of Tatooine is actually still standing in Tunisia. Many of the 1977 movie sets have been buried under decades of blowing sands, but what still stands attracts a steady stream of a Star Wars obsessives. (Rä di Martino/Daily Mail)

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Al Qasimi Palace in Ras Al Khaimah was abandoned 22 years ago after supernatural events reportedly spooked its owners. Bloggers frequently visit – sneaking in to film zodiac-sign skylights, see-through floors, and blood-red graffiti telling you to “GO!”, but are ghosts behind the empty palace or was it more of a financial fright?
Reduce

Image 12 of 14:  12 / 14Al Qasimi Palace in Ras Al Khaimah was abandoned 22 years ago after supernatural events reportedly spooked its owners. Bloggers frequently visit – sneaking in to film zodiac-sign skylights, see-through floors, and blood-red graffiti telling you to “GO!”, but are ghosts behind the empty palace or was it more of a financial fright?

Enlarge
Al Jazirat Al Hamra is a tiny coastal village filled with coral-tinged buildings but no humans. Since the 14th Century it was home to the Za’ab tribe – they recently moved to Abu Dhabi housing provided by Sheikh Zayed. People say that the now-deserted ghost town is full of Jinns in the form of animals (goats and large cats). Visit if you dare!
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Image 13 of 14:  13 / 14Al Jazirat Al Hamra is a tiny coastal village filled with coral-tinged buildings but no humans. Since the 14th Century it was home to the Za’ab tribe – they recently moved to Abu Dhabi housing provided by Sheikh Zayed. People say that the now-deserted ghost town is full of Jinns in the form of animals (goats and large cats). Visit if you dare!

Enlarge
In debt in Dubai? Bouncing checks in Abu Dhabi? Both crimes in the UAE, with hefty fines or prison. So how do the well-heeled handle missed car payments? UAE parking lots turn into drop sites for unwanted wheels, with airports especially haunted by gas-guzzling ghosts. The most famous was a $1.6 MIL Ferrari owned by a British fraudster.
Reduce

Image 14 of 14:  14 / 14In debt in Dubai? Bouncing checks in Abu Dhabi? Both crimes in the UAE, with hefty fines or prison. So how do the well-heeled handle missed car payments? UAE parking lots turn into drop sites for unwanted wheels, with airports especially haunted by gas-guzzling ghosts. The most famous was a $1.6 MIL Ferrari owned by a British fraudster.

Enlarge

1

In the early 2000s, a nutty Frenchman built an outdoor cinema on Egypt’s southern Sinai Peninsula, but someone sabotaged his power generator and no films were ever shown. Remote (near Sharm el Sheik's mountains) and fairly inaccessible, the site was well preserved, making for surreal photographs like this from Estonian photographer Kaupo Kikkas.

Image 1 of 14In the early 2000s, a nutty Frenchman built an outdoor cinema on Egypt’s southern Sinai Peninsula, but someone sabotaged his power generator and no films were ever shown. Remote (near Sharm el Sheik's mountains) and fairly inaccessible, the site was well preserved, making for surreal photographs like this from Estonian photographer Kaupo Kikkas.

2

Vandals have now reduced the 150 seats of the secret Sinai cinema to rubble - recent travelers there found it destroyed. Metal seat parts were gone (likely sold for scrap) and the painted wood panels scattered on the sand. Supposedly there’s a Facebook group striving to revive the place. Popcorn, anyone? (Image by Noha Zayed)

Image 2 of 14Vandals have now reduced the 150 seats of the secret Sinai cinema to rubble - recent travelers there found it destroyed. Metal seat parts were gone (likely sold for scrap) and the painted wood panels scattered on the sand. Supposedly there’s a Facebook group striving to revive the place. Popcorn, anyone? (Image by Noha Zayed)

3

As part of a series called ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’, photographer Muhammed Muheisen shot abandoned amusement parks, capturing this ghostly example on the outskirts of Nablus on the West Bank. We get the Ferris Wheel, but what's up with the engine-less airplane ride? (The National)

Image 3 of 14As part of a series called ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’, photographer Muhammed Muheisen shot abandoned amusement parks, capturing this ghostly example on the outskirts of Nablus on the West Bank. We get the Ferris Wheel, but what's up with the engine-less airplane ride? (The National)

4

In 1960, a US businessman converted this 1930s seaplane into a luxury “flying yacht” and landed it at the Strait of Tirana near the Gulf of Aqaba. Anchored near shore for the night, he was attacked by armed Bedouin soldiers who mistook him for an Israeli commando - a dream holiday turned nightmare. (UrbanGhostsMedia)

Image 4 of 14In 1960, a US businessman converted this 1930s seaplane into a luxury “flying yacht” and landed it at the Strait of Tirana near the Gulf of Aqaba. Anchored near shore for the night, he was attacked by armed Bedouin soldiers who mistook him for an Israeli commando - a dream holiday turned nightmare. (UrbanGhostsMedia)

5

An abandoned Soviet cargo plane at the old Umm Al Quwain airfield boasts birds' nests and billboards, but what's it doing parked in the UAE?  It landed in 1999, registered to Centrafrican Airlines - an outfit connected with notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout. The airfield it sits on is also bad shape. (John Dennehy/The National)

Image 5 of 14An abandoned Soviet cargo plane at the old Umm Al Quwain airfield boasts birds' nests and billboards, but what's it doing parked in the UAE? It landed in 1999, registered to Centrafrican Airlines - an outfit connected with notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout. The airfield it sits on is also bad shape. (John Dennehy/The National)

6

An oilman exploring Egypt’s remote Western Desert spotted this WW2 RAF fighter plane, crash-landed 70 years ago by a British pilot and spectacularly preserved by the dry climate. The pilot's remains were never found (perhaps he tried to walk through the Sahara?) but the wreckage will likely be restored as a museum piece. (Image by Jakub Perka)

Image 6 of 14An oilman exploring Egypt’s remote Western Desert spotted this WW2 RAF fighter plane, crash-landed 70 years ago by a British pilot and spectacularly preserved by the dry climate. The pilot's remains were never found (perhaps he tried to walk through the Sahara?) but the wreckage will likely be restored as a museum piece. (Image by Jakub Perka)

7

These concrete towers are the remains of an abandoned flyover leading to Jebel Ali Palm Island and Deira Palm Island in Dubai - two palm tree-shaped developments in the Arabian Sea that also are far from complete (although visible from space!). (Image by Richard Allenby-Pratt)

Image 7 of 14These concrete towers are the remains of an abandoned flyover leading to Jebel Ali Palm Island and Deira Palm Island in Dubai - two palm tree-shaped developments in the Arabian Sea that also are far from complete (although visible from space!). (Image by Richard Allenby-Pratt)

8

Riyadh’s derelict Iraq Hospital once treated Gulf War soldiers, but now attracts young ghost hunters determined to rid the site of malevolent Jinn (spectral beings that, according to the Quran and Arab myth, tempt us to do the wrong thing). YouTube videos show young ghostbusters at play, some set the place on fire, or was it the Jinn?

Image 8 of 14Riyadh’s derelict Iraq Hospital once treated Gulf War soldiers, but now attracts young ghost hunters determined to rid the site of malevolent Jinn (spectral beings that, according to the Quran and Arab myth, tempt us to do the wrong thing). YouTube videos show young ghostbusters at play, some set the place on fire, or was it the Jinn?

9

Photographer Richard Allenby-Pratt discovered this deserted desert amphitheater a short drive from Dubai, but found no backstory as to how it came to be there. A nearby facility is used for equestrian activities, and it's been suggested that this concrete structure may have been built for a single event, with no current functionality. #OnlyInDubai?

Image 9 of 14Photographer Richard Allenby-Pratt discovered this deserted desert amphitheater a short drive from Dubai, but found no backstory as to how it came to be there. A nearby facility is used for equestrian activities, and it's been suggested that this concrete structure may have been built for a single event, with no current functionality. #OnlyInDubai?

10

Gaza International Airport opened in 1998, but in 2001 Israel bombed its control tower. The next year the IDF bulldozed the runway, leaving only tiny Gaza Airstrip to handle regional flights. Over 7,000 Gazan kids set a Guinness World Record dribbling basketballs on an undamaged ramp in 2010. Cute, but not what a national airport is meant for.

Image 10 of 14Gaza International Airport opened in 1998, but in 2001 Israel bombed its control tower. The next year the IDF bulldozed the runway, leaving only tiny Gaza Airstrip to handle regional flights. Over 7,000 Gazan kids set a Guinness World Record dribbling basketballs on an undamaged ramp in 2010. Cute, but not what a national airport is meant for.

11

From real wars to Star Wars - Luke Skywalker's home planet of Tatooine is actually still standing in Tunisia.
Many of the 1977 movie sets have been buried under decades of blowing sands, but what still stands attracts a steady stream of a Star Wars obsessives. (Rä di Martino/Daily Mail)

Image 11 of 14From real wars to Star Wars - Luke Skywalker's home planet of Tatooine is actually still standing in Tunisia. Many of the 1977 movie sets have been buried under decades of blowing sands, but what still stands attracts a steady stream of a Star Wars obsessives. (Rä di Martino/Daily Mail)

12

Al Qasimi Palace in Ras Al Khaimah was abandoned 22 years ago after supernatural events reportedly spooked its owners. Bloggers frequently visit – sneaking in to film zodiac-sign skylights, see-through floors, and blood-red graffiti telling you to “GO!”, but are ghosts behind the empty palace or was it more of a financial fright?

Image 12 of 14Al Qasimi Palace in Ras Al Khaimah was abandoned 22 years ago after supernatural events reportedly spooked its owners. Bloggers frequently visit – sneaking in to film zodiac-sign skylights, see-through floors, and blood-red graffiti telling you to “GO!”, but are ghosts behind the empty palace or was it more of a financial fright?

13

Al Jazirat Al Hamra is a tiny coastal village filled with coral-tinged buildings but no humans. Since the 14th Century it was home to the Za’ab tribe – they recently moved to Abu Dhabi housing provided by Sheikh Zayed. People say that the now-deserted ghost town is full of Jinns in the form of animals (goats and large cats). Visit if you dare!

Image 13 of 14Al Jazirat Al Hamra is a tiny coastal village filled with coral-tinged buildings but no humans. Since the 14th Century it was home to the Za’ab tribe – they recently moved to Abu Dhabi housing provided by Sheikh Zayed. People say that the now-deserted ghost town is full of Jinns in the form of animals (goats and large cats). Visit if you dare!

14

In debt in Dubai? Bouncing checks in Abu Dhabi? Both crimes in the UAE, with hefty fines or prison. So how do the well-heeled handle missed car payments? UAE parking lots turn into drop sites for unwanted wheels, with airports especially haunted by gas-guzzling ghosts. The most famous was a $1.6 MIL Ferrari owned by a British fraudster.

Image 14 of 14In debt in Dubai? Bouncing checks in Abu Dhabi? Both crimes in the UAE, with hefty fines or prison. So how do the well-heeled handle missed car payments? UAE parking lots turn into drop sites for unwanted wheels, with airports especially haunted by gas-guzzling ghosts. The most famous was a $1.6 MIL Ferrari owned by a British fraudster.

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You’ve heard the term “cradle-to-cradle”? It’s a sustainable approach to design where all aspects of a product are planned to be recyclable or repurposed. It’s a mindset that influences each decision in terms of impacts on our planet and future generations by reducing waste and ever-expanding landfills. (In light of Beirut’s garbage wars, that’s a credo most of us can sign up to.) It’s the way of the future, if we want a future - a paradigm shift that’s still in the making.

Meanwhile, we are stocked with discarded structures, each with a curious story. It's the making of a new bucket list - dare you visit these daunting destinations?  Tell us if you do, and if you stumble across other examples. 

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