If you are completely new to off-road cycling, then your first step should definitely be to get in contact with one or several of the MTB groups in the UAE. Mainly based in Dubai, most of these groups organise weekly rides in safe, easily-accessible locations, such as near Nad Al Sheba, to help newbies get the feeling for riding without asphalt under their tyres. If you’re not yet completely certain that mountain biking is the sport for you, you can rent an MTB and try a couple of these beginner rides first to see if you take to it. Later, you can join a group on one of their various routes in the Hajars – all groups offer rides of various difficulties to encourage newer riders, as well as routes that challenge the country’s more experienced bikers.
Dubai Mountain Bikers (find on Facebook) is a newly-organised group which has the goal of connecting MTBers in Dubai with other bikers who love to share their exciting experiences of off-road riding. Aimed at all levels, it is a good first port of call. The Roost Tah group (again on Facebook) is equally welcoming to different levels, with training sessions taking place on easy terrain. UAE Mountain biking and Mountain Biking UAE are a pair of informal groups of like-minded riders – drop them a line or check out their Facebook sites for upcoming rides.
An alternative – and a nice way to get started – would be to combine your first off-road bike experience with a weekend break with family or friends, and take advantage of the organised guided tours that operators offer. This approach gives you the advantage of not having to buy or rent a bike and you can simply follow the guide on a safe trip.