These names sound like they’re out of Arabian Nights – which is pretty close. Madha and Nahwa are the names of two territories on the Arabian peninsula which up until 15 minutes ago I had never before heard of. Together, they form a type of enclave/exclave complex which I would like to call The Omelet.

The territories are situated on the horn of the peninsula, the one pointing at Iran and prevented from touching it by the Strait of Hormuz. The tip of the horn is an enclave of Oman, the mainland of which is further to the south. On this map, that little piece of Oman on the Strait is not separately named, although several towns are (including Kumzar, on its own oil spill-shaped peninsula) and one interesting natural feature is pointed out: the Jabal al Harim, surprisingly high at 2.087 metres.

One always thinks of Arabia as flat, sandy desert – apparently not entirely correct.

Below this unnamed enclave, the territory of the United Arab Emirates fans out south and west, separating it from Oman proper – and giving the UAE sea access to the Indian Ocean in the process. On the other UAE shore, the one on the Persian Gulf, lies the glittering metropolis of Dubai, currently courting world attention with huge building projects.

On the same latitude as Dubai, but closer again to the Indian Ocean, lie Madha and Nahwa. Madha (75 sq. km) is an Omani enclave within UAE territory, while Nahwa in turn is UAE land, completely surrounded by Oman and part of the Emirate of Sharjah. This rather complex border situation was definitively demarcated only in 1969. Nahwa only consists of a few houses, while most of Madha is uninhabited, making the necessity for this particular delineatory arrangement even more mysterious.


Map found at the Wikipedia entries for Madha and Nahwa.


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Excerpt from the above map.