; Phantoms and Monsters - Real Cryptid Encounter Reports - Fortean Researcher Lon Strickler

Monday, October 18, 2021

Real Account: Al-Hamra 'Ghost Town' & Possible Djinn Encounter

A young Arabic woman and her friends are traveling in the UAE desert, setting up camp at night. They travel through a bustling village, but later find that it is later abandoned and desolate. Possible Djinn encounter as well. 

The the following account was recently forwarded to me:

"Do you know that feeling when you feel like you see something, and others don’t and you have a hard time convincing others it was real? Usually, it’s one or two of your overly paranormal believing friends against the word of your logical friends.

I was born and raised in the Middle East in the United Arab Emirates. There, ghosts aren’t a thing people really talk about, but we believe in ‘djinn’ or demons. Not in a paranormal way, but rather in terms of religious beliefs. So, growing up, my mom and dad always taught me little things, like cultural things we took part in such as saying the name of God when I’m afraid to help relieve fear when I used to get scared of the dark and so on. You should also know, believing in ghosts is a bit of a taboo due to religious reasons. So growing up, I never believed the paranormal. It wasn’t right nor encouraged

The setting of this event is in the Middle East. A group of 12 friends and I (19 year old female) from high school decided to go for a road and camping trip, but hadn’t fully decided where still. Driving to other states would have just taken a few hours between states (for those of you living in other countries, a drive between each of our states usually takes anywhere between an hour and 4 hours depending on the state).

We decided to use two cars. My friend had a 2000 Nissan Patrol Safari that could fit 8 people because there was a seat in the trunk area that opened into a three-person seat. We decided to use one car for mostly passengers and one for all the food and camping equipment. My parents dropped me and 4 of my friends off at a petrol station where the whole group was meeting up to drive off together, and to grab some snacks, gas and some ice for our coolers before we decided to head off .

The whole time, we don’t really have a clear plan as to where we are going to camp. But one thing is worth mentioning, we live is a very safe place, and its 90% mountains and desert so there aren’t any creepy woods or much anything can hide behind. So it’s not uncommon for people to just randomly drive around across the roads until they find somewhere that looks like a good place to camp. We also weren’t really planners, and half the time had no idea the exact ’area’ we were driving through. There isn’t much you could go wrong with though, because the roads between the states are always straight and there aren’t multiple directions you need to follow.

We drove about 2 hours until we reached a place called al-Masafi, where we stopped for lunch at a small restaurant, and then drove another hour until we got to a place called “Juma bazaar” or the Friday markets. Now if you heard this story from my friend who was with me when this happened, she wouldn’t have mentioned it because she thinks I’m reading too much into it. But when I was at the bazaar, I was speaking to a one of the locals of the area, about the wide variety of fruits he was selling. He was also selling a bag lychees that looked like they were going to expire soon for a much cheaper price. I asked him “do people actually buy these? I can't imagine eating all these fruits fast enough to finish it before they all expire.” He looked at me completely seriously and said, “its okay if I don’t sell them, I’ll just drive them down that road (he starts pointing to a path that looked off road, but cars have clearly worn the path out) and when I drive back, they’ll be fresh again.”

I genuinely laughed, because I assumed since Arabic wasn’t his first language, what I said got lost in translation, or that he meant he’ll just there (where maybe the farm is?) and get fresh lychees. Keep this part in mind for later.

At this point it is about 3pm. We got into the car and decided to drive to a spot my friend (20 m) had gone to before with his family. He put the location into Google Maps and we drive off. When we were driving through the spot, we passed a village. The village was incredible. There were people, sitting outside their homes and waving at our car as we drove past. Villagers did this often with city folks, and especially more so in smaller villages like the one we drove through. While we were going through the village, I find the need to mention that they really wanted us to get out of our cars. A man at some point stepped in front of our car, and if we were going any faster, we would have hit him. He had a tray of pomegranates cut up and started yelling, “please come eat!, come eat !! “ The pomegranates were so red, so fresh and so red, almost as if they were literally just picked off a tree. Pomegranates cannot be grown naturally where we are, so for that villager to have it, they would have had to gone to a supermarket to get it. We thought that the villagers were being very hospitable, but my friends said we have wasted so much time stopping and if we stop in the village, we will have to setup our tents in the dark. We drove through the village, not stopping even though we thought that we were being practically forced out of our cars with food and invites to the villagers’ homes. My friend even said, “they offer you food, and then force you to buy their fruits and handmade items I bet.” I wasn’t unsettled then, the group I was travelling with was too big for me to be scared, but something about those people made me want to get out, like I wanted to stay there with them.

I’ll describe the village a bit, the houses were made of large brick shaped stones, held together with a paste made of hay and mud, there were multiple houses spread across the area. The village was heavily populated. There were chickens just roaming around, with goats and even a donkey and her young. There were kids, as passed by a group of boys playing football. There were a lot of people there.

When we got to our camp it was 7PM and we didn’t take long to setup. We managed to setup our camp way before it was fully dark and even made a fire. We sat around the fire, took out some drinks from our cooler and put some marinated chicken over the fire. Nothing about our campsite was scary, the whole area in front of us was simply desert as far as you eye could see. We had setup camp above a dune and about 2km behind us was a few mountains we could very clearly see, not just the outline of but even during the evening at 7PM, I could clearly see the mountain. The scariest thing you’ll probably encounter here is a goat chewing through your tent. Snakes, scorpions, and smaller desert foxes are possible, but highly unlikely if there is a fire lit in the area. We also weren’t the only campers, there was a family with two kids camping a few dunes over.

We spent a long time by the fire, talking and eating food. We all went to bed at around 2AM. It was pitch black and I was freezing beyond belief and went into the tent I was sharing with two others. I don’t really know when the last person decided to sleep, but I know that when I woke up at 4:10AM, I wouldn’t hear anything at all from my camp – it was dead silent. So silent that I could clearly make out at the family that we saw earlier in the day was up and talking. I heard opening and closing of doors, a lot of talking, it sounded like they were whisper yelling. Like yelling, but it whispers. They were not speaking English, it was either German or something that sounded German. No one else heard this so I can’t confirm what language it was. But I know that about 20 minutes or so later I heard the car start and I could hear the car driving off (its also not uncommon for people to camp through only half the night, especially since it was a weekday and maybe they needed to be somewhere the next day).

I fell asleep and woke up at around 5AM, so did all my friends in the tent, and it was starting to get lighter outside. We got out the tent to go to the 'bathroom' (it’s a desert, and not many places for privacy) so we thought we’d go find a place in a group and do so before all the boys woke up too. As I was holding a blanket up around my friends we looked up and noticed what looks like a woman dressed in traditional clothing, with her face mostly covered on top of the mount behind out camp. She was looking straight at us. Maybe she was curious? Maybe she was a villager? We don’t know if there was another village on the other side of that mountain where she came from. My friend waved at her. She didn’t wave back, she just stood there. Then turned around and walked backwards. I felt goosebumps, I didn’t like that.

My head turned towards where the other group of campers were, they’d definitely gone. I looked back, and there was that woman, not have fully left the mountain, but now it was like she was sitting, and I could only see the top half of her head. Was she waiting for us to leave?

The rest of our day was normal, we talked and played games and ate. We even packed up our stuff before sundown and just relaxed around the fire until 8PM. It was starting to get darker now, and we decided to drive back home. We all got into our car and drove towards the mountains to take a path from around the mountains to see where the woman came from. But there was no village there. Maybe the woman was like us? A camper that climbed onto the mountain and left later? It wasn’t scary, but slightly unsettling that she chose to stare at us.

We were driving through the same village we passed through the day before. But there was no one there. Sure, it was night-time and they could be sleeping, but what freaked us out was how the village looked wrecked. Like it wasn’t lived in. The houses looked like they’ve fallen apart, the bricks strewn across the road. Our tires going over them and causing the car to shake, which added to the pure fear I felt. It looked like a bomb had gone off, but there was no bodies, no people at all. No animals, nothing. The buildings that remained had bits missing, like they had been decaying for years. “Where are we?“ My friend opened her phone, “Al-Jazirat al-Hamra” my friend replied. She started reading the articles, "ghost town." What was weird was how this place was only an hour away from our city, which is weird, because we haven’t been driving for 4 hours – we haven’t passed any of the places we had to pass. We haven’t been driving for longer than 2 hours and we’re only an hour away from our city? .

We saw the other car. We were horrified, all of us. It was like we accelerated somehow, or drove for much longer than we thought we were driving. We drove through the city, it was like I could literally see the same house that I saw only a day ago, but this time, ruined, aged like they had been abandoned for years.

We reached the end of the village, existing onto a proper road. Sitting in the seat at the very back, I was too scared to look back to the village. But my friend did, she started crying with a panic/ There was that woman, the same one from the mountain, running behind our car. The whole time we were driving through the village we didn’t see her, nor did we see anyone else. But there she was running. Running as though she wanted to harm us. The car went impossibly fast, both the cars and we drove away from the village. We were terrified. I didn’t sleep when I got home. I tell my mom what happened, and she told me to pray and even asked a Imam (our priests) to pray for me.

I moved out of the country a few months later. I didn’t feel okay anymore. Every now and then I Google the place, watch videos and read articles about the village. The village was abandoned in 1968. We visited this place in 2019 in broad daylight, and there definitely were people there. But not when we passed through it again at night.

Remember the story I said about the local fruit seller saying he drives through “an area” to make the lychees fresh? The most ridiculous thing that happened was when we unloaded the cooler to empty the water left behind by the melted ice. But the ice wasn’t melted. There they were, all the ice in perfect cubes – not melted, not frozen into a blob, but perfect into cubes, as if they had never melted.

None of us know what we went through that night. Most of us don’t really speak to each other anymore, but if we do, we never speak of this trip." GH

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