It is small, round, white, yellow, orange or red, and it is everywhere in the Emirates. What is it? 🙂
Early morning, sitting in a large SUV with a four-wheel drive, swishing on the highway. The driver, a guide from a tourist agency, is dressed in brown dishdasha looking like an Emirati. He is actually from India but moved in the UAE some thirty years ago and considers the UAE as his country. Actually, the Emirati patriotism of Arabic and Indian immigrants surprises me.
We drive past some native inhabitants and later past a collection of exotic cars next to the highway. Car Museum of Sheikh Zayed has just been added to my to-see list.
After an hour, we drive off the paved road onto the sand, the Arabian adventure begins – the desert trip with experienced driver to see the desert from „inside“ (not only from the highway), but also to experience the weekend hobby of others: the „dune-bashing“. But first, we stop to deflate the tyres a bit.
In the meantime, we investigate the sand. It is a mix of orange and red, small round grains are warm on touch and soon we find out it gets everywhere. Then we continue driving through the desert. Dunes are getting higher and higher, and the driver trying to impress with his driving s-style – moving the driving wheel from left to right and back in fast sequence. Not sure whether it is to avoid sinking in the sand or what, but now I remember the warnings: „Don’t eat before!“ I did eat before and, luckily, my stomach has stamina. Instead, I focus on the country outside, but from time to time I cannot avoid thoughts about the car flipping over. From driver’s behaviour I imagine that in that case we just get ourselves of the car and flip it back to all four.
Suddenly, the car speeds straight up towards the edge of a high dune. The driver breaks and leaves us hanging in a 60 degree position while explaining how to break the dune in order to cross it. Reportedly, by driving up to the edge and down a bit repeatedly, the car will flatten the edge of the dune. Sometimes it needs two/three times, sometimes more to arrange for a safe crossing.
Afterwards, going downhill, it is important to flatten the bottom of the dune to avoid the engine absorbing sand. That’s done by rolling the sand in front of your wheels.
The driver stops down the dune next to a tree and a well (maybe). I am still processing the previous experience, so I do not realise why he is kicking us out of the car. And then he speeds away leaving us in the middle of the desert with no mobile network coverage. And now what?