There are so many ways to experience the UAE ’s sprawling desert. Here I round-up the top five action-packed activities.
Jump in a 4×4, strap on your seat-belt and hold on tight – dune bashing is a thrilling adventure not to be missed. As the expert driver weaves up and down the steepest of dunes you’ll be flung about and turned on your side at breakneck speed. With shrieks of laughter at every corner, it’s fast, furious and not for the fainthearted.
One of the more unusual desert activities, moonlight drumming is ideal for families. Jump in a 4×4 and drive to the designated camp far away from the city lights. Bag a spot next to a bongo drum and follow the lead drummers who involve each guest in a fun and interactive way. With a traditional Arabic buffet and sessions interspersed with dancing, the evening offers a great way to meet new people.
Snowboard enthusiasts will love sand-boarding, the desert-based equivalent. Fasten the board to your boots, place your weight on your back leg, stretch out your arms and glide effortlessly down the sand dune before grinding to a natural halt at the bottom. It might take a few attempts to perfect, but with the wind in your hair and sun on your face, this is a fun activity for sporty types of all ages.
4. Arabic flavours
For something more relaxing, an Arabic barbecue under the stars is a culturally rewarding experience. Offered by many tour operators, the evenings often include a belly dancing performance as well as the opportunity to smoke shisha while sitting majlis-style on cushions on the floor. The real star of the show, though, is the food, which includes tasty salads, grilled meat and delicious desserts.
If you prefer to go it alone and avoid organised tours, jump in your car and take the Dubai to Hatta road. The further you go, the bigger and redder the dunes become as their rich iron oxide content increases. After about 40 minutes you will reach Big Red, also known as Al Hamar, a 300ft sand dune as steep as a black ski run. The scenery alone makes the trip worthwhile, but avoid the area on Friday afternoons and public holidays, when the dunes become crowded and the roads sometimes jammed.
About the Author: This is a guest post by Brian Wood. He is currently studying at the University of Sharjah.