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Dubai at night
Desert Driving Training

Remember the dune bashing during our desert safari? This time it was our turn! We did not just want to join some arbitrary fun course. Our personal goal was to really understand how to drive in desert. Therefore, we signed up for a one day Desert Driving Course at the Emirates Driving Institute – the offical driving school.

Our course started with a theory session where we learned about 4×4 technique, driving modes (low range / high range), which gear to use when (totally different from driving on the road!), recovery and even survival in desert. Then we did our practical training with a Nissan Patrol with manual transmission. At the beginning we had to recover our stuck car without digging. Then we started with driving. It takes a while until you trust your car. Like I already wrote in the Overnight Desert Safari post, it constantly feels like you are rolling over, especially when turning the car in a steep dune. You have to drive them at full throttle to use the centrifugal force even though your brain tells you to slow down.

Anyway, at the end of the day we were both able to master the dunes. Thanks to our instructor, he was very passionate and friendly and had a lot of practical advises. I am sure this was not our last offroad experience :-)

- Bernd -

Daytrip through the Emirates

One day we went to the airport and rent a car for a day to explore the area around Dubai.
Our original plan was to cross the border to Oman. Either the north border to see the fjords of al-Chasab or the east border to swim in the “wadis” (natural waterholes) in the mountains. For your information, if you have such plans, too: Currently, it is NOT possible to cross the border as a tourist. You need a guided tour with a local or to travel by plane.
We drove to Ras al-Chaima close to the northern border instead. Not much to see there but we found camels along the way. The rest of the day we made our way to the Hatta mountains. Interesting to see, how the sandy landscape turned into mountained. Not rocky, like the Alps but with pepple stone. Perfect to practice offroad driving, if you leave the highway for a while ;-)
Our destination was Hatta, a village two kilometers from the east border to Oman. They have a big barrier lake and an old Bedouin village (“Hatta Heritage Village”) you can visit for free. Nothing spectacular, but definitely worth the trip!

- Bernd -

Overnight Desert Safari

Spending one night in the desert was more than usual camping with an extra portion of sand. They picked us and another couple up in the afternoon. With a 4×4 car we drove into a wildlife reserve to watch wild animals and a falcon hunting show. After the show we drove deeper into desert for dune bashing (=traversing dunes in a daredevil way ;-) ). It was such a thrill, it felt like your car was about to roll over all the time. Of course, we had an experienced driver. After dune bashing we had a short ride on the back of a camel, which brought us to the camp where we spent the night. The next morning we got up early to watch the sunrise while antilopes were passing by. After breakfast our driver, wildlife expert, chef and camp leader drove us back to Dubai. Yes, I know, the whole story sounds like kitsch ;-) but we had a great time…recommended!

- Bernd -

The new and the old Dubai

The Emirates in general and especially Dubai has been on my list for a few years now so I was very happy when we went there in February. It is impressive seeing what people have built from scratch in only a few decades. Before the sixties Dubai was a little Bedouin settlement. Then oil was discovered and the production brought wealth to not only the three Emirates which own oil themselves but also to the other four including Dubai. Today Dubai stands for luxury and I admit that I have never seen so many Rolls Royces, Bentleys and Aston Martins at one place. The view from the top of Burj Khalifa, tallest building in the world, was amazing. On the other hand this Disneyland-like kind of entertainment becomes boring quite soon. We felt relieved when we spent a day at “The Creek” which is the old and genuine part of Dubai. We also decided to make another daytrip from Dubai to escape this artifical world. If you are not a shopping wacko a week only in Dubai city will be too long.

- Bernd -