After the last presentation session of the ERPBSS conference (that I went to in November 2011, more on that on my previous post), the delegates were taken on a dune drive excursion event.
Here is the snapshot of a section of the fleet of cars that were about to take off for a dune adventure journey in the desert. In the following picture you can see the array of cars that were about to leave the Hotel Pullman, Mall of the Emirates for the dune drive expedition and the cultural show thereafter.
Here is the photo of the site once we reached. Here in this photo we were in the middle of a desert under the open sky.
The drive was thrilling! We were on a 4w drive on the sands. This was an exhilarating experience! I had been to Dubai many times before my conference yet I could not muster the strength of my nerves to go for it! Every time Shelly was with me on my previous trips to Dubai, he did not take the adventure since my medical conditions did not give me the audacity to face this challenge. However, during late 2011 once there was an optional tour for the delegates of the conference, I registered for myself and Shelly to give it a shot!
We set out on the expedition of sand dunes on Thursday, the 24th of November 2011. I bought a ticket for me and Shelly at AED 200 per person, and the entire package included pickup from the hotel in an SUV, a 45 minute drive into the desert, and they served beverages at a pit-stop in the desert, welcoming fruits like dates, tea and coffee of traditional Arabic style, entertainment, traditional hubbly-bubbly (although I did not experience that), dinner, and a drop-off at home. The desert safari was arranged by the Middlesex University in Dubai. We experienced the view of the changing patterns of the high sand dunes across the Hajar Mountains which extended from the UAE through Oman, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. The entire event was a 07 hour expedition that started at 3 pm and ended at 10 pm.
There were a number of local camels strolling at the site. If the delegates wanted to have a ride on the camels, they could do so if they wanted to.
The expert driver of our car was an Egyptian gentleman who also provided us a guided tour. As a safety harness, we were asked to fasten our seatbelts all the time during the ride. We departed from the hotel and drove up to the point where they deflated the tires before entering the desert where the off-road adventure started with dune bashing. This was quite a roller coaster ride in the sand dunes! Though the driver was quite an expert and we were tied securely with the seatbelts yet I got a little hurt in one of my collar bones due to one of the sudden jerks! Later I managed to forget the pain!
Once we were done with dune bashing expedition, we were taken to a place in the desert where there was an arrangement for the Arabian cultural show and Arabian dinner with barbecue.
The desert was hot in daytime yet quite cool at night! Once I set my foot to get out of the car and wade through the sea of sands into the desert in order to reach the destination where there was arrangement of the cultural show in the desert camp, my feet were sinking in the pool of sands just like getting drowned into the ‘quicksand effect’ of the sand dunes and it took me ages to wander from one place to another which only was a very small walking distance! This is when I realized how painful it was for the prophets of this region who used to travel mostly by foot just to preach about the revelation! Preaching a religion in this geographical domain was never easy!
We were all set and ready to watch the cultural show once the dune drive expedition was over. The cultural show and barbecue dinner was accompanied by an arrangement of henna painting and sheesha smoking. Below is a couple of snapshots of the show where an artiste danced wearing illuminated costume in the show in the ‘Bedouin Camp’.
Here is an Egyptian man dancing the Tanoura dance that had its origin in Egypt; his dress was full of lights! We were shown belly-dancing here in this show as well but I refrained from uploading it here for obvious reasons as a close picture of the belly dancer might just be offensive to some cultures… you can catch a glimpse of all of these dances in the YouTube videos that I have uploaded in this post that provide a long shot of these dances. It is interesting to note, however, that in a country like the UAE, there are fully clad women in their abayas (abāyah in Arabic, which is a cloak, usually a simple, loose, robe-like dress that women wear in the Muslim world) yet there are belly dancers who make unwarranted display their body!
Here is a high definition YouTube video on Tanoura dance, uploaded by daintellekt. You can have a look at this exotic dance, up-close and personal:
Let me share a nice YouTube video on Abu Dhabi and Dubai dune drive uploaded by Eline Fauconnier in her YouTube channel. This video is a the thrill of the experience. You shall get a feel of the dune bashing experience from this video:
Here is a high definition YouTube video on ‘Dubai Desert Safari Tour Belly Dance’ uploaded by daintellekt:
Once the show was over, we drove back to the inflation point where they inflated the tires to drive back to the hotel. The desert safari was an unforgettable experience one should take back home.