“Yella Yella!” screamed Princess enthusiastically to our driver, while her husband Mel held his breath. The feeling of motion sickness engulfed him as our land cruiser sailed through the soft orange dunes of the Al Ain desert. I gave Kerryn the front seat which meant she was on camera duty to capture the action, my strategic move backfired, instead of enjoying the ride I found myself pondering my exit strategy should Mel’s lunch land on my lap. Just another day exploring the United Arab Emirates.
We were in the desert of the UAE, the dunes rolled on as far as the eye could see. The air was hot and dry but surprisingly not unbearable, although the temperature gauge read 40 degrees celsius. My sister had arranged a desert safari, a guided off-road adventure in a v8 Land Cruiser. It was loads of fun as the driver floored it up and over the dunes, getting the car to slide and turn at angles that seemed impossible. A few times I was convinced we would roll, but each time the driver was in complete control, a truly amazing experience. Thankfully, the couple who joined us in our cruiser (Mel and Princess) held onto their lunch and all was well. The same can’t be said for a lady in another group. After about an hour playing in the dunes with the 4×4’s we stopped for the evening to enjoy a traditional meal under the stars, followed by entertainment from a belly dancer.
We had planned to spend a relaxed week in the UAE with my sister, on our return from Spain and the World Routes Conference, but it ended up being quite eventful with lots to see and do. We landed in Dubai and spent the first two nights at a hotel. The days were spent relaxing by the pool and swimming with my nephew. In the evenings we explored the malls and some of the city. Dubai really is a big flashy city with lots of shops to entice the cash out of your wallet, but I was looking to experience something different. On the Saturday morning, my brother-in-law Kevin took me down to the Dubai creek, we jumped on a small boat and crossed the river to the local market known as the Souk. The market is filled with mixed cultures and influences and most of the people frequenting the markets are not locals, but expats from all over the world. We found everything from fabric shops, shoe shops, a fresh food store selling dates and nuts to a local breakfast take away restaurant. In amongst it all were the fancy camera shops where I went looking for deals and just to stare at new cameras. For examples of corporate work done by OD Media go here
We left Dubai after the weekend and travelled an hour and a half to the city of Al Ain where Ros (my sister) and Kevin live. They had work each day, so Kerryn and I were left to play with our nephew in the mornings, who was very entertaining. Each day after a leisurely breakfast, we’d make our way out to explore something new. Kerryn was after the shopping malls which had some great deals, especially on baby clothes which we stocked up on for our twins, while I just got lost in the endless camera shops.
One afternoon when Kevin finished work, we went to Muhammed’s barber shop for a traditional shave. Time was limited with Muhammed but I wanted to capture some of his story. Kevin had been telling me about and how Muhammed has been cutting his hair for the last 9 years and it’s not something that is very common in South Africa, a traditional barber from Pakistan. So in the space of an hour I filmed as much as possible to put a story together.
The highlight for me was spending an afternoon surfing at Wadi Adventures. A man-made wave in the middle of the desert. It is so different to surfing in the ocean, but still feels like the real thing. I couldn’t believe it, a novel wave no doubt, but something to tick off the bucket list.
As the trip came to an end we headed back to Dubai for our final night, where I was able to capture a sunset scene of the city from the roof of the hotel. Tucked away behind the air-con units we sat and just enjoyed the sunset, taking in all we had experienced. We ended the evening off trying out the tasty dynamite shrimp, a mix of fried shrimp with a creamy peri-peri style sauce. Definitely the best shrimp dish I have ever tasted. There is so much more to the UAE than just the big flashy city of Dubai that everyone knows. I can definitely recommend that when traveling there to look a little further, as there is so much more to discover.