While visiting Dubai this week to cover the Dubai Motor Show,
I got an invitation to take a Chevy Tahoe four-wheel drive deep into
the desert for a half-hour camel ride across the spectacular red dunes
of Margham in the Arabian Desert about 40 miles outside of Dubai. Then
abandon tradition for an altogether more breathtaking mode of
transport: strapping on a sand board for an exhilarating ride down the
steep-sided dunes to the valley floor below. Return to the city around
The first form of transportation here in the Middle East was after all the camel so it seemed
automotive related enough to capture my car girl spirit of adventure to accept ......so off I went Wednesday morning to experience the Arabian Desert and see what the Chevy Tahoe 4 x 4 would do driving on sand dunes! The snowboarding part was at this point a question mark for me.
Arabian Adventures was the outfitter who picked us up, Natalie Johnson of GM accompanied me, we American gals like to travel in pairs here. Another young woman from Vermont was also part of our group so our female American tourist threesome left the city in our Chevy Tahoe 4 x 4 around 9:30 am in heavy traffic. I was really looking forward to getting out of the city with all the hustle bustle, traffic, smog and construction noise 24/7 .
Our driver pointed out the points of interest along the way; flamingos gathered at a shallow lake, one of many camel race tracks, the older house of the ruler of Dubai, malls and neighborhoods under contraction everywhere. Finally we passed into the open desert with dots of farms and a few houses and then we started seeing camels dotting the landscape, one baby camel posing for a close up. We were heading for the Dubai Conservation and Preservation Reserve area.
Upon arrival at the gate we greeted by a ranger , checked in and then the fun really started. Our
driver let out about half the air in the tires in preparation for the
sand dune romp. We drove in a caravan of Chevy Tahoe 4 x 4's at a
pretty fast clip, bumping along, across and over sand dunes toward a
small encampment deep in the desert for about 30 minutes, where camel
would be waiting for us to ride. The Tahoe handled the terrain
beautifully, however it would have been much more fun to drive
ourselves and Natalie from GM was really joansing to drive, at one
point we literally begged our driver to let us drive , but he said he
would be fired if he did. We needed to sign up for another tour to
Drive.... The pictures do not do this area justice, it is very
expansive, beautiful and pristine.
Surprisingly, Dubai is quite environmentally conscious and there is much happening in the government to insure that this area remains pristine and much eco-consciousness buzz here. Recycling bins were lined up at the entrance, a great idea for the National and State Parks in the US to adopt.
Our camels were in full Arabic costume and we mounted up two per each camel and headed off on a slow walk around the dunes. The one I rode was the leader and named Jolly, behind me was Bunny who kept nuzzling my leg every chance she could. Now I can say I've been hugged by a
camel. They were quite tame and well mannered and after I relaxed, it began to sink in exactly where I was and what the heck I was doing ! WOW, I am in the middle of the Arabian Desert riding on a camel, woo HOO!
After our leisurely camel ride we were taken up to the top of a 75 foot dune and given instructions on how to use a snowboard on a sand dune. I was pensive about the whole idea. I did not want to get injured this far from home.....the three of us girls waited and let a couple of teen guys go first to see what it would be like. They went down like pros on the first attempt. I decided to try it sitting on the board rather than standing. I made it down without injury but got a face full of fine soft sand in every crevasse, due to planting my hands in the sand for balance rather than keeping them on the board. Natalie was stellar once she got nerve enough to try and our friend from Vermont sat like me and all in all it was pretty fun to do and really fun watching everyone go down and I even went down again for the heck of it.
I am still pinching myself and saying; Yes, I was 8300 miles from Los Angeles in the middle of the Arabian Desert riding camels, snowboarding on sand dunes and riding in a GM Chevy 4 x 4 sand dune romping. A car girl's version of a real life Arabian romance.
President on assignment in Dubai