Surfing the sands in Arabian Peninsula

Lena Padukova
Bring on the heat!

As the racing and cruising were over for this time, I headed home. However, the flight from Brisbane got delayed almost four hours because of some wing malfunction that had to be fixed. When I arrived to Abu Dhabi for the transfer back to Europe, my plane had already left.

Stranded in Arab Emirates, what do you do? Get out to the desert for some action, of course! I quickly made some arrangements and was on my way. I’d never been to UAE, and was curious and hungry for some adventure!

The heat was on; my weather app told me that it was 40+ Celsius but should feel like +49 because of the hot wind. It was like standing in front of jet engines, like I did in Sint Maarten. The car’s readings were at 42+. The sun was blazing. My sunglasses got crashed somewhere between the last boat and the desert, so I had to get a new pair in the nearest gas station (they only had one style to choose from). Sand was everywhere; sipping across the tarmac, flying amid the air, filling up the sky like a sun fog. We headed towards the East, halfway to Oman, for the dunes.

The dunes
I’d watched enough videos of desert racing to be both fascinated by and attracted to it. There’s the element of endurance, both because of physical and mental strain – and the heat, of course. There is the unforgiving environment with a lot of sand getting everywhere, causing all possible and impossible malfunctions, which you’d better be able to fix quick before the heat consumes you. There’s the technical bit of mastering the dune crests, taking the perfect route, balancing between distance traveled and risk of toppling over or getting stuck. And, of course, the vast beauty of the desert, by day and night.

The golden sands of Arabian Peninsula
So, this was an opportunity to do some research for future adventures. Off to the dunes we went for some rough ride, sand blasting on the windshield, car sliding sideways, dunes escaping from under the depressurized tyres as we struggled up the crests, and skidded down in the troughs. Not unlike sailing steep waves! I definitely want to do much more of this. Car, buggy or motorcycle – whichever.

Dune bashing, with a car this time
We were now among steep dunes. It was time to enjoy something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time – sand surfing! Grabbing a modified snowboard, I climbed up the crests and surfed the fine sand down. Great fun! And a good cardio exercise after each surf, climbing up these steep walls in 40+ heat. I surfed on until the sun was down.

Surf's on!
Afterwards I had some barbecue, listened to traditional music sitting down on carpeted sand, enjoyed a bit of black coffee and sweet dates, and finally leaned back to stare into the sky, for some final desert stargazing before heading back into civilization.

Almost forgot – there was a camel farm on the way, where these peculiar animals could be approached closely. My previous experience of camels was from Western India, and they were not too friendly (mostly spitting, biting and farting). These ones seemed to want to cuddle, what a difference!

Camel farm in the desert
This was the perfect way to turn an unexpected stop into something memorable. What a contrast, getting back from several days at sea surfing the waves with a sailboat – and ending up surfing the hot dry sands of Al Khatim. This is the kind of unexpected small adventures that make me tick!

Until later!