United Arab Emirates – Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Liwa Oasis & Al Ain

When we heard that Madventure was going to be running their first ever Arabian Peninsula overland tour, we were intrigued and wanted to sign up immediately. The 64 day exploratory tour started in Dubai and ended in Cairo. The United Arab Emirates was our first stop on this epic adventure and we decided to fly in a few days early to visit some friends. It was a great call because we got to visit the World Expo 2020 which was amazing (Saudi Arabia wins hands down for the best pavilion), check out sunset overlooking the Burj Khalifa and the nightly fountain show, and spend some quality time with our Dubai based friends. Then it was time to join the truck and meet the rest of our traveling companions. Our first night with the group was at Lovelake Campsite on the outskirts of Dubai where we quickly pitched our tent and got accustomed to the truck layout. From Dubai, we left for Abu Dhabi where we had 2 nights to explore the city. Highlights here were the Sheik Zayed Grand  Mosque and the Qasr Al Watan Palace (especially the sound and light show in the evening). From Abu Dhabi, we tried to visit Sir Bani Yas Island but covid test requirements were too stringent and it was vastly overpriced ($500 per night hotel rooms or a $280 day tour!) so instead we made our way towards the Liwa Oasis and the Moreeb Sand Dune. This massive sand dune is near the Empty Quarter Desert and the night we camped there was also the same night that the locals decided to hold a massive sand dune drag racing contest. This crazy event involved hundreds of sand dune competitors revving their engines and “dune bashing” (battling it out to race up the UAE’s tallest sand dune rumored to be on a 50 degree slope). We inadvertently set our campsite up at the base of the sand dune so needless to say it was a night to remember with extreme motorsport enthusiasts barreling their way up the dunes all night long just mere meters away from our tents! After leaving Moreeb Sand Dune in our rear view mirror, we made our way to the region’s many forts (Dhafeer Fort, Tower of Marya al Gharbiya, Nimail Fort, and Yabbana Fort). Our final destination in the UAE was Al Ain and we had a full day to check out the camel market, take PCR tests, visit Al Jahili Fort and Sheikh Zayed Palace before heading up a mountain to stay at the excellent Mercure Grand Jebel Hafeet. There we celebrated Robby’s birthday, awaited the results of our PCR test (all negative, yay), swam, played mini golf and ate to our heart’s content. The first country of our Arabian Overland tour is now complete but we still have 7 more to go! Oman is up next so stay tuned.

Our amazing hosts in Dubai - Mafe, Ollie and Dowelly! We enjoyed the artsy vibe in La Mer - an open air shopping, restaurant and beach venue Street mural; La Mer La Mer Beach Street art abounds in eclectic La Mer View of downtown Dubai at sunset Burj Khalifa at night Sculptures of divers at the waterfall; Dubai Mall UAE pavilion; Expo 2020 Saudi Arabia's amazing pavilion at the World Expo India's pavilion; Expo 2020 Metal structures near the mobility pavilion; Expo 2020 Al Khamsa horse sculpture at the main entrance to the Mobility Pavilion; Expo 2020 Street performers at the World Expo 2020 Kuwait pavilion Water feature at the Expo 2020 Nightly performances at the Al Wasl Dome; Expo 2020 Russia pavilion Turkmenistan pavilion; Expo 2020 Street dancers; Expo 2020 50 foot giants of the Mobility Pavilion; Expo 2020 Love Lake campsite Visitor center at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one the world's largest mosques with over 1000 columns; Abu Dhabi Interior of the beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Sheikh Zayed Mosque as seen from the courtyard Boats on a beach; Abu Dhabi Heritage Village; Abu Dhabi Battoulah face mask; Heritage Village Interior view of the Qasr Al Watan Presidential Palace Posing inside a golden sculpture made of Arabic words; Qasr Al Watan Palace Night view of Qasr Al Watan Presidential Palace Emirates Palace entrance gate The Founder's Memorial; Abu Dhabi View of our truck from our tent; bush camp near Al Dhafra Port Waiting for cook group to prepare dinner; beach campsite near Al Dhafra Port Balloon decorations for UAE's 50th National Day; Al Dafra Mall Robby in front of a "customer happiness center" at a Lulu hypermarket; Al Dafra Mall Becky showcasing her arm sleeves (a vital article of clothing to dress modestly for mosques) The road leading to Liwa Oasis Robby with some friendly locals; Moreeb Dune Sunset over Moreeb sand dune Dhafeer Fort Locals heading to the mosque for midday prayer Watch tower of Qutuf Fort Robby climbing up a ladder at Qutuf Fort Nimail Fort Digging the truck out of soft sand Russ and Robby helping Will with the shower tent View of our drive towards Al Ain Truck life Empty Quarter desert With a road like this, we had to use sand mats to get the truck unstuck from soft sand Baby camels at the Al Ain camel market Camel market in Al Ain Damascus goat; Al Ain cattle market Al Ain cattle market Pottery in the courtyard of Al Jahili Fort Tiered tower of Al Jahili Fort Another view of Al Jahili Fort Falconry tiles; Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum Robby in a massive pot; Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum Sabina and Becky at Sheikh Zayed Palace Painting at Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum A fantastic breakfast spread at the Mercure Grand Jebel Hafeet Hotel Robby playing minigolf at the Mercure Grand Jebel Hafeet Sunset over Jebel Hafeet The curvy road leading down from Jebel Hafeet video lightboxby VisualLightBox.com v6.1

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