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.

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