In Search of the Desert

24 Sep

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From the moment you leave the airport buildings in Abu Dhabi you can’t fail to be aware that this is a capital city built on the desert. I know I keep mentioning this fact but it really is quite remarkable. Ever since I arrived I’ve wanted to see the desert beyond the city. Last weekend I persuaded Neil we should go and have a look. It turns out you have to try quite hard to find it.

There is an area known as The Empty Quarter which is the obvious place but you really shouldn’t head out there lightly. In an ordinary saloon car and not really having a clue where to go we were sensible enough not to try.

The second largest city in the Emirate is Al Ain, a couple of hours drive away. We figured there must be some desert between the two. As you head out on the multi-lane highway, it initially takes some time to get out of the ever-expanding suburbs. After that the area alongside the highway has been put to use for agriculture and, believe it or not, forestation. As we got closer and closer to Al Ain glimpses of dunes of a reddish sand could be seen occasionally but it was hardly spectacular.

The only way we were going to get close was to get off the highway. Eventually we came across the trucker’s road. It is rare to see a lorry in Abu Dhabi. Now we know why – they have their own purpose built road. This was a simple two-way traffic, single lane affair without the frippery of palm trees or even barriers. And there was the desert. Plus miles and miles of electrity pilons.

So not exactly the experience we were looking for but worth a photograph or two. I’m going to have to do a bit more research on the whole desert thing.

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