A Modern Desert Safari and Feast Atop Dubai’s Sands
By: Habeeb Salloum/Arab America Contributing Writer
A gentle breeze blew across the sands and soothed our bodies as our driver began to manoeuver our cruiser atop the red sand dunes of the Dubai desert. Behind us were a half dozen other cruisers, all on the same tour.
I was watching the cruiser behind us lose speed as it reached the top of the dune, when my daughter called out, “They’re stuck!” Sitting atop a peak of sand, the wheels of the Toyota were spinning in the air. In a few minutes, a number of the other cruisers stopped and as we watched, some of these other drivers pushed to free the vehicle.
“We should never have left our room in the Al Bustan Rotana – one of the attractive world Dubai Hotels. In it we lived in luxury; here we had returned to the plain life of the dessert but with the affluence of the 21st century.
After about 30 minutes driving up and down the dunes, the cruisers drew up one after another and stopped to discharge their passengers. The cool spring air was refreshing as some of us romped in the sand like children while others walked barefooted over the hot dunes to enjoy the feel of the fine-hot sand grains massaging their feet. However, the majority just stood and surveyed the endless barren waste.
From atop a huge dune I saw below us in a shallow valley was the tourist re-created Bedouin campground, waiting for the un-experienced travellers to the sands.
Down in the camp, we were greeted with Arabic cardamom coffee and dates, the traditional greeting of hospitality in the desert. As we enjoyed these offerings – tea for those who were not familiar with the age-old Arab hospitality – I looked around. Tents with rugs, cushions and low tables were set on the sand around a square. In the middle was a rug-covered section, edged by cushions, apparently where entertainment was to take place.
Hunger was beginning to engulf us before we were served our barbecued meal. The food was appetizing, wholesome and plenty, including all types of meats and their side dishes – a truly superb feast. Perhaps, it was our hunger or, more likely, the food served under the desert sky which made the meal so tasty.
We had barely finished our fine repast when a brunette beauty seemed to spring up from nowhere atop the central rug. With her long hair floating in the breeze, she swayed her hips to the captivating Arab music.
The desert atmosphere, the fine food and entertainment made it a fine desert evening to remember.