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Published: April 18th 2009
Leaving the confines of the constructed concrete jungle, irrigated parks and roadsides, fountains, traffic, high rises, malls, opulent 5 star international hotels, an island surrounded by the sea......you forget you are in the desert, until you reach the outskirts of the city.
Then, all of a sudden, there it is....behind concrete walls first, then giving way to rows of wire fences.....sand, scrub, desert. It begins as soon as the concrete & bitumen ends....just beyond the last rows of suburbia. Between Abu Dhabi and Dubai lies a major highway and desert all around. Beyond Abu Dhabi in any direction lies desert...
We drove from Abu Dhabi across the centre, through desert and mountains to reach the east coast and Fujairah, Dibba and the small towns along the coast, dotted with resorts, springing up out of the gravelly soil amongst the rundown small towns.
Again full of contrast, a 4 hour drive out of Abu Dhabi, passing through a miriad of tiny villages, through Sweihan, Al Hayer, Shwaib, Madam, Dhaid, Masafa, Dibba & Fujairah. Passing makeshift huts of the desert farms, workers piled into the back of utes or hitching rides out in the middle of nowhere, camels &
quarry trucks. After hours of dry sandy scrub you reach the gravelly, dry, rocky mountains, that soar up out of the flatness, then deliver you abruptly down on the Indian ocean coast, to a winding road of small villages and roadside market stalls. Towers of luxury resorts claim there positions beachfront, with more being constructed at a fast pace.
Beyond the resorts, the winding seaside road leads you into Oman. Passing through the border control outpost, you are lead into the"insurance office" in an old rundown shed, fitted out with relics from the 60's, tv providing entertainment to the staff who sit there for the longs hours, with dilapidated air conditioners rumbling in the background. Money paid, pasports stamped, forms filled in, we are off through the dry winding roads of Oman leading us back into the rocky mountains.
Spectacular dry rocky mountains accentuated in evening light, passing more rundown dwellings with colorful patterned doorways. Groups of men border the roads looking for rides, walking to their destinations or selling produce roadside. Mosques, outpost coffee shops and historic forts dot the desert mountainscapes.
Out of the mountains back into UAE through the border town of Biriyani
on the Oman side, fenced in the middle of town through to the UAE side of Al Ain. The road flattens to wide vistas of desert & sand-dunes, before the street lit highway leads you back into the metropolis of Abu Dhabi..... a good 7 hr drive from Dibba, but worth it...
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