Crossing the desert to the east coast

Published: July 13th 2012
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Recently we had a trip driving across the UAE desert to the East Coast, to the Fujairah region of Al Aqah. I always find it extremely interesting to see life outside of the metropolis of Dubai and to see the lay of the land and lifestyle in the more isolated regions of the inner desert across to the east coast.

The contrast is extreme. Leaving the manicured palm lined streets of Downtown Dubai, past the sparkling glass towers lining Sheikh Zayed road, the desert routes lead you in to a very different landscape. Although the roads continue to be excellent dual highways, lined with streets lights all the way across the country, the views change to a different pace.

Skyscrapers are replaced by sand dunes and low scrub, dotted with Ghaf trees. Small townships are scattered along the route, often consisting of shanty style structures and buildings in various states of construction or dilapidation.

Men are seen wandering the sides of roads, hitching rides or doing the long hot walk between their accommodation and the nearest mosque.Small mosques are seen in each town as well as in isolated areas through the rocky desert landscape.

Crossing the UAE in this top part of the country, there are less sand dunes and more of a rocky lunar landscape. Low mountain ranges seem to consist of a loose gravel surface, there is very little vegetation. A lot of quarrying for the whole country is done in this area, and processions of heavy trucks can be seen carting the stone.

The drive through the rocky Hajar mountain range is spectacular, with wide open roads carving their way through cuttings in the rock. Old crumbling fort posts can be seen on many of the hills. We took the route towards Dhaid, then on to Masafi, then to Dibba before heading on to the coast road where the desert meets the sea. The photos will tell more of the story....

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