13. Overlanding vs Uber chopper
Our first night in Saudi Arabia. We are already driving for 8 hours and hope to find a nice wild camp spot somewhere along the way. In the morning we crossed the Emirates – Saudi boarder. A huge area with enormous lanes and offices to host many people. Is this huge area a preparation for Saudi’s 2030 vision, in which they aim to become a tourist-heaven? We’re not sure, but at the moment we’re the only one there. The Customs’ manager assistant is appointed as our chaperone, and guides us through the process. At the passport check, there is a friendly man who seems to be very proud on all the tooling he has; a copy machine, a fingerprint scanner and a camera. With lot’s of concentration and love, he first cleans the tools with the wipes he carries with him and then invites us for the check. We are ‘documented’ and welcomed to Saudi.
With the start of our Saudi adventure, we close our Oman and Emirates travel. Especially Oman was a welcoming relaxing month, a very easy to travel country with lovely locals. Our final week in Oman we spend desert driving with 2 new German friends: Claudia and Simon. When we met them we immediately felt a good connection, camped for 2 nights together and then decided to cross the Rub’ al Khali desert with our cars, which became another highlight of our travel. We prepped the route by putting some GPS coordinates in our devices and then hit the dunes. The week had it all: dune driving, sand storms, beautiful easy desert mornings with yoga, even more sand storms, running away for desert- snakes, Max’ bday with a campfire, music, lots of meat and even more drinks, a proper hangover day (where we drove max 30 KM and then set up camp again), again sand storms and a wild camp lunch where a group of 12 camels joined us and we could even cuddle with them. Oman is definitely a country to come back to; it honestly feels as a hidden gem in the Arabian peninsula.
The Emirates was more like a must-go- stop for us to arrange a Sudan visa and to do some car maintenance. We started in Dubai at a nice beach camp among locals. It’s a basic low key camp spot, but with a good view on all the Dubai craziness with its lights, luxurious hotels, fireworks and even Uber choppers flying over constantly. An overland safe place between all the (in our eyes) overdone entertainment and money spending. By pure coincidence, 2 friends of us stayed in Dubai as well. We visited Annelouk and Patriek in their resort and Annemarie and Joep visited us for a bbq at our camping. It was very nice to see some familiar Dutch faces and to be able to hug close friends. We still enjoy the travel very much but at the same time we obviously miss our family & friends, so this ‘intermezzo’ was a pleasant surprise!
We finished the Emirates with a visit to the Louvre in Abi Dhabi- a dependance from the Paris’ museum. Because of the high entertainment level in the Emirates (Ferrari world, 4D movies, etcetera), we were quite skeptic upfront; is this some kind of fake-tourist-remake of the Paris version? But our skepticism disappeared quickly when we saw the magical architecture of the building and the enormous galleries which lead you through art from all over the world while teaching you the development of art trough the years. It’s absolutely worth visiting- we’ve spend there almost 6 hours.
And then Saudi! Curious for our adventures there? Click here