Five tips off-roaders should keep in mind before heading out

The Khaleej Times Desert Drive will flag-off in Ras Al Khaimah on November 19


Michael Gomes

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Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Published: Tue 16 Nov 2021, 6:50 PM

Driving in the UAE desert can be challenging. However, if you follow the rules and respect those mighty dunes, you can end up making memories that will last for a long time to come.

With the Khaleej Times Desert Drive almost here, it’s time to brush up on your sand-driving skills. Sand is trickier than gravel or rocky terrain, purely because traction is at a premium.

Below are the five things every off-roader must keep in mind while driving in the vast Arabian Desert.

>> Traction, traction, traction: Getting adequate traction in soft sand is difficult, therefore having the right tyres, as well as the right air pressure is the key. A good off-road tyre certainly helps, but deflating the tyre increases the contact patch between your vehicle and the surface, thus enhancing traction. While 15psi is low for the road, in the desert that’s what will give you the ability to make steady progress. Check your tyre and vehicle specs for the right pressure.

>> Slow and steady: Forward progress in the desert depends on continuous momentum — albeit at a steady pace. Accelerate too hard and the wheels will spin and bury into the sand. Too slow and you might not be able to reach the crest of the dunes. The key is steady momentum. And using the right gearing is extremely vital.

>> Don’t fight gravity: If you feel that your vehicle won’t be able to make it up a dune, ease off the throttle and let gravity gently bring your vehicle back to ground level. If you accelerate hard in an attempt to make it up to the top of the dune, the tyres may sink in the sand. Even worse, if your vehicle is at an angle, it might roll over. In essence, maintain a steady pace and remember it’s not a race - it is just a fun day out with your loved ones.

>> Don’t go it alone: The desert can be a perilous place if you’re alone. Therefore it’s always advisable to head out with other people in case your vehicle breaks down, or you need assistance. Luckily, at KT Desert Drive there is a full back-up team to assist participants, with adequate mitigation when it comes to safety. Always stick with the convoy and have consideration for the safety of other participants at all times.

>> The right kit: While KT Desert Drive ensures almost all your requirements are met, it is good to have a checklist of a few basic items you might require for your day out in the dunes. Invest in an air compressor to inflate your tyres to the right pressure, when heading back on the road. Ensure that your cell phone is fully charged and there is enough water to keep you and the occupants of the vehicle hydrated. A flag pole is a must too, as it increases the visibility of your vehicle over the dunes. A tow rope is also worth carrying. Invest in a good quality one – if a tow rope snaps, it can be potentially dangerous. Also get a sand-mat, in case you need traction for a beached tyre.

A drive in the Arabian desert can be a memorable experience, provided you follow basic safety protocols.

The Khaleej Times Desert Drive 2021 is powered by Yokohama Tyres distributed by Juma Al Majid Est. - Tyres & Batteries Division since 1958.

With more than six decades of successful partnership, Yokohama is one of the leading tyre brands in the UAE today. The extensive range of world-class brand, Yokohama, covers passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles. Yokohama Tyres are sold through a strong network of JAM’s Exclusive Yokohama Service Centers, independent Dealers, Vehicle distributors and end users . Supported by a customer-centric philosophy, Juma Al Majid Est, is committed to excellence in quality and the highest levels of customer satisfaction.

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