What are your plans for the long weekend?

Whether you’re glamping, camping, pitching a tent on a beach, or just cozying up in a sleeping bag under the amazing night skies, be sure to follow the old adage: take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints!

by

Rasha Abu Baker

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Published: Sun 27 Nov 2022, 10:10 PM

Life in the Emirates really is like no other experience, but I don’t mean the glitz and glamour of those unreal ‘reality’ TV shows. We hear so much about the excesses - the biggest this, the most expensive that, the billionaire lifestyle - it’s easy to forget that living in the UAE, we are blessed with a lot of hidden natural beauty.

Of course, as an Emirati, I have the advantage of being on my own home turf, but recently I was rather surprised by the realisation that I still meet people who haven’t yet visited all 7 emirates, despite having lived here for some considerable time, which got me thinking about when the last time was that I visited another emirate without it being for work …


Years.

Like many other residents, I think I am guilty of not appreciating the less ostentatious and ‘bling’ side of this country – so this year, especially seeing how expensive overseas flights are, I think it may be time to look a little closer to home for a mini-break over National Day celebrations and explore the road less traveled.


Here’s my list of places to visit: the age-old falaj irrigation system in Al Ain, the stunning Hajar Mountains, snorkeling at Fujairah’s Snoopy Rock, ride a motorbike up Tal Moreeb at Liwa, thought to be the world's tallest sand dune at over 300 metres high, go birdwatching at the Al Zorah Nature Reserve in Ajman with an abundance of birds and marine life in an eco-haven, try hiking at Hatta Dam in Dubai’s exclave in Sharjah, visit the abandoned pearling village of Al Jazirat Al Hamra in Ras al-Khaimah which hasn’t changed since its inhabitants left in 1968, take a trip to Abu Dhabi’s amazing 110km² of mangrove forest, see Sharjah’s Fossil Rock and Mleiha archeological site, ascend Umm Al Qawain’s 200-year-old fortress, and marvel at the incredibly appropriately-named Empty Quarter, the largest continuous sand desert in the world.

None of these will break the bank, beyond filling the car with gas, checking the oil and tyre pressure, and making sure that anyone with you who suffers from travel sickness is dosed with an appropriate motion sickness medication, so why not give the home help a couple of days off, plan the outlines of an itinerary, pack a bag or three, pack the kids (all of them, no-one home alone), and get up and go?

There are is usual advisory of making sure you take loads of water, your mobile phone and charger, enough food for al fresco dining and snacks, more water, insect repellent, a huge amount of SPF 50 moisturizing sun cream, and leave details of your trip with a friend or neighbor.

My bucket list almost certainly won’t be the same as yours, but a short scroll through the internet will give you an idea or two to think about, and remember: whether you’re glamping, camping, pitching a tent on a beach, or just cozying up in a sleeping bag under the amazing night skies, be sure to follow the old adage: take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints!

Of course, there are plenty of hotels of all shapes, sizes and star ratings to suit all tastes, but for me there’s nothing quite like the spontaneity of just deciding to go on an adventure and making it happen.

And even if you can’t face the prospect of such adventures, there is an alternative, and this one may come as a surprise – as the weather is so nice, shut down the laptop, switch off the TV, put on some comfy shoes and go for a long walk around your neighborhood – wander down streets you’ve only driven down before – explore the interesting little shops, grab a coffee at a café that isn’t an international franchise – find out where everything is – stop ordering from the corner shop, go and get things yourself – engage with your surroundings, and most of all, have fun.

Life in the Emirates is what you make of it!


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