'Best weekend of the year': UAE residents join the fun at Khaleej Times Desert Drive

Hundreds of experienced veterans and first timers alike manoeuvred their reliable SUVs across undulating sand dunes and treacherous terrains

By Husna Murad

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Matthias Zeigler with his son. — Supplied photos
Matthias Zeigler with his son. — Supplied photos

Published: Sun 10 Dec 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 11 Dec 2023, 7:47 AM

Hundreds of excited desert enthusiasts rolled out their 4x4s and set out for the beautiful desert of Ras Al Khaimah to join the Jetour presents Desert Drive 2023 on Saturday.

With skills earned through hours of practice, experienced veterans and first timers alike manoeuvred their reliable SUVs across undulating sand dunes and treacherous terrains.

"For me, it's the best weekend of the year,” said Fabienne, who was joined by Micheal. The duo have residing in the UAE for the past 20 years they are no strangers to venturing into vast open deserts. They joined the drive for the 4th time this year. According to them, the pleasant weather and great food made for an amazing day.

"A lot of desert drive organisers make the mistake to make the trip too complicated and it can get hectic. But [this one] keeps us coming back every year," said Micheal.

Fabienne and Micheal.
Fabienne and Micheal.

With beautifully structured rest cabins and a property that perfectly balances between the wild desert and the tamed laid path, the participants got the best of both worlds.

‘Don’t go alone’

"We wanted to experience something different from life in Dubai. The drive being in a convoy with a massive group made it a lot of fun", said Eimear and Declan, first timers at the Jetour presents Desert Drive 2023.

Eimear and Declan.
Eimear and Declan.

Going into the desert alone is the biggest mistake that people often make, according to deputy marshal Paul.

"It's a great opportunity to see the desert and the wildlife but the course does increases in difficulty as you progress in the check points. We advise the drivers to take their time on the track and enjoy the experience," he said.

The desert can be a deceptive terrain with enormous dips and curves hidden behind the dunes you're driving on. The thrill that comes with adventures unknown is made even sweeter by knowing that if you need them, a large team of experienced marshals are always around to offer support.

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Thankful to marshals

"We actually lost our number plate in the dunes when we got stuck a couple of times," said Saad Hamdan, as he laughed about his misfortune. "But the marshals were right there to help us out of the sand and guided us back onto the track. They made us feel safe out there."

For repeaters, this is the event they looked forward to the entire year. Participants were full of admiration of the track layout and the entertainment set up at the event site.

"We did the desert drive in 2021 and it was great so we thought to make a weekend out of it this year as well. It's a pretty relaxed drive with how organised the track is," said Jason and Keira.

Favourite bonding

Matthias Zeigler recently migrated to the UAE from Germany and taking their car out to camp in the desert is his favourite bonding time with his son.

"Our goal was to have a wonderful day in the desert and with the guided track in a convoy it was possible," said Matthias.

This year's annual Jetour presents Desert Drive 2023 was held in the RAK desert. The convoy took off from the The Dunes Safari and Camping bright and early, with participants eager for a day full of adventure.

After the drivers completed the circuit, they were treated to a filling dinner, entertained by fire show and dance performances.


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