Tuesday, February 15, 2011

mmmmmm (Omani) Doughnut

At the weekend, the Sand Warlock and I hopped in the back of a 4X4 with some kindly Finnish people who go off road driving a lot and know the area rather well.

We drove up through to the Emirate of Fujairah to a bit of land called the Omani Doughnut.  I am not sure whether the Doughnutians prefer the traditional spelling or they've opted for the Americanisation of Donutians.  The gist of the reason for this bit of the Emirates inside a bit of Oman inside the Emirates (yes, that is correct) is referendums of people voting to be part of one or the other country, I am told.

So off we jolly well went in a really rather vast vehicle for a bit of a Wadi drive and a look at a desert oasis and some very mountainous mountains (see mountains above).

Wadis, for the uninitiated, are dry riverbeds that are only filled with water when there has been heavy rain.  Therefore if you're going to attempt to drive up one it is somewhat important to check the weather forecast because if there's a flash flood, you are in la grande merde.  Luckily it was a dry day, as is let's face it, it usually the case in this part of the world, so we were fine.

There must have been rain at some point for this somewhat bloody-minded plant to give growing a go in the dry sand and stones.

Dubai is of course marvellous and the greatest city on earth but it's pleasant to get out for the day and see the countryside.  At the risk of stating the bleedin' obvious, "countryside" here is as far removed from what we're used to as possible.  None of that rolling green hill or flat, wheat-covered land malarkey, oh no.  There's sand.  Then there's a bit more sand until you fall into the sea.  Then if you go the other way there's some more sand.   Then there's arid porous rock and sand with a few palm trees springing up where there's a water source surrounded by sand.  It's fascinating for a new arrival to see but I imagine the charm of staring out over miles of sand dunes wears off after a while. 

Then there's the roads through Fujairah which are cracked to buggery from the summer heat.  It occurred to the Sand Warlock and I that should we attempt a similar journey during the summer rather than adhering to the national pastime of staying inside with the a DVD box set, we're going to need to pack some sort of sun shelter and several gallons of water.  Because, if you break down, you are then without your car's lovely helpful air conditioning system and hanging around waiting for help to arrive for an hour or two in 40-50 degree heat could be deeply unfortunate.

Members of the intrepid party were somewhat keen to move out to Fujairah, particularly as house prices out there are probably an eighth of what they are in Dubai.  The Sand Warlock and I concluded that if you were going to do such a thing, you would want a back up electricity system, then back up to your back up for the A/C.  Then a desalinator of your very own and a backup desalinator followed by a solar-powered backup backup desalinator just in case it all went a bit wrong with the water supply.   That level of backup A/C and water supplies would probably soon eat into the savings you had made on your house price. 

Here's Emirati/Oman border marker in the mountains which someone has (reassuringly) been using for target practice.

Some palm trees at the desert oasis.  The friendly looking Emirati/Omani (not sure which part of the Doughnut I was in at this point) was really keen to get in the picture.  I suspect he was Omani because Emiratis have been known to shout and break your camera if you photograph them without consent whereas this guy deliberately stopped and posed.

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