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The Equestrian Issue

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Pathways to Activity


Ian provides his first Pathways article







Discover more and visit us online:

Issue 10/2011 October


No Risk no Fun In Print:

Managing Editor Daniel Birkhofer

Graphic & Design James Russell Sales & Marketing (advertisement enquiries) Tara Atkinson Tel: 04-4472701 Mobile: 055 9398915 Published by: Outdoor UAE FZE P.O. Box 215062 Dubai, U.A.E. Tel. 04-4502419 Distributor: Tawzea, Abu Dhabi Media Company P.O. Box 40401, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. Printed at: Galadari Printing & Publishing LLC P.O. Box 11243 Dubai, U.A.E. © 2011 Outdoor UAE FZE Issue 10/2011- October

It is also true, that most outdoor activities go hand in hand with the risk of injury or even death. Especially for this reason, the second term should always be the ultimate rule. You have to determine if it is worth taking a risk or not. The more adventurous you want to be, the more of an adrenaline rush you will get, but ultimately this means you will be taking more risks. You and only you should consider all aspects and then decide by yourself if you want to do something or not. Don’t let others push you too much, (a little push is sometimes needed, to overcome fears and succeed challenges). To learn or to get involved in new outdoor activities you need to trust someone to teach you about the risks and how to minimize them. Again, it is in your hands to determine if this person is trust worthy or not - keep in mind that you might put your life in the hands of this person!

Daniel Birkhofer

Founder and Editor in Chief

Kim Perks The information contained is for general use only. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this magazine has been obtained from reliable sources, however the publisher is not responsible for any errors. All information in this magazine is provided “as is”, with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information. In no event will the publisher, its related affiliates or anyone else be responsible for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information in this magazine. All contents are under copyrights and may not be reproduced in any kind without written permission. © 2011 Outdoor UAE FZE

This is especially important if you want to start or try activities, which involve a lot of equipment like; diving, climbing, kite surfing… you should research beforehand. Get some information online, in books or ask friends to know and learn about the important aspects of safety. If you are not sure or can’t find help, feel free to contact OutdoorUAE for assistance. But even with the best equipment and the best training, accidents will always happen… but this should not scare you off trying new things or go outdoors, just make sure you go prepared. If you know your equipment, how to use it and how to keep it in good condition you will keep the risks to a minimum. Remember to keep in mind sometimes its bad luck when bad things happen, so don’t let this reason put you off. Safety and the safety of your friends and people around you is your responsibility – so check on it again, again and again! So be prepared and go outdoors, Daniel.

James Russell

Graphics and Photography

Laura Snook

Copywriter and Editor

Business Development and Editor

Marilena Cilta

Tara Atkinson

Management and Administration

Best SHots

Editors Kim Perks Laura Snook Marilena Cilta

Both these terms you will commonly hear or experience in relation to outdoor activities. These terms however, are somehow true in applying to everything you do in life and this counts for your own safety and the safety of others.

Safety First

Sales and Marketing

Our Regular Experts and Contributors

Tori Leckie

Ian Ganderton

Kit Belen

Pete Aldwinckle

Mike Nott

John Basson

Writer, runner, blogger, adventurer and adidas athlete

Our Fishing Pro

Kayaker, climber, mountainbiker and snowboarder. Enthusiastic jack of all trades, master of none.

Climber and all-round adventure seeker

Reg. at Creative City Fujairah P.O. Box 4422, Fujairah, U.A.E.

The 4x4 expert

Moto/ATV and all round adventure seeker





Laura uncovers the beauty of Al Maha

Best Shots


Events Calendar


Events Reviews and Reports 08 Ripe Market September Showdown ADIHEX 2011 WIld Water Race ADHQ Speed Climb 3 Race to Recycle

Travel & Adventure



Cecile Leah Zoe

Spots & Locations


Laura’s Location - Al Maha Jebel Shams


Pathways to Activity: Sea Kayaking A Day in the Life of a Climbing Rope


Final Thought


Are climbing wall safe? Pete Aldwinckle


Listings, Equestrian




Our Experts




Tips n Tricks

Summit Everest Counting Gazelles Slow Lane to Nowhere Diving with Sharks Lebanon Climbing Petra Marathon

Adventure Chicks with Tori Leckie ME4x4 with Mike Nott Karting: Calling all Kids! Share something special with a horse The Fishing Kit with Kit Belen





Best Shots Best SHots


Arbol Y Mar

By Federico Steffanino Musandam

Climber Javier Route By Gordon & Lize

Angela Barlow Qudra Land Gallery Halem 2


Events Calendar [Mot

DMX Round 1


Umm Al Quwaim Motorplex, 7th of October


Season 2011/ 2012 1st Round of the motor cross series in Umm Al Quwaim For more information visit the facebook page of DMX group.

[Kar t]

Motorcity 12h Endurance Challenge Dubai Autodrome, 7th of October

The Kartdrome 24 Hours Endurance Challenge, run since 2004, is a mainstay of the UAE motorsport calendar. The event has been dubbed as “extreme racing” – as tough as it gets and requires stamina, concentration, speed, consistency and probably most importantly team work – all this under the duress of hard fought competition over a 12 hour period. For more information visit:


Dubai Traditional Dhow Sailing Race 22ft


Dubai International Marine Club, 8th of October For more information visit:


Polo Event Race


Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, on 14th October

You are invited to experience some of the best polo being played in the region. Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club features a series of 10 renowned polo tournaments this upcoming season. Return to the way the game of polo is meant to be enjoyed, where polo players and fans of all ages can gather together in a world-class venue for the love of the sport and the lifestyle.


Skins Super Run Series

Dubai, 15th of October at Jumeirah Beach Hotel

Run series of races are open to all juniors and adults, novices and professionals. For more information visit:


Zayed Sport City 10k Race 1

Abu Dhabi, Zayed Sports City, 21st of October

A unique 10km run that takes in the sports facilities of Zayed Sports City including running in and around the hallow turf of Zayed Sports Stadium. For more information visit:



Zighy Marina & Art Marine Boat and Kayak Fishing Tournament


Venue: Zighy Bay Marina Start Time: Lines in the water from 7:00am -4.00pm on the Friday, 21 October 2011


An Entry forms must be completed before the start of fishing in order to claim any prizes, all boats must be at the marina before 4.00pm for the fish to be eligible to be weighed. If you are interested in entering the competition and to receive an entry form get in touch with: T: +971 4 3243061 M: +971 50 5501067 To download the form or find out more about the event log onto:

Best SHots

[Boa t]

Abu Dhabi Dragon Boat Festival

Abu Dhabi, Shangri-La Hotel, 28th/29th of October

The dragons are returning to Abu Dhabi!! The Abu Dhabi Dragon Boat Festival will be held October 28th and 29th, 2011.  Competitive, Corporate, School teams, etc. are welcome to join in this fabulous 2 day event! Visit the OutdoorUAE tent and grab your free copy of the magazine. For more information visit:


Me et us!

ABRaAC Mina 10k Series, Race 1 Dubai, Mina Seyahi Hotel & Resort 28th of October A 10km race that is also part of three races in the 10k series. For more information visit:



Wadi Adventure Multi Sport Race Series


Al Ain, Wadi Adventure Jebel Hafeet, 28th of October starting from 8:00AM Competition consisting of a 400m swim, 2.5km run, then followed by another 400m swim and 2.5km run. The swim will be held at the new Wadi Adventure facility in Al Ain. The runs will take place at the base of Jebel Hafeet. The race is open to individuals & teams of all standards. For more information contact: +9710508178955


Spinneys Build Up Race 3 of 4


Dubai, Dubai Autodrome, 28th of October, 06:00AM

In addition to Spinneys 92 Cycle Challenge, the organizers have decided to have a number of build up rides, which will give cyclists a chance to put in some great training and gauge their progress ahead of the event. For more information visit:


Pink Polo


Ghantoot Polo & Racing Club, 29th of October

Pink Polo is an event dedicated to raise breast cancer awareness in the UAE. Join a fun day out at Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club with free activities for all. Enjoy pony rides, falcon shows, photo sessions with polo players, or just relax in our reserved picnic areas. Visit the “The Pink Majilis” and meet medical experts, learn self-examination techniques and undergo free screenings at the mobile mammography unit. Don’t forget to dress in pink and win prizes for the best pink outfit!



This month saw the UAE’s first

Food Market from Ripe – a fab company committed to sourcing the best of UAE’s fresh produce and bringing it directly to food lovers in the city.

Taking place at Dubai Garden Centre on Sheikh Zayed Road, the first market took place on Saturday the 17th September and was packed full for the duration with big kids and little kids desperate to taste and try the delicious produce on offer. Going forward, the market will be held every Saturday from 9.30am to 1pm. Ripe sells boxes of local, seasonal and organic fresh produce hand-picked from UAE farms within 48 hours of market day. Also on offer were a host of other delicious foods from oils and chutneys to jams, dips and breads. Wheatgrass shots went down a treat too in addition to the ever-popular RAW Coffee for that all important caffeine fix!




It’s official! Yes the new season

for off roading had now begun and ME4x4 held their 9th annual season starter, September Shakedown, just over the border in the dunes next to Wadi Shuwamiya.

Although a fairly accessible site via tracks, some of the more adventurous members did take a slightly more challenging route to the campsite. Marshals of ME4x4 lead some 32 vehicles over the varied terrain on a Friday afternoon, and camped overnight in very pleasant conditions, with a BBQ and refreshments provided for all to enjoy. Some members did not camp, and returned home, following the tracks back to the entrance of Wadi Shuwamiya, whilst the majority pitched tents and enjoyed a great social evening, welcoming several new members. ME4x4 has a membership of over 500, and organizes drives around Dubai most Fridays and frequently on Saturdays. Some of the more experienced members organize overnight trips to Liwa and occasionally to Oman


Expats from the UK especially are no strangers to these markets and judging by the sheer number of people coming and going, Ripe’s market is a welcome addition to the foodie scene here in Dubai. Check it out sometime and enjoy! Food like this is good for the soul and will fuel outdoor lovers in their adventure endeavours no end! It’s also just one more great reason to visit Dubai Garden Centre; further cementing its position as a great place to whittle away a few hours at the weekend!

Visit for further details. Words: Tori

particularly during the Eid breaks when 4-5 day trips are not uncommon. The longer trips are not for the faint hearted, as self-sufficiency in fuel and food whilst in the desert for a few days can be logistically challenging. Fortunately the club has some very experienced members who can advise and help with the planning of such excursions and make them very enjoyable. (Mike Nott the OutdoorUAE Off-Road Expert is one of them) Anyone wishing more information about ME4x4 can log on to their website www. and join the club. Please not some areas of the website are accessible only to fully paid up members of the club. Membership is AED50 per year. Gordon Smith.


ADIHEX 2011 Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2011 Last month between the 14th and 17th of September, Abu Dhabi’s Exhibition Centre was the host of the 9th edition of the ADIHEX exhibition, held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region, and Chairman of the Emirates Falconers’ Club. With over a 596 exhibiting companies from 28 countries and a total of 97,812 visitors, ADIHEX showcased an important part of the history of the Arabian Peninsula, as well as looking at its present day activities. Abu Dhabi’s Authority for Culture and Heritage, one of the key exhibitors of ADIHEX shared important aspects of the UAE’s traditions and cultural experiences. Being an organization with ambitious aspirations they aim to harness the pride of the people of the UAE through development of its cultural heritage. ADACH has brought its major contribution during the exhibition by helping to strengthen the intercultural dialogue and appreciation of different cultures. “The International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition is a rare regional and global opportunity to promote sustainable hunting through encouraging thousands of visitors to the exhibition - of local falconers or those who come from the Gulf Region and from

around the world - to use hybrid falcons that were breed in captivity, rather than the endangered wild ones, which were often hunting in their area of breeding.” HE Mohammad Khalaf Al Mazrouei, General Director of ADACH. The OutdooUAE team joined the ADIHEX Exhibition to engage visitors in order to promote and raise awareness of all the different types of outdoor events and activities that are happening in and around the UAE. We invited customers to come into our stand to talk about the Outdoors, catch up on the latest magazine issue and tell us what type of Outdoor Person they are. We then sent them on with all the information they needed to start their own adventure. During the exhibition, Outdoor UAE also ran a raffle competition, which was sponsored by Adventure HQ and The Garden Centre (soon opening a new store in Abu Dhabi) for all those who were keen to take our survey. Here are the winners of a 250AED Adventure HQ card and free 6 months subscriptions to OutdoorUAE magazine:

Mia McColgan Fouad Kayrouz Mohammed Alketbi Dan Carpenter Martin Tillman Daisy Gardener

Wadi Adventure Multi Sport Series Race 1 Aquathon On Friday the 23rd of September the first ever Wadi Adventure Race took place in Al Ain. The event was hosted at the long awaited Wild Water Park in Al Ain… yes, a wild water park. The running event was the first event at the park, which has seen it’s doors open up to small events such as the Aquathon, and has offered participants and spectators a preview of attractions in an exotic surrounding. The official opening of the park will not happen until later in the year, but keep your eyes peeled, as Outdoor UAE will be there! The Race

The participants had to swim the first 400m on one of the artificial lakes, then run 2.5km through the green park areas, followed by a second swim of 400m and a final run of 2.5 km to cross the finish line. The race could be taken on either as and individual or as a group.


The race was a great success and on it has been ranked at the top with 92%. “The race was organised to a professional standard. Excellent set up with the lakes and routes for the run. There was plenty of aid stations and support staff. The location was fantastic. Nice freebies were given out big thank you to the organisers and volunteers, was a fun day! Look forward to the next one :-)” Gheis Ameri (Competitor) The next race will be on the 28th of October, for more information visit

The Park

The official opening of the water park is expected in December this year with a lot of promising attractions like real wild water kayaking and wild water rafting in 3 rivers and levels up to class 4. There will also be a huge surf pool with up to 3m and much more... So far, you can only follow them on face book – Wadi Adventure Al Ain but OutdoorUAE will keep you up to date.

Peter Mueller Zakir Hussain Dr. Rakhan Kelly Wilson Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all those who came down to support Outdoor UAE at ADIHEX! Look out for us at the Dragon Boat Festival on the 28th and 29th of October.


SPEED3 CLIMB On the 10th of September Adventure HQ held the 3rd speed climbing competition since its opening.

People from all ages got the chance to try a new activity, surrounded by a great atmosphere, and excitement of the competition; from children with no experience to climbing experts, all giving their best try to climb to the top. Before entering into the competition all participants received harnesses, helmets and a brief description of the safety rules. It was easy to see the eagerness, especially of the children who participated. They were all excited to see what they were made of, with a chance to break new records; this was sure to be one event they would never forget.

The under 12 years competition was won by Sam Hancock with a timing of 0:28 seconds; as for the Under 16’s Harry Snowde and Alex Novoselov tied with an equal time record of 0:14 seconds. Among the Men’s section during the speed climb the score initially tied but with a great effort from Milan he finally succeeded to beat the previous records with a timing of only 0:08 seconds. Besides the winning the competition, everyone was happy to set his or her own new personal records whist doing something fun and different on the weekend.


Dubai Traditional 22ft Sailing Dhow Race 23rd September 2011 Team Dahees won the Traditional 22ft Dhow Sailing Race by 30 seconds ahead of Al Sharid, closely followed by the Al Zeeb on Friday as the 2011/2-12 Watersports Season got underway. It was a fast and closely fought race organized by Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) in Mina Seyahi and Mohammed Abdullah Mohammed Al Marzouoqi skippering Dahees rounded the first mark in the lead and managed to stay in front to the finish. ‘We got a good position on the start line and found clean air which helped us a lot. We were looking forward to sailing again and we are really happy to win,’ said the skipper. Last season’s winners, Al Zeeb, favorites for today had problems at the start, but sailed a great race to come in third. ‘It was very frustrating on the start line,’ said Ebrahim Ismail Al Marzouqi, skipper of Al Zeeb. ‘We got caught in the ropes of the boat next to us and it really cost us time, but in the end we got a good result.’

Two late entries bought the total number of boats entering the race to fifty-seven and with winds gusting west-northwest up to fourteen knots with a fairly flat sea it turned out to be a quick race with the first boats finishing in less than 30 minutes. ‘The conditions were very good today, not too difficult and we kept the course quite short,’ said Saeed Hareb, CEO of DIMC. ‘It has given the sailors an easy start and it wasn’t too daunting for any newcomers to the sport.’ The 22ft sailing dhow can have a maximum of five and minimum of three crew on board whilst racing and skippers today had opted for a complete mix on the dhows. It meant those with less crew had to work harder hiking out to keep the boat flat for optimum speed. The next 22ft sailing dhow race will be held in Mina Seyahi on October 5th, more information about the races can be found at

parties on a monthly basis and Relax@12 the indoor/outdoor lounge where guests can find oriental bites, yummy tapas and a sassy sushi selection and enjoy the best views in town while dancing to the beats of resident & guest DJs every night.


Here you are!!

Aloft Abu Dhabi hotel offers atmospheric public spaces designed to draw guests from their hotel rooms to socialize and make acquaintances. Guests can read the paper, work on their laptops, play a game of pool, grab a drink with friends at the w xyz bar or enjoy a meal at Dine (the hotel’s main restaurant with live-cooked internationalstyle cuisine). Always a-buzz never a-dull happening places at Aloft Abu Dhabi are Maï Café, the ultimate chill-out spot on the fifth floor, offering exciting international flavors, where you can also find the renowned “Liquid by Mai Cafe” pool


October will be another happening month at Aloft Abu Dhabi with the re-launch of the Relax@12 terrace on October 6th. Aloft is offering 2 lucky people the opportunity to attend “Live in the Vineyard, Presented by Aloft Hotels”! As we like our friends to have benefits, Aloft Hotels is providing 2 round trip flight tickets to the “Live in the Vinyard” music festival held in SAN FRANCISCO, 3 day access to the “Live in the Vineyard” music festival and 4 nights accommodation in San Francisco! Relax@12’s monthly Amnesia night will also take place on October 14th. Pay only AED 140 for free flowing house beverages from 8pm until midnight and surround yourself with the best music from the amazing guest Diva DJ Natalie Brogan and resident master on the decks DJ Stew Magoo. And not to forget, after the manic success of the previous Liquid rain pool parties, “Liquid by Mai Cafe” and Aloft Abu Dhabi are gearing up for their biggest pool party yet - “Liquid by Mai Cafe - Halofteen Special”! Expect to rub

shoulders with Abu Dhabi’s finest. Get ready to join one of the most established parties in the capital on October 28th from 7:00pm – 03:00am. Ladies enter for free all day and gents pay AED 100 and get 2 drinks. The 9th of September witnessed more than 450 enthusiastic participants at the second annual “Aloft Runs for Children” charity run organized by Aloft Abu Dhabi at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center. The event was held in support of Starwood’s global fundraising “Road to Awareness” initiative for UNICEF’s Educational programs in Pakistan and Romania and raised AED 56,000.

Dubai is renowned worldwide for its rapid growth in recent years and it is this developmental boom that has firmly placed it on the map of mustvisit destinations. Natives, visitors and residents alike are attracted by the bright lights and bustling atmosphere of this great city, but there is one aspect of Dubai that has been so far overlooked: the emirate is one of the world’s largest producers of waste. An obvious culprit and perfect example is the volume of plastic bottles that are produced and consumed each year. Over 1.5 million tonnes of plastic are used to bottle water annually and unfortunately plastic bottle recycling simply has not kept the pace with the level of consumption. However good work is being carried out in order to change this and organisations are very active in trying to educate people about the benefits of recycling and how it can play a huge role in protecting the environment. Various events are held each year by organisations, which aim to boost the rate of recycling and raise awareness among people and businesses. ‘Whatever Floats Your Boat’ for example, which is now in its fourth year, is an established event that takes place each year on Dubai Creek and is jointly run by InterContinental Dubai Festival City, Festival Centre and Mourjan Marinas. It is a community-spirited event that is geared up around team-building activity and aims to educate people about recycling in a fun, yet impactful way. Schools and companies spend weeks building and perfecting a boat made of recycled materials, which on the day of the event they race along the creek in order to win fantastic prizes. Charities such as Emirates Wildlife Society (EWS) in association with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) are dedicated to preserving and protecting animals and the natural environment. All proceeds raised through the Whatever Floats Your Boat initiative are donated directly to these charities, which helps sustain the ongoing local projects dedicated to protecting the marine environment and saving the lives of Dubai’s native marine turtles. Tom Lord, acting general manager at InterContinental Hotels Group Dubai Festival City, said: “Dubai is a fantastic city with

“Being environmentally friendly is on everyone’s agenda today. There is strong scientific evidence to suggest that globally, icecaps are melting, sea levels are rising and that the ozone layer is rapidly depleting, so it has never been more important to act now. Whatever Floats Your Boat fits perfectly with our quest as a hotel group to be a green business and we run the event every year to remind people of the importance of adapting their lifestyles and ways of working, to drive the urgent need to be ‘more green’ and more mindful of the environment”.

Best SHots

Whatever Floats Your Boat takes to Dubai Creek for the fourth year


Race to Recycle

endless opportunities for both its people that live here and businesses that wish to flourish. Its growth has been impressive and is now one of the most soughtafter countries to live and work, however that is only going to be sustainable if people and businesses take responsibility right now and do their bit towards helping reduce its carbon footprint”.

Schools and businesses are encouraged to be as creative as possible when designing their boat. Previous years have seen whales, Cadillacs, even doubledecker bus boats take to the waters. Prizes are awarded for each category and are judged on various criteria, such as first boat to cross the finish line, ingenuity and types of recyclable materials used and there is even a prize for best crew costume. With carbon levels in the atmosphere rapidly increasing by the day, it is time to start aiming to place Dubai on the map for its efforts in reducing global warming. Businesses and schools that wish to take part in Whatever Floats Your Boat, on 25th November 2011 in the race to recycle should contact Alex Scott at InterContinental Dubai Festival City, on +971 4 701 1059 or email

Boat Building Tips & Tricks

Buoyancy is key to floating a boat. One litre of water weighs one kilogram, so your boat will need to displace more litres of water than the collective weight of the team plus the weight of the boat itself, in order to achieve positive buoyancy. If you have negative buoyancy, i.e. not enough floatation, your boat will sink. With neutral buoyancy, you and your boat will sit somewhere between sinking and floating.

To stay dry and potentially win the race you need positive buoyancy, so the more empty plastic bottles you collect the better. You will need at least 50% more than you need for neutral buoyancy – see equation below. Also think about how to make the raft stable so that it won’t flip over.

Neutral buoyancy example:

75kg (team) + 15kg (boat) = 90kg for neutral buoyancy = 90 litres – which is 45 x 2l soda bottles, or 4.7 x 19l jugs


Summit Everest

36 years after the first woman summits Everest, a


Palestinian becomes the first Arab Woman in history to climb Everest.

May 20th, 5 pm Camp 4 - South Col - 7920 meters It has been 50 days since I started my challenge of climbing Everest. Tonight was our summit push and I reached Camp 4 – South Col – a few hours ago. This was our last resting camp before we continued climbing the remaining 930 meters in the so called “Death Zone”, a term used to describe altitude above 7,500 meters. We were trying to hydrate our extremely exhausted bodies by forcing fluids down to help us in our climb higher up in few hours. We were breathing supplemental O2 to help us painfully survive the thin air. Our bodies are not meant to survive such altitude and if we stayed longer than needed, we would possibly deteriorate quickly to a point of no return. That was why timing, speed, weather and luck all played a role in how things would develop in the next few hours/days. In spite of breathing through the mask, the sound of the 70 kms/hr wind was getting louder and deafening us. The tent was flapping strongly above my head while I was in my sleeping bag trying to mentally and physically rest. This was it: I have done everything I could and endured the impossibly harsh conditions of Everest all the way to the South Col

and now fate will decide if I will continue the last 900 plus meters or not. I held hands with Erin, my climbing partner and we prayed while we waited for the winds to calm down. It was still blowing fiercely at 8 pm, the time we were supposed to start climbing again. We waited for two more hours before it calmed down enough that we decided to continue climbing up. Once out of the tent, I looked up again at the famous Everest Summit pyramid: Huge, Fierce, Impossibly Hostile… and although I have been climbing for 50 days higher and higher, getting closer and closer... this huge mountain still looked out of reach!  In the subzero temperatures we began the last push of the climb around 10 pm. One step at a time was all I asked my overly exhausted mind and body to do! While we were climbing, I sensed flashes of light to my left, I looked up and then below and figured out what it was: a thunder storm lightning in the clouds below me to the left! I climbed on and on until I noticed beautiful purple, red and blue colors in the sky horizon to my right, sun rise was coming soon. I reached the Balcony, even then I couldn’t possibly know if I was going to make it or not. On Everest, you can never be sure even if you are just few hours away, anything can go wrong in seconds! The summit ridge was everything I saw in all the published photos, ultimate care was crucial to staying alive as thousands of meters fall was waiting for me on both sides if I took the wrong step! I reached the South Summit, a pyramid of rock and ice at 8749 meters. This proved to be the real test for me on this day. After few attempts trying to find foot holds for the front of my crampons on the face more than half way up the south summit face, I was out of energy. I could not move and my mind was just in a dream like abyss.


I gasped for breath, with a mental note telling me this was not the end just yet and that I must continue at least to be safe on top of the south summit. I couldn’t give up now although my body did give up for those brief moments. Then, I have no idea up to now how I managed to climb up using friction and in few minutes I was on top of the south summit, out of breath and shaken. Somehow, sense came back to me and I thought I was only 200 vertical meters from the true summit, I couldn’t give up now. I remembered the flag in my backpack and I pushed on. I reached the famous last steep rock obstacle before the summit: The Hillary step and I knew then that nothing was going to stop me from reaching the true summit of Everest. Above the Hillary step, I looked to my right and saw all the peaks and vastness of Tibet. I looked to my left and saw all the giant peaks of Nepal being dwarfed by Everest and then I looked ahead and started seeing the prayer flags marking the summit of Everest just few meters ahead and I stood still. Tears came down my eyes behind my protective goggles. I took a deep breath and continued to the summit and reached it. I raised my hands and thanked God for guarding me and helping me achieve my dream and on Saturday 21st of May, at 8.45 am, a Palestinian became the First Arab Woman to reach the summit of Everest at 8850 meters! Cultural, physical and other barriers have been broken to make this dream come true and for millions of Arabs, especially women to celebrate this achievement. History has been made! I raised both my Palestinian flag and my Arab countries “Mosaic” flag and deeply felt this proud moment: I was standing on Top Of The World. Positive Winds of


Change are coming to our region from all directions including finally breaking the barriers to climb the highest & toughest mountain on Earth! I was an unbelievably proud Palestinian, unbelievably proud Arab, unbelievably proud woman and unbelievably proud Muslim.

On Everest The first man to ever reach the summit of Everest was Edmond Hillary on 29th of May 1953 where the first woman to reach the summit of Everest was Junko Tabei from Japan on 16th of May 1975. It took 36 years before an Arab woman attempted and succeeded in climbing Everest. On Suzanne Al Houby Initiatives that can be described as daring, innovative and even impossible in healthcare, life-sciences, setting up charities, sustainability , adventure & climbing have one thing in common : She was told that she couldn’t do it! She did and that is what Suzanne Al Houby is all about. Her favorite quote is “it is easy to be inspired, but it is not so easy to act” Suzanne Al Houby is the first Arab Woman to climb and summit Mont Blanc, Elbrus, Aconcagua, Vinson ( the highest mountains in Western Europe, Europe, South America, & Antarctica), in addition to Kilimanjaro and Toubkal the highest mountains in Africa and North Africa Respectively amongst many more. She visited more than 100 destinations worldwide, carried a backpack half her weight and camped in extreme conditions. Pay back is big to Suzanne’s values & code of ethics, to learn more please check

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On the move to explore

When Arabs ruled one of the largest stretches of land in the old world, they travelled and explored lands that were only known to their native inhabitants. Travelling was a way of life to many. It involved courage, a yearning to learn and a strong will to educate. As decades passed, those who crossed all these borders were known as Rahhalahs, a term that translates to English as those who are always on the move to explore. We at Rahhalah, have a solid commitment to revive the spirit of our old Rahhalahs and a promise to pursue their adventures and endeavours in a sustainable manner. We want to entice you to live your dream adventure. Come and join us explore the world and become a Rahhalah yourself.

Some of our adventures

• WILD Borneo; the last of the four remaining rain forests in the world. • Everest Base Camp Trek, one of the most breathtaking treks on Earth • Thrilling Nepal; hike, cycle, raft and explore • East African Dreams; comfortable and challenging Safari adventures that are not for the fainthearted in both Tanzania & Kenya • Climb Kilimanjaro, an achievable big challenge that takes you to the roof of Africa

Read more about WHO we are, WHERE we go, our SUSTAINABILITY and our “PAY BACK” promise on

Tel +9714 4472166



Gazelle Counting

John goes accross the desert by air

My career, from day one, had

been more of an adventure than a “job”. I have been to many interesting places, countries and seen and done some truly amazing things. After leaving the military about eight years ago, I was sure that my “adventure” would now become just an ordinary job…….

Well one of my greatest adventures as a helicopter pilot was here in the UAE. Five years ago I was doing a flight test for a student in South Africa. On completion of his test he asked me if I would be interested in a contract in the UAE. “What the hell are you going to do in the UAE??” was my first question. “We are going to do a game count in the Abu Dhabi Emirate. 6000 000 hectares with two Robinson R44’s!!” Without thinking I replied: “Yes”. The environmental agency in Abu Dhabi has many active programs to rehabilitate wildlife back into the UAE. They have several areas where large

numbers of gazelle are kept and also many feeding stations can be found scattered over the whole Emirate. These projects have been on-going for some time and a requirement to determine the actual amount of gazelle in the Emirate, increased. This requirement was on tender and “World-wide game trust.”, a small company specialising in the capture, transportation and counting of wildlife in South Africa, got the tender. The plan was to buy two new R44 helicopters and have them assembled here in the UAE. Then with an autonomous team comprising of two pilots, two logistical support guys, two IT specialists and a team co-ordinator, we would start from a point and for several months fly almost every day till we had covered the entire emirate. I will skip the first two months we spent waiting for the final paperwork to be signed by the military. As the majority of the area we were to count in was in military airspace we could not start until we had these documents. I will start the adventure the day we flew from Dubai to the 1st “Ranger station” from where the count started. It was close to the Abu Dhabi car museum. This was also the first time for me flying in temperatures reaching +50°c (we started flying in August!!!) as we were only two in the helicopters during most flights, they handled it well. The ranger stations weren’t exactly 5-star and most did not have sufficient sleeping arrangements for


our team. (According to the environmental agency there was plenty of bedding at all the stations...) After establishing our “ops room” we started to program the GPS’s and planned the next day’s missions. Each aircraft would fly blocks of about 10km wide and 20km long at a time. We planned to fly at 200 feet above the ground and initially between 40 & 60 knots, depending on the terrain. None of us had ever counted over a desert and we weren’t sure how long each block would take us. We planned for two blocks each just to see how things go. Then after a rather long day our first night was spent sleeping on the floor and without pillows or blankets. By sunrise both robbies were airborne and we headed off to our individual search areas. We would fly our blocks from east to west (10km) and every time we turned we would fly 500m parallel to our previous track. As there are no trees the search turned out be a lot easier than back home and we could also fly at a slightly higher speed. The two blocks each were completed by mid-day and we returned to the station. I was lucky as my aircraft’s air conditioner was working fine. The other crew however was visibly more exhausted than us. The second day we planned to do three blocks each. Two flights in the morning and one later in the afternoon, with a power nap in-between. As we’re operating away from any formal base or airport we took everything with us. We arranged with CYMA for a fuel tanker that was placed in a central area and then moved it every 2-3 weeks as we advanced our search. Greg, our young,

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With three missions every day and flying till you almost run out of fuel the aircraft rapidly accumulated hours. Blacky, a maintenance engineer from South Africa was on permanent standby to fly in for any breakdowns and also did the routine maintenance. As we were operating the whole day we did the maintenance at night and often using only the lights from our two vehicles. In summer it is incredible how long the machines stay hot. We would be on the ground by 19h30 and after dinner we would start to work. By 22h00 the engine would still be too hot to work on!! I recall one service where we needed to measure some limits “inside the engine”. We only started this by midnight as it was too uncomfortable to work on the engine. Later we bought some fans and put under the aircraft for about 30minute before we started working. Everything was a team effort with everyone putting in 100%. It was a fantastic experience for the youngsters who were very fortunate to have been part of this “operation”

sand and mountain gazelle. A lot was on private owned farms, but there were many sightings even in remote areas. During one flight in the “empty quarter” my “co-pilot” commented that there is 0% chance of seeing any live animals in this remote part. It was almost as if Murphy had heard him; about 30 second later we saw a mature gazelle ram proudly walking in the desert!!


and sudden appointed, “Logistics Manager” was initially overloaded with his “appointment” but soon became a true asset to the team. He was doing all the driving & arranging of the fuel drums through the desert to reduce our ferry time between flights. He would collect the fuel from the tanker (by filling into 200 litre drums.) and then drive to the area we were flying that day. Also responsible for just about every other need/ spare/water/tools and whatever we needed. Again well done and thank you Greg!!!

The effort from the environmental agency is surely paying off. With time these gazelle numbers will continue to increase and sightings of these beautiful animals would become more common. Remember that life is what you make of it. Even sleeping on a floor without pillow, working in 50°c, having very limited resources and in remote areas one can still make the best of any situation. To the whole team and especially Frans, thank you for contributing to this great chapter in my life!!! John Basson

Our team leader, Frans Wentzel, was responsible for reporting back to the owners and also ensured that there was a balance between work and relaxation. (Slightly more work than relax, but enough to keep us happy!!) We would work for about seven to ten days at a time, depending on the amount of flying, and then take two days R&R in Abu Dhabi. This routine we kept up for almost two months and truly enjoyed the “adventure”. We had covered just over 6 000 000 hectares, flown several hundred hours, gained phenomenal experience and made many new friends!! We counted just over 24 000 (yes twenty four thousand) gazelle, both



Slow Lane to Nowhere Cont.

by Patrice Wergifosse

By the time you will read this article, I hope to have reached Belgium. It is only one week away and I can nearly touch it. I write from Log, a small village in Slovenia. After packing my stuff and hitting the road, I reached Italy after 10 minutes and Austria 15 minutes later. I set the camp on a nice flat meadow just outside the village, surrounded by mountains, covered with pine trees, and raised 1000m above the village I watched the sunrise; once again is was gorgeous. It is not even cold at 6.30am the temperature is already a good 10 degrees :-) I woke up once with it being 2-5 degrees. It was in Turkey at an altitude of 2400m and I was blessed with one of the best sunrise’s I ever saw. Around 60 degrees the horizon looked as if it was on fire and I had a clear view up to 50-60km. Even there I was not alone, I shared a welcome coffee with a goat herder. His dog had a necklace with 10 cm spikes to protect his throat when fighting against the wolves to defend the herd - pretty impressive... What else to tell you? So many things have happened in the last month that I don’t know where to begin. It is not yet time for statistics, but I can share few figures. I crossed already 11 countries: Iran, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Turkey, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia, and I saw 3 more: Armenia, Syria and Greece. I reached 11000 km yesterday and a total climb of 120000m (with the Alps to cross still). I am really impressed with the car as I didn’t have major problems. I did however have to clean the carburetors and replace


both fuel pumps in Erbil due to the bad quality of petrol in Kurdistan. I now have now ignition and distribution problems and at low revs I have big explosions in the exhaust that are not really welcome when I cross villages and border posts... I stopped in a few garages in Croatia but they couldn’t help me. I don’t think it will prevent me reaching Belgium but anyway I will try my luck! Curiously I never consumed such little fuel, I am down to 23l for 100km :-) on the downside I will need serious maintenance in Belgium as I have to refill the transfer box with 2L oil every 5 days. I wish I could have done that in Iran as it was 10 times cheaper…If I don’t do it soon I may never reach Iran again. I want to put out a special word for the hospitality and generosity of Iranian and Kurdish people. Hard to believe, but these guys are leagues above Omani hospitality! I am ashamed to say that so far I have lived on the generosity of people. I have had countless breakfasts and lunches with goat herders and farmers, I have even had to turn down many invitations for a roof and one time I was given so much food (fish, fruits...) that I had to redistribute it. I have come to realize the less people have, the more generous they are - that really teaches you a lesson.

I am happy to see that I can still get goose bumps from a landscape after seeing so much. I was afraid that reaching Europe this would mean highways and traffic, but I managed to avoid all that and the back roads of Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia were amazing also – a biker’s paradise again with no more than 500m sections of flat and straight roads. I was less impressed by Bulgaria and Macedonia but probably because it was my only rainy day out of a total of 55 in addition to this I also crossed Macedonia at night. In Kosovo, I wanted to go to the places I have been with the army 10 years ago, however it was impossible to go north of Mitrovica in the Serbian-speaking area. Big walls of concrete and earth were blocking the roads leading there and I could see Serbian flags in the background. I was not really updated on the political situation (I will do my homework a bit better next time). Saying that, it was nice to see that so many young people have come back and that so many new houses have

been built.


When it comes to the confluence points (, a lot of them were less reachable than I thought (don’t always thrust the altitudes on Google Earth, they are only averages). And in difficult terrain, it took often 2-3 days to reach them.

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I did a few in Iran, only 1 in Naxcivan and 1 out of 3 in Iraqi Kurdistan. One was, if reachable at all, accessible from the MossulBaghdad road, so off-limits. No point to risk my life to reach an intersection of meridians and parallels :-) The second one was located in the waters of Dukan Lake, but reaching the shore was good enough. The views were amazing; it was like Musandam but greener and with fresh water. The last one was located behind huge cliffs impossible to cross and close to the zone bombed by the Turks. I was invited for lunch in a village and I saw on the news that they bombed the area (just 10km away) this very morning. I tried my luck a little further on a road in a canyon through the cliff. The little red triangles were warning me that the banks of the river were still mined, courtesy of the Kurdish civil war, and I was stopped at an army check-point a little further down the road. But don’t be afraid to go to Kurdistan. It is really safe if you avoid these border zones (and any sane person would) not only this but it’s really beautiful. I cannot try hard enough to convince you to take 3 weeks off, pack your car and cross the Gulf. Iran is only one night away (plus 6h of your worst administrative nightmare :-). I can assure you, you won’t regret it. For more pictures and day-to-day stories, you can visit my blog slowlanetonowhere. My fingers are getting numb from the cold, it is time to send the article and hit the road. I will keep you posted! Patrice.



Diving A few months ago, I decided

to “take the Master Scuba Diver Challenge”, as PADI advertises. Who could resist the dive credibility that comes along with the rating – ‘the highest non-professional level in diving’? Again, according to PADI, by gaining this rating, a diver is respected as having varied experience in a number of dive conditions, is a competent rescue diver and has logged at least 50 dives. I could do that, I decided.

A key requirement for the Master Scuba Diver rating is to complete five specialty courses, such as Deep Diver, certifying the diver to dive to the max allowed limit of 40m; Navigation Diver, providing the underwater navigation skills needed; Wreck diver; Underwater Photographer or Night diver. Wanting to make the MSD a little more exciting, I decided to take on some shark diving specialty courses. These are labeled as distinctive specialty courses and also count towards the MSD rating. I headed to Cape Town in South Africa in June to complete the ‘White Shark Diving’ Specialty course in Gansbaai with Mike Rutzen – otherwise known as the ‘shark man’ from Discovery Channel. What an amazing experience, especially when Mike had us diving with Great Whites – outside the cage. Well worth a visit if you are in that part of the world. Heading back to Dubai, a friend of mine recommended the next step for my shark diving MSD course – the Dubai Aquarium Specialty Diver course at the Dubai



Sharks By Scott Guinan

Aquarium, in the Dubai Mall. A course tailor made to train divers in the correct procedures for diving in the Dubai Aquarium – and a totally different take on the same shark diving theme compared to my experience in Cape Town. The Dubai Aquarium Specialty course comprises three dives in the aquarium which can be done in one afternoon, or over two days – I opted to dive all in one day. What I did like about the course is the fact that you dive outside of the cage in the main aquarium, with 33 species of shark and, of course, guaranteed visibility. Excited and, yes, a little nervous, I headed with some friends to the Dubai Aquarium on a sunny Dubai day. The first dive started with a briefing on procedures and how to interact with the marine animals and the conservation issues around sharks. Diving in an aquarium environment is definitely something different - testing your buoyancy skills to the limit! The second dive focuses on underwater photography and allows an opportunity to take photos inside the aquarium, or from the inside looking out! It was then time for the third dive that took place inside the shark cage, while the aquarists from the Dubai Aquarium fed the sharks. Photos can be taken, and believe me, come out really well!

Once certified as a Dubai Aquarium Specialty Diver, divers can take photos underwater on any subsequent dives. Dubai Aquarium Specialty Diver s can also apply to the Dubai Aquarium volunteers program and assist in the upkeep of the aquarium in their free time – something that I definitely plan to do! The Dubai Aquarium Specialty Course is run by Al Boom Diving email: or by calling 04-342-2993.

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Lebanon Climbing by Toby Foord-Kelcey



Mediterranean climate: check. Visas on arrival: check. Multiple

flights from the UAE every day: check. Diverse culture: bien sur. Superb food and drink: mais oui. Cliffs developed for climbing: yes! Looked at that way, it was odd I hadn’t visited Lebanon before.

My first stop was Harisa, in a commanding position at the head of the spectacular Tannourine valley. It is currently Lebanon’s most extensively-developed cliff. The approach is a short downhill walk from a pretty grass pasture, where wild camping is possible. The main area, reached first, offers single-pitch routes at moderate grades (F4F6c) on slabby rock, some up to 30m long. All the ones I did were well-bolted. Further along were some fun-looking overhanging routes at higher grades (F7a and upwards). Several large crags are visible in the valley from Harisa, of which at least one has been developed with “The Gold Mine”, a six pitch sport route with the hardest section graded F7a+. About 15km south of Harisa, also at high altitude, is Shangri-La, which I have not yet visited. This seems to be a similar venue, even more biased to moderate routes. Proximity to an eponymous ski-

The other major developed areas on Mount Lebanon are all near the private ski resort of Faqra. The best of these areas is on and around the Kfardebian Natural Bridge, a well-known Lebanese tourist site with an impressive rock arch. Recent visits from French climbers have pushed standards to F8a and beyond, though most of the routes look moderate. Unfortunately an accident has spooked the local municipality into issuing “licenses” for climbing. We didn’t have one and were chased away by the police after just one route. Helpfully more climbs can be found just a couple of kilometers away at “Abu Tony”. This collection of bolted rock pinnacles takes its name from Tony’s outdoor restaurant, which is immediately adjacent. Apparently this unique combination is very popular, especially with climbing families. The routes are short, but on very nice rock and again well-bolted. Like the Tannourine area, there is plenty more rock to explore in this area. One of my hosts is developing a kilometer long cliff with strong cracklines suitable for trad climbs. Beirut has a certain reputation for nightlife, which, being an ageing family-man, I couldn’t properly verify. However I did sample a quite long list of cafes, bars and restaurants in the Al Hamra and Gemmayze districts and can imagine some visitors being seriously distracted from climbing! Fortunately there are cliffs nearer to Beirut than the mountain areas, which don’t require a huge time commitment. Beirut River crag is within the city limits, hidden up a lush river valley. Currently there are about ten routes there, with grades from F5 to F6c. The climbing style is quite steep and gymnastic with some tufa and flowstone holds. An hour or so north on the coast road is the Chekka sea cliff. Deep water soloing there is a perfect day-after complement to a late night in Beirut. The main area is a deep cave with scope for several steep routes up to 10m high. So far, many of the obvious challenges have still not been done.

Mike Olver and John Redwine at Abu Tony

Toby. Toby Foord-Kelcey is the author of “UAE Rock Climbing”, the first printed guidebook to UAE and Musandam climbing. More details can be found at www.redarmadapublishing. com. Many thanks to Marcin Pius, John Redwine and Mike Olver for help with this article.

Campfire at Harisa

Hamra street cafe, Beirut

Beirut River cliff


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The hills rising up from Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast are the last gasp of the giant arc of limestone that starts in southern Spain and runs almost continuously eastwards through Catalunya, southern France, Italy, Croatia, Greece and Turkey. All those places have excellent climbing so it is unsurprising that Lebanon has great potential too. Even on the final descent into Beirut it’s obvious from the plane windows that there is limestone everywhere. However most of the climbing developed so far is concentrated in a few areas near the ski slopes high on Mount Lebanon, one or two hours from Beirut. This is good news for UAE climbers as these cliffs are very pleasant mid-summer - the UAE off-season.

hotel, also open in the summer, would make this a good first choice for a visiting group without local connections.


Part of the reason was a lack of information. Aside from some vague descriptions in a “climbing atlas for the Middle East” published five years ago, I knew nothing about Lebanon rock. Even Lebanese climbers I’d got to know in the UAE had never climbed in their home country. So when a good friend from Dubai moved there earlier this year, and reported that he’d met climbers, I rushed to make a weekend visit. I enjoyed that trip in May so much that I went back for a few more days in August.

Climbing in Lebanon is still at an early stage in its development and is very much a local activity. Climbing information needs searching out. The site and web forum is the best resource at the moment, but also check which is under construction. One practical issue for visitors from abroad is getting around. Unless you are Lebanese with relatives back home, or have friends in Beirut, you’ll need to rent a car and summon some bravery to join the traffic. And away from the coast road, navigation may also be tricky. On the positive side, despite its volatile history, Lebanon is a welcoming country and useless monoglots like me will be pleased to find English understood almost everywhere; failing that a smattering of French will likely work. Good luck/bon chance.


When I humbly discovered Jordan’s Petra Marathon voyeuring through Google I was rightly inspired. An adventure race and travel opportunity that measures up to the best of them, plus being a UAE resident, it is literally in my own back yard. I signed up later that afternoon and like most participants chose to leave the tour travel arrangement duties to the team at Albatross Travel, who organize and manage the event with the assistance of the Petra Region Authority.

You will hear this statement

from a quite of few people lamenting their unease at breaking into the running habit ‘but I hate running’. The best response I have and the one that ultimately changed my outlook is - ‘so don’t go for a run, go for an adventure’.

We’re born with an inherent desire to discover and to discover things for ourselves, not just through books or online. Our internal voice is full of curiosity ‘What’s around that corner, over that crest, beyond that cluster of trees, what does the sunrise look like in these parts?’ Adventure is about exercising your imagination and absorbing the world’s elemental beauty as a reward.

A race like this is attracts an interesting collection of people. The idea of being on tour with them taking in a few sights and sharing the experience leading into the marathon proved to be a good one. The ‘Team’ consisted (amongst others) of; an arm slapping Judge from California, a super nice couple from Peru, two Celtic lass from Ireland, a tanned Spanish couple, a competitive but light hearted Aussie, a Brazilian adventurer with a quirky saying I never figured out, Aussie girl living in Hong Kong, a South African running buddy, a breaded Canadian, a few pastry loving Danish, a one minute mile marathoner (Google it) and a bunch of other lovely folk – all humble, all with very interesting chat. Race mornings are usually pretty intimidating because of a series of self-doubt questions; how are the strains? What’s my time going to be? Has my preparation paid off? How fast will everyone else be? What if I don’t finish? God I wish I’d done more? Have I been to the toilet? This time I can honestly say it was a feeling of excitement, enough to make the hairs on your back prick up. I felt a little like a hound, on a lead, keen to sniff out the start line. Gear packed, stomach full I was about to leap from my room and bolt down the stairs when the phone rang. I answered and surprisingly realized it was my sister from Hong Kong. She’d tracked me down to say a quick ‘Good luck and enjoy!’

The Petra Marathon is a pinnacle example of an adventure runner’s outlook. For sure it’s a pretty grueling 42km long run, though there’s seriously much more to it than that. The Petra Marathon is an outdoor adventure through stunningly desert scenery with natural rock formations that are ‘rose-red as if the blush of dawn, that first beheld them were not yet withdrawn’ and into these mighty rocks carved ‘a city half as old as time’ as elegantly described by John William Burgon’s Poem Petra.

Our tour bus rolled down to the prerace gathering and finish area in the cover of night. There were only a couple of military trucks on the road. I’m sure I saw these guys again on the course at Km 8 mark with a few other soldiers sporadically placed at Km 9 and 12. Not sure if they were there to protect us from the ‘unknown’ or prevent some insane person from taking a short cut. Either way it was another interesting addition to the day.

Petra’s credentials as a travel and adventure destination are first class; the site remained unknown to the Western World until 1812 when Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt discovered and introduced it, it is described as one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage, chosen by the BBC as one of “the 40 places you have to see before you die” and to top it off voted as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. If you’ve been there you know this, if not then its time to go for an adventure.

Under the orange glow of the car park street lights we stretched, skipped and chatted through the prerace anticipation. It was also a chance to place drop bags with the organizers that would be later picked up at the 13km and 31km mark. I took energy gel and salts. From there it was a 2km convoy styled walk past the main Petra access gates, towards the Sik and onto the start area.



area while it was deserted, with no tourist crowds; it was bare and startling.

The Sik, translated to ‘The Shaft’, is the main entrance to the ancient city of Petra. The dim, narrow gorge (as little as 3 meters wide and between 91–182 meters in height) winds its way approximately one mile and ends at Petra’s most elaborate ruin, and our start line, Al Khazneh - The Treasury. A mind blowing sight. As the sun started to rise, gradually illuminating the rose-red rock walls, a degree of honor humbled us all – this was a truly great adventure. Our pre-race buzz was focused on the stark beauty of the surroundings, which revealed the chronicles of elements and time, the work of focused people and their compulsive imagination. The 10th of September’s focus (race day) was about the exploration of Petra, and not so much digits and the finish line. Our global band of 50 competitors was afforded the right to enter Petra very early morning, when it is closed to the public we experienced the

I settled into a nice pace along side a South African lady who was running the ½ marathon. We quickly realized that the mountainous and rocky beauty would not come without a price – hills. The course is a mix of off road and tarmac, and in my opinion a lot of hills. At the 6km mark I was happy to get off road to feel the grit of sand and loose gravel under my feet. As the sun climbed over the mountains, filling the waiting basin with its light, the terrain took on a ‘Mars- like’ feel. ‘The Red Planet! This is brilliant’ I gleamed.

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Around 6.30am the running adventure began. We panted our way down through many of Petra’s Ruins; evidence suggests settlements began in the late eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (1550-1292 BC). Running past a huge display of tombs, caves and monasteries carved out in the mountainsides is a dreamlike experience. I found myself thinking ‘what’s over this smooth rock hill, what’s around the dirt gravel track?’ The answer was more natural beauty and much more inspiration to keep moving and adventuring. This is the outdoors. This is the kind of experience an expat, country kid like me, lives for.


Within a few delighted minutes of arriving at the front of ‘The Treasury’ and clicking off some photos, our race organizers called for our attention ‘Competitors just 2 minutes until departure’. We had been briefed by the Petra Authority a day earlier that the first 1km would be walked. This is part of their ongoing and increasing efforts to protect the fragility of this world heritage site. Naturally we’d all willingly agreed. Preservation of the outdoors is a key concern for all lovers of nature and we all knew access like this was a very special opportunity.

race to cheer their new friend’s final steps over the finish line. The comradery of this group had been forged on the 3 tour days leading into the Petra Marathon. By the end of this race it was hardened by the shared experience of traveling to a far away and strange land to participate in an adventure story that will last for a life time.

Jonty Fernandez

The trail was loaded with excuses to stop to pull your camera from its hoister; a rock formation that looked like a baby elephant, a portrait photo with a Bedouin tribesman climbing the same track who sounded like he seriously needed an asthma inhaler, a goat herdsman wanting to know where I was from and encouraging me to quickly inspect the quality of his flock, a local school with excited children no doubt thinking ‘why?’, many panoramic views across the vast valleys and, towards the end, a seemingly birds-eye-view from the mountain side down into the ruins of Petra. The sun brought with it a serious side to the adventure; safety. Once on the road, with the sun blazing a high summer trail, there was a little protection from its relentless stare. For sure competitors would be pretty brave or crazy not to wear a hat and even long sleeves. Cramps are absolutely no fun and in this race a real concern. So if like me (showing signs of cramp from 37km onwards) you’re not used to hills, and are planning to tackle this adventure, pack lots of salt tablets. Crossing the line in 3rd place behind a couple of wiry Jordanian gentlemen was a proud moment. What was even greater was that all the competitors stayed around postTHE FIRST OUTDOOR ADVENTURE MAGAZINE FOR ARABIA


Desert Equestrian Club Location: Dubai, Khawaneej, corner of Academic City and Khawaneej Roads, near Arabian Center, Mushrif Park, near Mirdif, 10min from the Dubai International Airport Telephone: 050 3099770, 050 1978888 Email: Located in the most picturesque Khawaneej area of Dubai, the Desert Equestrian Club is easily accessible yet remote enough to offer the advantages of a peaceful desert and natural farm setting. The Club is a livery yard and riding school offering lessons to beginners and advanced riders of all ages, equestrian interests and backgrounds as well as desert hacks and trail rides for different riding levels. The Desert Equestrian Club maintains a friendly family atmosphere that stresses on safety and horsemanship and equine wellbeing.


Riding School

Daily morning and afternoon group and individual lessons for various riding levels, desert hacks and trail rides with flexible timings Ladies – only timings for lessons in a screened riding arena Beach rides and night full moon desert rides Gymkhana and small dressage and jumping competitions Customized events, parties, seminars, school-trips and group activities

Livery Facilities

Indoor air conditioned and outdoor stabling facilities Access to two riding arenas, grass and sand turnout paddocks and two endurance training tracks and proximity of the desert Customized feeding programs for recreational and performance horses Training assistance and advice in addition to trailering and horse transportation services Veterinary assistance

Riding Prices

Group Riding Lessons: AED 100.00 / 45min lesson (AED 80.00 in a package of 5 lessons valid for 1 month) Individual Riding Lesson: AED 200.00 / 60min lesson Group Desert Hack: AED 150 / 60min (AED 100.00 in a package of 5 hacks valid for 1 month) Pony Rides: Free / 10min

Livery Prices:

Livery recreational horse: AED 2000.00 / month (does not include shoeing or veterinary expenses) Livery performance horse: AED 2500.00 / month (does not include shoeing or veterinary expenses)

Desert Ranch

Location: Located at Al Sahra Desert Resort. Check the website for the location map Telephone: 044 274055 Mobile: 056 1772856 Email: Web: The Desert Ranch is an equestrian and cultural centre located at Al Sahra Desert Resort and set in the heart of 2.4 square kilometres of natural desert. The ranch is home to many protected species of desert flora and fauna including the endangered Arabian Fox, gazelle and desert leveret. The Desert Ranch offers numerous unique activities such as desert riding, camel cuddling, swimming with horses and an Arabian ranch tour. The ranch ethos is to focus on increasing awareness of the animals, the local culture and the environment and educating visitors about Arabian traditions. Since its inception in October 2010 the ranch has hosted numerous school trips focused on cultural awareness and nature-oriented educational activities.                


An equestrian centre offering horse livery, horse leasing, riding lessons, workshops Desert riding, camel cuddling, swimming with horses, an Arabian ranch tour Bonfire evenings and special events, youth programs and school field trips Unique corporate development workshops and teambuilding activities

Special Events & Prices:

Full Moon Desert Ride, Sun Oct 9th, 200dhs per person Halloween pumpkin carving/ Guy Fawkes Bonfire Evening with story telling and guitar sing along, Sat Nov 5th, 50dhs per Adult; 25dhs per child Full Moon Desert Ride, Tue Nov 8th, 200dhs per person Ranch Tour in celebration of Thanksgiving (exclusive for USA passport holders only), Thu Nov 24th, 10% discount! 100dhs per Adult, 75dhs under 16, under 7 are free.


Emirates Equestrian Club Location: Located adjacent the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa and the Dubai International Endurance City, the Emirates Equestrian Centre is within easy reach of Dubai.


Telephone: 050 5587656 or 050 5537986 Email: Web: (location map is available on website) The Emirates Equestrian Centre (EEC) is the only fully approved British Horse Society riding and training centre in the Middle East and provides qualified staff that caters to the needs of riding levels from novice to advance.

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Lessons and Hacking

A variety of lessons is available for children and adults and includes group, semi-private and private sessions. There is also a 90-minutue-desert hack for experienced riders on prepared trails for 200 dhs. Open Saturday-Thursday, lessons 7 a.m. – 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m


In addition to lessons and riding experiences, the EEC is also home to competitive events in the disciplines of Show Jumping, Dressage and Eventing. A total of 28 competitions are scheduled for the 2011-2012 season with highlights including: -FEI Dressage competition, November 22, which is part of the prestigious FEI World Dressage Challenge 2011 -Three separate One Day Eventing competitions, January 27, February 17, and March 3 2012 -The Dubai Show Jumping Championship CSI***-W, January 5 – 7 2012 - UAE Dressage Championships, April 16-17 All competitions are free to the public and provide a great atmosphere for family entertainment with refreshments available and other activities scheduled to make the afternoon fun. Competition schedules are subject to change – please contact the EEC to confirm dates and times.

Polo Club Location: Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club is located opposite Arabian Ranches on Al Qudra Road, next to Dubai Studio City. Telephone: 04 361 8111 Email: Web: Ideally situated opposite Arabian Ranches, Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club spread across 68 acres of majestic desert landscape is the perfect location for everything equestrian and a lot more. The Club comprises 336 stables along with 13 paddocks and international standard polo fields, show jumping and riding arenas, a pool and a spa. Away from the playing fields, the refined Spanish-style Clubhouse features myriad leisure and business facilities. Visitors to the Club can unwind with friends or colleagues in one of many stylish lounges, dine at an exceptional restaurant and terrace, cool off in the crystal clear pool or experience head-to-toe pampering at the spa. Offering unique and inspiring settings that are second to none, the Club features venues which boast a delightful ambience, ideal for a wedding, meeting or social gathering. Whether it’s for horse-riding, relaxing or social events, Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club presents the ultimate lifestyle destination.

Polo Season

You are invited to experience some of the best polo being played in the region. Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club features a series of 10 renowned polo tournaments this upcoming season. Return to the way the game of polo is meant to be enjoyed, where polo players and fans of all ages can gather together in a world-class venue for the love of the sport and the lifestyle.

Polo Picnics

Experience the perfect picnic on the polo field every Fridayfrom 3:00 pm onwards. VIP parking on polo field AED 100 per car during tournaments and AED 50 per car on regular Fridays.

Upcoming Polo Events

Season Opening Match 14th October 2011 Season Opening Cup 16th – 18th November 2011 UAE National Day Cup 2nd December 2011 Christmas Cup 14th – 16th December



] [carry

HandiKart Kayak Trolley


Price: 495 AED Available at: Adventure HQ store in Dubai’s Time Square Center, Al Yousef Motors (Yamaha) showrooms, Go Sport stores Light, but rugged, the HandiKart makes the transfer of equipment from the car to the water’s edge undemanding and effortless. All-terrain capability using unique Camba technology. Supports loads of up to 150kg. Suitable for kayaks, canoes and small boats. Exceptional levels of maneuverability - high ground clearance

[kay ak]

FeelFree Moken 10, Fishing Kayak

Price: 4,195 AED Available at: Adventure HQ store in Dubai’s Time Square Center, Al Yousef Motors (Yamaha) showrooms, Go Sport stores

Stable, maneuverable and easy to transport thanks to Feelfree’s unique Wheel in the Keel. The Wheel in the Keel gets you from your tailgate to the action without wearing you OR your kayak out. The Moken 10 Angler comes standard with molded-in carry handles, a stern crate recess and an innovative self-draining front storage locker that gives you a safe place to store your gear. Designed to accept your favorite rod holders, GPS and fish finders.

[kay ak]

Mission Kayak Flow Hatch Kayak

Price: 3,295 AED Available at: Go Sport Ibn Battuta Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Mirdif City Centre A sit on top kayak for wave surfing. Excellent stability and easy to handle make it ideal for families and fun seekers. Dimension: 295x75cm Weight: 19KG Max load 150KG



Alpinestars Tech 10 2012 Offroad boot


Price: 2,250AED Available at: Tel: +97143393399 Email:

The evolution continues. Alpinestars’ Tech 10 incorporates revolutionary design and development concepts to deliver a rugged, well balanced and extremely protective MX boot. It is a true successor to the Tech 8, both in design and its ability to perform at the very highest levels of off-road competition.

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The Naish Park

Price: 5,200AED including bar and lines Available at: Ocean Sports FZE (, Picnico (Beach Road, Jumeirah) Riders looking for simple, no-fuss performance. The Park is a performance-focused kite condensed into an easy, simple package. The Park’s three-strut design is stable and responsive. This configuration, combined with a powerful profile and full outline gives the Park the consistent pull of a “C” type kite and the power control of a swept kite. The swept leading edge positions the wingtips behind the center of the kite, which gives the kite easy relaunch capabilities and maximizes depower. The “do everything” nature of the Park opens up a huge range of performance options for the rider. It is the perfect tool whether you are focusing on sticking that handle-pass rotation, bashing the lip, or maximizing your freeride time on the water. Sizes: 12 & 14

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Option 1: Please fill in this form and mail it together with a cheque with an amount of 100 or 50AED, written to OutdoorUAE FZE or a 100 or 50AED note. Please make sure that if you mail, use recorded delivery (recipient signature required). As soon as we have received the payment and your subscription form, you will get a notification by email. If you don’t get a notification within 1 week please contact us directly. Option 2: Visit us at any of the events we are attending and fill in a form with us and pay. Check our newsletter or to see which events we are attending. Option 3: Online, via PayPal. Conditions: 1. All requirements mentioned above and below (*) must be met for a subscription 2. Subscriptions are only possible with valid P.O. Boxes within the UAE 3. If the subscription is canceled the retail price plus the mailing cost will be charged but the remaining amount will be refunded. OutdoorUAE FZE P.O. Box 215062 Dubai, UAE Phone: 04 4502419

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e r u t n e c v i Ch ks Ad


Adventure Chick hits the deep blue My first encounter of freediving, albeit in talk rather than trial, was many moons ago in St Andrews, Scotland where I spent many a late night partying hard with my little sister Alex and her friend Phillipe Cousteau, grandson of the famed diver Jacques Cousteau. Fast forward many years and a few months ago, a magazine article on extraordinary adventure chicks featured both myself and Sara-Lise Haith, Dubai’s very own freediving diva. Freediving has long intrigued me so stumbling upon Sara-Lise, a like-minded adrenaline junkie who is as passionate about diving as I am about running, excited me no end and nurtured this intrigue to an all-time high.

Very thorough and therefore very reassuring to Adventure Chick Tori and indeed, any other virgin freedivers!

go. The prospect of diving sans oxygen seemed a little like being told to jump out of a plane sans parachute but I repeatedly reminded myself that I do indeed have great lung capacity, most likely from my background as a swimmer.

Also, the prospect of being dressed head to toe in rubber has never really appealed (sorry boys!) but once kitted out, I think Sara-Lise and I could definitely have given any of the Bond heroines a run for their money!

Prior to meeting, Sara-Lise sent me a whole host of background information, including a document titled Diet for Freedivers. In a nutshell, freedivers need to eat the right foods, in general and in particular before diving, in order to avoid pain, equalisation and digestion problems. Raw and alkalineforming foods are strongly favoured.


She also sent through comprehensive notes on the course, what to expect, the skills and equipment required and the admin and certification procedures. THE FIRST OUTDOOR ADVENTURE MAGAZINE FOR ARABIA

Sara-Lise is an EDA (Emirates Diving Association) registered independent instructor, teaching PADI and AIDA courses in conjunction with Al Boom Diving. She organises regular weekends in Fujairah involving theory and pool practise followed by full immersion in the deep blue!

I knew before I met her that I would love her and I was right. She’s just the sort of teacher you would want to teach you and just the sort of girlfriend you’d want to hang out with afterwards.

Check out for more information and to find out more about a stint in the ocean yourself.

DURING • We met at Jumeirah Open Beach one

sunny afternoon (is there any other type in DXB?!) and prepared to hit the water

Here’s how it all went …

BEFORE • I felt a little nervous before giving it a

Sara-Lise then taught me how to duckdive … the aim to flip your legs up so you descend vertically without creating splash … and gave me tips on breathing in before going down and not breathing out whilst I was down. We then did some breathing exercises to reduce the pulse, lower the heart rate and slow you down full-stop. It turns out that focus on the breath plays a key role in freediving hence yoga being a great supporting discipline.

Love Tori x writer, runner, blogger & adidas athlete

Sara-Lise made a comment about how freedivers need to be very self-aware, aware of their bodies and aware of their limitations. Much then like long-distance running. Both also, with ongoing practise, can send you into an almost meditative state, a state of euphoria when the mind quietens, the heart sings and the spirit soars.

AFTER • All in all, I enjoyed a great taster to

what seems like a pretty cool sport. Freediving gives you the opportunity to experience the underwater world in the most natural way possible, the absence of cumbersome gear allows for a feeling of peace and serenity. Mastering the art involves a combination of psychology, physiology, breath control, physical conditioning and dive techniques.

PS. So relaxed I felt post-dive that I managed to crash my car on leaving the beach, still dressed in nothing but my bikini. Note to self: don’t dive and drive but do dress to drive! PPS. Please feel visit my website for more rambles on all things health, fitness and wellness-related PPPS. My email address is for thoughts, ideas, and suggestions … or just to say hello!


Part 8



The details of the routes contained in the guidebook are merely descriptions of the particular routes. In the longer routes (those taking more than 2 days) further detail is added with regard to planning and suggestions are given regarding specific considerations. The aim of this section is to give you an outline of the planning process when undertaking one of the guidebook’s routes as well as for planning your own routes. A suggested format for trip planning has been included. It is not meant to be followed slavishly but is meant as a guide/aide memoire in order to make sure that you have considered everything. The first task in Trip Planning is to decide where you want to go. Once you have decided this, you then need to research the area and plan a route to it, through it and back from it. The following resources are suggested as means of researching the area and your chosen route in particular: Google Earth™ (GE). In the absence of detailed mapping being readily available, GE provides an excellent alternative. The whole region is covered and despite the imagery in parts being several years old, much of it remains up-to-date and is eminently useable. The ability to zoom into areas with remarkable clarity can assist greatly in route planning. Tracks are usually visible as well as landmarks to aid navigation, such as large communication masts. You can construct a route and add waypoints and then take or mark the Latitude/Longitude co-ordinates on

GE and enter them directly into your GPS as waypoints. For ease of planning purposes it is better if you can build up a database for route planning with one of the available navigational software packages (such as Garmin’s Mapsource™ – see below) before uploading it onto your GPS. In areas where you can see that navigation or route finding will be difficult you can increase the number of waypoints you select, which will give you a better chance of remaining on your chosen course. It is possible to save the detailed imagery of your route on GE onto a computer and then link your computer with your GPS whilst en route. This will allow you to see in real-time where you are along your route on the GE imagery displayed on your computer. Despite being time consuming in creating, this method allows you to instantly to see where you are and in what terrain.

created and many allow you to download data from your GPS, such as the tracks and waypoints of trips previously recorded. There is also specific area software, such as that sold by Garmin™, which contains substantial geographical data; such as the location of fuel stations, hotels, garages, workshops etc… Once you have created your route on such software, it can then be shared with others who will be accompanying you on the trip. It can be sent as an attachment to e-mail or saved on an external memory device and given to them personally. The recipients can then upload the route data directly onto their own GPS. This saves them considerable time and effort.

Where you can receive a mobile phone signal, it is now possible, with smart phones, to follow your progress on GE live. This is incredibly re-assuring (though expensive) if you need a confidence boost to your navigation skills.

Navigation Software.

As already mentioned, navigation planning software is a means to create and edit a route and avoids the difficulty of trying to do it solely on your GPS. They are particularly flexible systems and enable you to upload the data to your GPS. Waypoints can be entered, routes


If you have satellite or conventional mapping you should first check the date of publication in order to be able to asses how current it is. Hopefully the chances are that both mapping and GE will be within one or two years of each other and, therefore, pretty reliable. With your mapping you should mark (with removable ink or pencil) your waypoints and the intended route. Thus, if your GPS fails you will quickly be able to identify between which two waypoints you are on your map and be able to identify your exact position more easily.

Guidebooks. There are several guide-

books for off-road driving in both the UAE and Oman. They are excellent sources of information and advice, particularly the flora and fauna details of the region. Visit any of the good bookshops and you’ll find them.

Weather Forecast.

The coolest parts of the year are when most people decide to go off-roading. The coolest parts of the year are also when you are most likely to experience rain. This is particularly pertinent if you are going into the mountains and wadis, where flash-flooding is a potential and very real danger. Before embarking on a trip you need to obtain a forecast and alter your plans accordingly if the forecast suggests. There are several resources for weather forecasts but


-Fuel. Where are the nearest service stations to the start and finish points, do you need to carry fuel and how much, etc…

two particularly good websites for long range and short range forecasts for the region are as follows: National Centre For Meteorology – UAE Website: and Weather Underground – Worldwide Website:

-Food. How many days food needs to be taken per individual.

Planning/Trip Template. When

-Water. How much water must be taken


What equipment each vehicle should carry for basic recoveries and driving.

Co-ordinating Instructions. The de-

Below is a suggested template for a Trip Plan with explanations/suggestions for the content under each of the headings. This is something of a ‘Rolls-Royce’ solution, which is intended for the longer, more complex trips. It’s not being advocated as a necessity for day trips or for those areas and routes with which you are familiar.

-Repair. What spares, tools and other equipment should be carried in order to facilitate vehicle repairs en route.

Timings. What time do you want people to meet at the rendezvous point. What are you estimates for the likely duration of the various stages of the drive, when do you expect to finish the off road section, etc…

-First Aid. What should be carried in a

Title. Give the trip a name and state the

-Key Distances. What is the distance to

area and dates of the trip. Under the title describe the aim of the trip and the area you are going to and where it is in relationship to where you’re starting out from. Highlight key distances and describe, briefly, your intended route. State any concerns regarding remoteness and what the plan is regarding escape.

The Plan.

This is your chance to describe

tail necessary to make sure everybody knows where they need to be and when.

the rendezvous point from the major cities, what is the off-road distance for the trip, what are the distances between the nearest service stations before and after the off road sections, etc…

-Grouping. Will you travel as one group or are the numbers large enough to have to split into two groups to ease driving and convoy discipline.

-Convoy Driving. A reminder of convoy discipline and individuals’ responsibilities. -Recovery. How you intend to deal with recoveries en route, both simple and complex recoveries. Administration. The detail necessary to ensure everybody knows what to bring with them.

basic first aid kit and state who are qualified first raiders.

-Camping. Where you expect to be camping and any pertinent administrative points for the campsite set up and requirements. Communications. Explain how you

wish to communicate with the group whilst travelling. Make sure you have everybody’s mobile telephone number. List the names of the people taking part, put them into their groups along with their vehicle’s description and associated mobile phone number. If some have a satellite phone you should add that number to the list as well.


Here you should describe, briefly, the route and then list the waypoints, showing the co-ordinates and a description of each waypoint. Some people in the group may not have route planning software and may have to manually load their GPS with the route. Below is an example of the planning/trip template for a route across the Al Maghrib in the South West of the UAE.

AL MAGHRIB EXPLORATION 14 - 15 JANUARY 2011 The Al Maghrib area is the expanse of desert 220km to the SW of Abu Dhabi. It is bordered in the East by the Arada to Ghayathi main road and to the South and West by the Saudi/UAE border. The aim of the trip is to explore the Al Maghrib desert, starting from Umm Al Ishtan, which is 37km WSW of Ghayathi. We will aim to exit the dunes near Yaw Al Birer, on the West side of the Liwa crescent. The straight line distance from the start point to the finish point is approx 127km, though the actual, driven route will be longer. The intended route is approximately 232km, and consists of several zig zags (see the Mapsource attachment), but we will need to be prepared for more than this. You need to be aware that this is the most remote desert area in the UAE. There appear to be few escape routes out of the area. Where we are when, and if, we need to escape from the area, will determine which of the following three escape routes we use: 1.There is a track running N – S to the West of the Al Maghrib (shown on the Mapsource attachment ).


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how you see the trip playing out over the course of the period allotted for it. Where you expect to camp, any key features en route, any detail you wish to add to bring clarity to your fellow travellers.

for each individual’s daily consumption. Also remember that you may need to use this water for the vehicle’s cooling system should it leak or burst.


planning a longer, more demanding trip it is important to ensure that you have not forgotten anything in the planning process and that you have communicated all the details and requirements to your fellow travellers. Do bear in mind that you cannot expect to cover all eventualities. There will come a time when something unplanned and unexpected happens, for which you have made no consideration. When this happens, you will have to rely on yourself to deal with it.

2.The Arada to Ghyathi road. 3.The border fence road, which is a tarmac road.


THE PLAN After meeting at the Start Point we will then start the journey south westwards into the dunes (we will ‘deflate’ at a suitable point near the Start Point). My intention is to follow the line of the waypoints (WP) - see the ‘ROUTE’ para below. WPs have been selected from Google Earth™ as ‘obvious’ ground features. There is a confluence point (N23 E53) 5.5km West of Mag 11, which may be worth detouring to. Our rate of progress will dictate at what time we stop to set up camp – I expect that it will be somewhere between Mags 9 & 10. We will stop by 17.00 at the latest, regardless of the progress we have made. If we are making rapid progress, we will stop earlier so that we can enjoy a daylight camp for longer and have a chance to explore the local area. This is based on the expectation that the distance left to be covered (about 100km) will allow us to make it to the Finish Point before 16.00 the next day. The going beyond Mag 11 becomes progressively more difficult. We should be driving again by about 08.30 the next day with the intention of getting to the Finish Point before 16.00. This will mean that the drive back to Abu Dhabi/Al Ain/Dubai/Sharjah/ will not too late in the day. CO-ORDINATING INSTRUCTIONS Timings 14th Jan 15th Jan 09.00 Meet at Start Point. 08.30 09.30 Depart Start Point. 16.00 17.00 First day’s driving to end.

ETD for second day’s driving. LTA Finish Point.

Key Distances Dubai to Ghayathi Petrol Station Ghayathi Petrol Station, though Maghrib, to Taraq Petrol Station Ghayathi Petrol Station to Start Point Start Point to Finish Point Finish Point to Taraq Petrol Station

= approx 320km. = approx 316km. = approx 48km. = approx 232km. = approx 36km.

Grouping We will travel as two groups. The group details are shown below in the ‘COMMUNICATIONS’ paragraph. Each group will have a winch equipped vehicle. Convoy Driving. Keep an eye on the vehicle in front of you and follow it, but you are responsible for the vehicle behind you. If it drops back or stops then you need to do the same. Please remember this point. Recovery. Each group has a winch as the Sweep vehicle. We are all relatively experienced at vehicle recovery but please adhere to the following: Simple Recovery. If the vehicle behind you or in front of you gets stuck then go and help. Please do not wait for somebody else to come along and do it. This will prevent a gaggle of opinions and will help to keep the convoy moving smoothly. If you’re not helping then please stay with your vehicle, in line, and wait until we move off again. Difficult Recovery. If the recovery is likely to be time consuming then a consensus opinion may be likely. Those with the greatest experience/knowledge/equipment should direct and everybody else should follow their direction. Off Road Adventures. As the aim is to explore the Al Maghrib. I intend to do just that and take a ‘reasonable’ route and not the most demanding one. However, for those that want to ‘play’ in the dunes there are two options. Firstly, if we get to my chosen campsite early then there will be time to explore/play, secondly, if we are making good progress on the second day I will stop and people can go off and play. We’ll then regroup and head to the Finish Point. ADMINISTRATION Fuel at Start. Fill tanks at Ghayathi. Each vehicle to carry at least 40 litres of spare fuel. There is an alternative petrol station closer to the start (see Mapsource attachment) but I’m not sure that it will be operational. Fuel at Finish.

The nearest petrol station from the Finish Point is at Taraq, 39km away.


Minimum of 5 litres per person per day.


Sufficient for 48 hours per person. We will stop for lunches ‘en route’.

Driving/Recovery. Minimum of: Recovery Strap Shackles Work gloves Spade Fire Extinguisher Flag & pole


Jack and jacking board Tyre pressure gauge


Photo credit: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASAGSFC






Petrol St. Alt





Junction Track Top

E52 E52 E52 E52 E52 E52 E52 E52 E52 E52 E52 E52 E53 E53 E53 E53 E53 E53 E53 E53 E53

N23 N23 N23 N23 N23 N23 N23 N23 N23 N23 N23 N23 N23 N23 N22 N22 N22 N22 N22 N22 N23

Petrol Start JUNCTION MAG START MX 1 MX 2 MX 3 MX 4 MX 5 MX 6 MX 7 MX 8 MX 9 MX 10 MX 11 MX 12 MX 13 MX 14 MX 15 MX 16 MAG FINISH Petrol Finish

50.833 44.995 39.671 33.177 30.636 28.525 25.828 21.315 15.043 09.533 13.168 03.954 09.354 00.334 55.356 55.201 56.059 55.036 54.183 54.447 05.256



Credit: NASA




Petrol St. Start

E 11

48.584 28.868 29.533 32.121 39.492 32.007 36.654 28.604 25.278 33.977 45.615 41.119 03.834 03.205 13.016 12.959 16.515 19.289 23.289 24.630 36.441

MX14 MX13 Track Out MX15 MX16 MX Finish

Petrol St. Finish

Ghayathi Petrol Station Road Junction Um Al Ishtan Roadhead Buildings Bad Khamis Camel Farm Camel Farm V Shaped Dunes Big Bush Vegetation Plantation Mast Plantation Tank Vehicle Buildings Buildings Sabkah Edge Buildings Gatch Track Taraq Petrol Station


E 11

E 22 E 11 E 22

E 11

E 77

E 311

E 11

E 33

E 611

E 44

E 77

E 22

E 611

E 311

E 11

E 33

E 44

E 66

E 611 E 88

E 311

E 11

E 66

E 55

E 11

E 88

E 18

E 11

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E 89




E 99


Repair. Vehicle Tool Kit Spare ATF Spare Coolant

Jump Leads Spare Brake Fluid Spare Fuses

Spare Engine Oil Spare Gear Oil Spare Drive-belt/s

Camping. We are likely to camp somewhere between Mag 9 & 10 (see Route below). Where we stop, depends on progress and time (it may be somewhere else!). Bring sufficient and appropriate gear for yourselves. Please try and bring some wood. First Aid. Mike and David are qualified first aiders. Please bring a first aid kit. Minimum suggested requirements are as follows: SPF 30+ Sunscreen, 250g 1 Lip Salve 4 Iodine or Alcohol Swabs 1 Adhesive Tape 60cm x 2.5cm 3 Butterfly Bandages 4 Doses of Pain/Fever Medication

4 1 4 1 5 1

Gauze Pads 10cm x 10cm Antibiotic Cream Moleskin Patches 9cm x 9cm Gauze Roll 1.5m x 5cm Electrolyte Replacement tablets ACE Bandages 8cm

COMMUNICATIONS W/T. Callsigns will be ‘first names’ (see below). Communications will be important; please listen carefully. If you have more than one, please bring your spare/s. Mobile Phones. Below is a list of the mobile phones numbers that will be carried by those on the trip:





MIKE (Lead)


1 1 1 1



2 2 2 2 2



M O B I L E NUMBER 050…..

ROUTE Selecting this route was done without the benefit of numerous land features being visible from Google Earth™. Consequently there are a couple of legs of over 20km. However there appears to be nothing to avoid and so the driven route between WPs will be relatively ‘open’ to interpretation. The selected WPs are as follows (1st number = degrees, 2nd number = minutes): REFER TO MAP ON PREVIOUS PAGE.


Karting:: Calling all kids!

This is seen throughout the world where a motor sport has been a culture for decades. Not so in the Middle East, motor sports is still in its infancy. Sure many people love to watch motor sports and even compete but we don’t see the same drive and enthusiasm that is needed to get kids started in grass roots motor sports. Expat fathers are pushing their children into karting in the UAE but we hope that we will begin to see this culture happen more with UAE nationals. Its only just starting to happen in the UAE and the Kartdrome is the perfect spot to kick-start a child’s enthusiasm in motor sport, nurturing the young drivers and getting them started in motorsports.      One of our regular racers are the Healy Family.

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In Europe motor sports is huge, predominantly men have been watching racing on TV or live for decades. These enthusiasts get the ‘motor sports bug’ and may start entering some form of motor sports. But since these enthusiasts are already in middle age their aspirations of becoming a Formula One driver are crushed. To compete at the highest levels of motor sport like Formula One, kids need to start very young age like all the big Formula One drivers. These enthusiasts now become fathers and propel dreams of Formula One into their children, starting them kart racing at a young age with hopes of becoming the next big Formula One Driver.

Healy Boys in Karting I have always loved watching motorsport from a young age. On moving to Dubai in 2008 I started kart racing in the Vampire class and then later onto Rotax. Finn started Karting at 6 years old and started racing after hit 8 th birthday in 2009. My other two boys also started karting at a young age, Ronan just before his 3rd birthday and Rory when he was 4. It is a challenge having three different sizes of karts and maintaining them. Most people have only one child interested in the sport, which is definitely easier! The inspiration is that for boys young and old, karting is great fun and keeps you fit. Not only this but one of the best things about the race meetings is the social side of things. The Dads are competitive yes, but if one of us is stuck for a spare part or fixing one of the kids’ karts we all help each other out.   Finn doesn’t have the aim to be in F1 but the youngest, Ronan (5) managed to sit in one of the Lotus Renault F1 cars at Goodwood this year and he certainly believes he will be in F1 one day. Paul Healy.

The 10 steps to kart racing

Finn Healy

RX7 Kart


Are you 7 or older and interested in motor sports?


Yes? Get to the Kartdrome and rent some 4-stroke arrive and drive karts like the RX7’s. It’s affordable at 100 AED for 15Mins


Tuition can be arranged at the Dubai Kartdrome, classes’ run over 4 days on weekends and costs 1,600 AED.


Take out the Kartdrome’s faster RX250 kart. (160 AED for 15 Mins)


The next step is to try SWS arrive and drive championship. At 450 to 650 AED this includes practice, qualifying and 2 races with as many as 30 other competitors.

6 RX250 Kart

You now want a professional racing kart? You need your CIK Kart racing license which involves a short exam, this is compulsory with a high pass rate at the Kartdrome. (200 AED)


Take your ARKS pass certificate to the ATCEUAE to get your CIK racing license. (500 AED)

The next step is the Rotax Championship, which is a 12 round championship at 3 tracks in UAE. You will need a kart license, investment, some technical knowledge and time. The Kartdrome provides storage so you don’t have to tow or store your equipment far from the track. 1 year storage is 3000 AED, Racing kart 10 to 40 thousand AED.



Race wear will be required at this level and a set can be purchased for as little as 3000 AED, from OMP, Sparco or Alpinestars.


Start racing!! The more you race the better you get, become good and this is the basis for a long term motorsports career.

Shot of Rotax race


Angela Barlow


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Special Horse with a

by Cecile Guillemot

Horses, in particular the Arabian

horse have played a major role in shaping the history of the Arabian Peninsula, this noble breed’s association with man dates back to pre Islamic time; many examples can be found as artists have immortalised them through poetry, cited in religious texts and beautifully depicted artworks throughout the ages. The Arabian Horse is mentioned in several verses of the Holy Quran and praised for its beauty and strength in several chapters; one in particular, Al Adiyat, God swears by them, vowing: “By the [steeds] that run, with panting [breath], striking fire [by their hooves].” And if the breed was spread on the back of the expansion of Islam, so Islam spread on the back of the breed, the animal carrying many of the warriors as they conquered new territories.

Here in the UAE horse culture is expanding, with more and more individuals choosing to reconnect with age-old traditions where horses were an essential part of life. HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, an avid horse-lover and owner of some of the world’s greatest Arabian horses, is one of the catalysts for encouraging ownership of this breed. He is not only a well respected horseman, but he continues to bring to the UAE success on the international equine stage. Sheikh Mohammed has developed the horse racing industry from the humble beginnings in 1980, when he opened Nad Al Sheba racecourse to the worldwide success of establishments of Godolphin, Darley and Shadwell. This has inspired greater segments of the UAE community and a younger generation who are choosing to participate in the growing trend of equestrian sport. Preserving the purity of the Arabian horse is also a passion that is shared by, HH Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi,


Angela Barlow

Angela Barlow

Ruler of Sharjah, who imported the first straight Egyptian stallion into the UAE in 1989. Since that time he has been instrumental in improving many of the bloodlines in the Emirates, allowing local breeders to use his stallions on their mares and holding shows for home bred Arabians. Many of the UAE rulers hope to encourage and inspire both breeders and equestrians alike to enjoy and preserve the beauty, heritage and integrity of the true Arabian horse. The Arabian is in all mainstream disciplines; from dressage to showjumping, polo and endurance riding, there are various local, national and international competitions occurring throughout the UAE during the equine season [October-March].

species that can be seen in the surrounding vegetation. Contrary to what most people imagine about the desert here, it is simply brimming with life, an early morning or later afternoon ride through pristine sand dunes, is there anything more tranquil?

As most young horse lovers will attest the relationship between you and your horse is a very special bond that transports you to another world. Speaking as a horse lover, I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t ride as it helps to calm and keep me grounded in this fast paced environment here in the UAE. Escaping to the desert on my Arabian horse is an experience that is so unique to this part of the world, and something I will treasure for life, this got me thinking about other experiences unique to the UAE you can do here that involves horses. Desert hacking: Sliding through the sand dunes taking in the desert wildlife: camels, gazelles, desert foxes, desert hares and an array of bird

One newly opened stable here in Dubai is the Desert Ranch run by Carrie Tindell, the ranch is located at the Sahara Desert Resort. They have a wonderful set up and their horses are in excellent condition and well suited for riders who are beginners through to very advanced equestrians looking for change in routine from the arena. The hotel blends into the desert scenery, as it resembles traditional architecture with wind towers and beautiful internal courtyards, it appears as an oasis when you ride past as it is nestled between rolling sand dunes and surrounded by palm trees.

Angela Barlow

As you look back you can make out the Dubai skyline from a distance, bringing you back to reality and out of your Laurance of Arabia day dream… Moonlight rides: So you may be well experienced with daytime desert hacking, have you been out for a moonlight ride? Under luminous glow of a full moon you are taken on a wonderful ride. Surprisingly, it is very easy to see your surroundings and the beautiful moon only adds to the dramatic atmosphere that is so very different from a day time hack. You will see the desert transform, as you listen to the captivating sounds of the nocturnal wildlife. The Desert Ranch offer great facilities and after the moonlight ride you can all sit around a campfire roast a few marshmallows, drink tea and swap stories. They will arrange various rides for different riding abilities. Full moon rides happen once a month as are best experienced in winter months as you can gather around the fire afterwards. Swimming with horses: Now this is something that everyone can experience, a great activity to do with visitors (we all go through this dilemma about how to entertain guests with “UAE unique activities” especially those who are the more outward bound adventurous type). This is only available at the Jebel Ali Beach Resort and Spa, the horse stable that is part of the hotel offers this exclusive aquatic activity that will be sure to have you grinning from ear to ear. We were lucky enough to have a private session with the charming Nadine Haase – Manager of the riding school and stable. We took our horses down to the private beach off the marina and next to the immaculate grounds of the palace about 100metres away, it was very picturesque setting with white sands and turquoise water. You start by wading into the water and then gradually walk out deeper and deeper until the horse starts swimming, all you have to do is grab a handful of mane while being pulled along lying over the horse’s body, you glide effortlessly up and down the beach, running in the shallow waters. If you are lucky enough to get “Dodger” you will discover that he has an array of tricks; one of them you can see from the photographs (this is not something I would encourage novice riders to engage in). Most horse riders have the same dream to ride on a beach and go swimming with a horse, so why not fulfil your childhood fantasies and make your friends wild with envy with fabulous pictures of you frolicking with your horse on the beautiful Dubai coastline. A definite addition to any horse lover’s bucket list, I rate them very highly and is ‘must do’ when visiting or living in this fascinating country. Remember to be safe when riding, especially when venturing out into the desert, always go with an organised group, never ride alone and make sure you wear a helmet. Happy riding, Cecile.

For Information and bookings: Jebel Ali beach Resort and Spa – Horse riding stable (Club Joumana): Contact Sabine Haase – Manager Telephone: 04 8145023/ 5058 Email: Website: The Desert Ranch (See page 26 for more details) Cecile is co-founder of the newly established UAE equine community portal for those who live and breathe horses, you will find out everything related to the equine community here in the UAE – for equine related businesses and horse riders alike.


Meet my

play group Anas Thongtha on Vertical Jigging

It's boring to fish alone. It’s great to fish with like-minded individuals that share the same passion and frame of mind.

In the next few issues, I will be introducing you to my playgroup; My fishing buddies, My brothers in piscatorial pursuits, my family.

the fish from shaking the hook free. The hooks are tied onto the hook via an “assist chord”. Usually made of high tensile strength Kevlar, gelspun dyneema or spectra, these chords don’t stretch and are super strong. They are knotted to the shank of the hook, and covered with a piece of shrink tube to protect the knot.

This month, we will be taking off the shroud of the wonderful art of jigging with our fishing group’s youngest member, Anas Thongtha. Anas is from Thailand and has been based in Dubai for the last 4 years. He works for an airline based here. Calling him an avid angler is an understatement. I asked Anas to drop by Casa Belen (my place) and take a small assortment of jigging gear that he would take with him if he was fishing in and around the UAE. Anas is no stranger to big fish, he travels the world extensively, looking for new places to fish and new species to fish for. Given that, his gear is highly specialized and he buys gears that are reliable, after all, who would want to be in a dream destination and suffer gear failure?! Before we dig in to the specifics, please note that Anas is fortunate enough to figure out his preferences and these are the brands and sizes of gear that he uses. This differs from person to person and may or may not work for you. Let’s start from the terminal end.

The hooks

“Assist hooks” are used for helping to keep


Solid rings for Assist hooks

A specialized pair of pliers is used to attach the split rings to the jig and solid ring. Assist hooks are a must in vertical jigging

Anas uses Japanese premade assist hooks in several sizes to suit the size of the jig. The gape of the hook should be wider than the widest part of the jig.

Solid rings

The assist hooks are then attached via loop knot to solid rings. The ones pictured are specialized “8” rings made by a popular manufacturer in Taiwan. This type of solid ring protects your knot from the jig’s swaying action. The solid rig and hook setup is then connected to the jig via a XXX strong split-ring. Putting two assist hooks in on one jig is increases your chance of a hook up, this is common practice as shown in this well used jig. You can also use just one assist hook as I often do.


There are literally thousands of jigs in different shapes, sizes and colors. The short jig and long jig have different actions. Both are used for specific purposes and and for someone like Anas, it also dictates the type of tackle you use. Short jigs are designed to get you down deep fast. Mostly used for bottom dwelling fish, it has a very erratic action and are best used with a very mechanical jigging motion. This jigging style gives it the short jig it’s best action. Amberjack and groupers love this jig. Depending on how the jig is designed, it also has a slight wobbling motion on the way down. Long jigs are center balanced and are designed to travel in a horizontal plane when you pause. When you give it slack, it will have a wide spiraling action on the way

Jigs come in different sizes, colors and configurations - this is a very small sample of what you can get

down. Long jigs are best used with spinning tackle because it gives you a natural pause between your jigging motion and cranking. Being this specific on the tackle used is not a rule; rather, it is optimizing the action that each tackle system gives you and although a lot of people stick to this, it is again, a matter of preference.

Leader and line and PR knot

models and will not let you down when it counts the most.



Both overhead and spinning reels are used for jigging. Overhead reels are often used with the shorter jigs and spinning reels are used with long jigs. Overhead reels don’t give you a pause in between cranks while spinning reels give you a pause on the crank. Although you might think that there is no difference, the jig’s action will tell you otherwise. Long jigs will travel in sideways or in a horizontal plane on this pause, make a long pause and the long jig will do a wide spiral while dropping down to the depths.

A spool of Metered PE line, Nylon leader and a PR knot tool

These reels, although small in size have power comparable to a trolling reel that are designed to carry 80lb (40kg) line.

The Rods used for jigging are also very specialized. They are designed to be parabolic. This means the rods are designed to bend deeply but at the same time, give you a lot of lifting power. This also helps cushion the stress the angler gets from the fish, acting as a shock absorber. Anas uses Jigging Master Powerspell, Major Craft Offblow, and Zenaq Toquito rods.

Spinning reels give you almost complete slack line when you open the bail to drop the jig. The long jig performs very well in this instance. You need a very reliable reel in jigging and there aren’t any better than the two pictured. Anas has both the Daiwa Saltiga 2010 model and the Shimano Stella SW. These two very strong and reliable reels are top shelf range

The leader system is again a matter of personal preference. Some use florocarbon and others use nylon. Anas and I share the same preference on this; we use different types of leaders for different situations and for different fish. If we are after tuna, florocarbon leaders are what we both use. In vertical jigging, you want the non stretching qualities of PE (Poly Ethelyn gel-spun) line. This is the same type of line that’s used to make some of the assist chords. You can use the single colored lines and they will catch you fish. Anas uses “metered” lines. These are lines that are color coded per 10

His preference for overhead reels is no different. The overhead reel pictured is a Jigging Master Powerspell PE5. This reel is specifically made for jigging.

A Jigging trip is always a trip to remember

Jigging isn’t for everyone. The physical requirements for this type of fishing are too much for most people, it certainly isn’t for you if your idea of fishing is sitting around and waiting for a bite. If you are determined to walk this path, the rewards are big. My thanks to Anas for taking the time to drop by and share his images and compare notes. Till next tide change, Kit.

An Overhead reel - best used with short jigs

The Daiwa Saltiga 2010 one of the most reliable reels on earth


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Short jigs are designed to get you deep, fast

meters or so. This aids in depth control and it tells you exactly how deep the bottom is and how far from the bottom the fish are. The picture shows an example of a japanese made metered PE line as well as a nylon leader spool and a tool you use to make a PR knot. You can see how this tool is used and how the knot is tied by searching youtube using the search phrase “PR Knot”. The knot is very sleek and is a very strong. This helps the line pass through the guides easily.


Long jigs are center balanced and are designed to travel in a horizontal plane if you give it slack line

The Shimani Stella, a reel that is well loved, proven and monster tested the world over

close up of the sleek profile of a PR knot



Name: Cecile Guillemot Favourite Activity: Horse riding Nationality: Australian


How long have you been in the U.A.E. and why did you come here? 4 years, my

parents moved over here, during university holidays I would visit them for a couple of months at a time. I loved UAE and ended up moving over here permantly.

What’s your passion? Horses have always

been a passion in my life; my earliest memories are surrounded by horses on my grandparents farm in rural Australia. When I was a baby my grandfather would take my out riding with him, checking the paddocks and livestock. Our first pony was called Misty followed by Tiny Tim. I did the pony club thing and then eventually decided to get my BA in Equine Business Management, at the University of Sydney, during this time I competed in several Endurance riding events and would train and start young horses. I will always remain in this industry, when you love what you do, why would you ever want to change?

What’s the name of your horse and what’s special about it? I’ve had many

horses in my life both back in Australia and UAE. My most recent horse was a beautiful Arabian by the name of Marywood Totally Cool – But we all just called him “Cool” I rescued him over three years ago, he changed my life we had an amazing bond that I can, he taught me allot, sadly he passed away recently at the age of 16.

What’s your favourite route/stable/horse riding facility? A good friend of mine Sa-

maya Abbas who has her own private endurance stable – Al Sahra. The desert is pristine and we enjoying riding together.

What do you recommend our readers if they want to learn horse riding? Find a

place that has a qualified instructor and suitable horses and facilities in which to learn safely, there are many equine centres and stables that offer riding lessons and specialised training. I would recommend that you purchase your own helmet and not to rely on stables to provide them for you, that way you can ensure that the helmet your wearing is not only certified but in top condition! Cecile.



Our Cover Girl!



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Name: Leah Fleischmann What is your favourite activity and passion? I have so many hobbies I love

that it’s hard to decide what activity is my favourite, there’s just never enough time in a day. I used to play lacrosse for 5 years in high school and university, I was a snowboard instructor in Colorado for a while, and I have water-skied and wake-boarded since I was little. As far as horses go, I grew up in Switzerland where we owned a small horse which my grandmother used to pop me on before I could even walk and since then I’ve always been mesmerized by Horses. I road in Switzerland until I was 15 years old when then my family moved to Boston MA; unfortunately my riding hobby had to take a long break because there were no stables close to where we lived. I feel fortunate that for the past two years I have been able to merge back into working and playing with horses first on a Dude ranch in Missouri, then an a equestrian farm in Tennessee and now at The Desert Ranch in Dubai.

What is your nationality? I was born in

New York City but grew up in Switzerland (sneaky way of getting double citizenship). When I was 15 my family moved to Boston where I went to high school, then I jetted off to Santa Barbara, CA to complete my undergrad university degree in Business and then after an incredible snowboarding adventure in Colorado it was back to Switzerland to complete my masters in business with a focus on the hospitality industry.

How long have you been in the U.A.E. and why did you come here? It will very

soon be 6 months ago when I landed in the UAE to start working at The Desert Ranch. The reason I am here is because year and a half ago I came to visit my boyfriend who lives in Abu Dhabi and because he knew how much I loved horseback riding he brought me on a sunset ride at The Desert Ranch. I was so taken by the beauty of the desert and that on the back of a stunning Arabian horse at sunset, I felt like I was in a Hollywood movie. When I was asked months later if I would like to join the team and work there, I didn’t hesitate to pack my bags and take on this new exciting adventure. So here I am...

What’s your favourite route/stable/ horse riding facility? To be honest I have

not seen many of the stables in the UAE yet. But comparing from all the stables I have spent time at, I feel that The Desert Ranch definitely is unique and a place that stays in peoples’ memories for a long time after they come to visit. It’s more of a rustic ranch than an equestrian centre, and I think that’s what separates it from many of the other stables in Dubai. Everyday I go out for a ride here and the sand-dune desert setting puts me back at peace. I don’t really have a favourite route; it’s wherever the path takes me that day.

What do you recommend our readers if they want to learn horse riding? It

depends what the riders’ desires and goals are. Right now we are restructuring the business to offer a variety of different riding opportunities, from leisurely desert riding, beginners, advanced riding classes for all ages, to riding programs for the communities youth. However, whatever the persons’ goals are in their pursuit for riding, I would recommend everyone experience both the sunrise and the sunset desert ride. If you are lucky you will even get to see some wildlife while trekking up and down the sand-dunes on our protected heritage desert landscape site. Leah.

What’s the name of your horse and what’s special about it? I don’t own one

but I will be the happiest person in the world the day I buy my own horse.





Originally from New Zealand and Abu Dhabi Resident Name: Zoe Thomson Age: 27 What’s your passion? I am pas-

sionate about sports and exercise in general and so I am at my happiest when I am running around working up a sweat! I think it is really important to exercise regularly for both physical and mental wellbeing and I love to do this through active pursuits as much as possible rather than slogging away in the gym.  While running and strength training are an important part of keeping fit, there are so many other amazing ways to crosstrain.  My real passions are surfing, mountain biking and skiing and travelling in pursuit of these. Here in the UAE I have really become a fan of stand-up paddle boarding which is a lot of fun, a great work out and really versatile. Add this to a camping trip to Fujairah and a hike through a wadi and you have the ingredients for a perfect weekend!

Where & how do you usually train? I try and train outside as much

as possible, especially when I am running. While this means some early mornings during summer, most of the year it is great! I like to run at Yas Island, whether on the track on Tuesdays for Train Yas or around Gateway Park  and the surrounding areas, the Corniche and around the community where I live. I like to mix up longer runs, with interval training and also the odd sprint session. Other than running, I try to incorporate a couple of circuit or strengthening sessions into the week and I also swim and bike to give the knees a rest!

The season is about to start, do you have any tips and tricks for other runners and outdoor enthusiasts? For

runners - I think mixing up your training with different sessions is great. If you do the same run all the time your body gets accustomed to that and your training isn't as effective. Also, entering events is great way to give your motivation a kick and to feel the satisfaction of achieving something. For everyone else - just do it!! There are so many sports on offer in the UAE and so many great events and races. If you like the look of something, give it a try or enter a race and don't make excuses! Taking the first


step is the hardest and from there you'll never look back!

Will you participate to any running competitions this season? First up is the

ADNIC Yas Run on November 26thH. The Yas Marina Circuit is an amazing facility with a great surface for running and better yet, you can train there every week for free! After that I am hoping to take part in some running and triathlon events throughout the tri season, building up to the Abu Dhabi triathlon next year.

Where is your favorite place to run in the UAE?

The beach in front of JBR or Sunset Beach in Dubai. Nothing beats a run along the beach and a dip in the ocean afterwards!  Zoe.

Organised by:

OfďŹ cial hotel:


Absolute seclusion!....apart from the occasional visitor!

Laura's Location

Al Maha a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa

Immerse yourself in the outdoor pleasures of Al Maha,

as opposed to the whiter calcium rich sand of Abu Dhabi or the blackish magnesium specks which are evident of Sharja”. Hilary continues to say, “The Bedouins used these colours to navigate their way through the desert, almost like their own inbuilt GPS”!

I have to say if there is one thing you must experience whilst living in the UAE, you MUST spend a weekend at the Al Maha Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa! In fact, no excuses! Spend a weekend here and you will be deafened by the sounds of nature, delighted by wild orynx’s visiting your front door, mentally charged as you learn the intriguing secrets of the Arabian Desert and tickled with joy as you let your imagination run wild with every outdoor experience!

As I have said many times before, life is about experiences and what sort of experience, prey tell, is a trip to the desert without

a magical hideaway nestled in the dramatic dune landscapes, only a 45 minute meander from Dubai.

To be honest I am a lover of imagination, so when asked whether I would like to do a sunrise horse ride, followed by a spot of archery, I couldn’t help but think ‘Laurence of Arabia’ had just turned female! There I was, 4.30am lying face up, bright eyed and bushy tailed, waiting for my ‘wake up’ call at 5.15am..... early I know...but when you are welcomed with the opportunity to watch the florescent glow of the sun rise over the Hajar Mountains, as you canter across the deserts canvas of awesome magnificence, there is really no shadow of hesitation to rise to the occasion! So equipped with my ‘Rolls Royce’ of an Arab beauty, I trotted off into the sunrise,


finding it very difficult to not quote the Irish blessing “May the wind always be at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face”..... whether I was “Laura of Arabia” or some teleported Irish galavanter... one thing for sure, I was in a pure state of bliss! Al Maha is situated amongst 200 hectares of Conservation Park. A weekend here will take you on a journey far away from the city life of Dubai, swapping the glittering lights of the city skyscrapers for the minimalist beauty of nature and the outdoors. It is here, as you ride on horseback that you learn the ancient secrets of the Bedouin’s past. How was it that they navigated their way through this endless sea of sand? Or, how did they warm themselves on an icy, cloudless winter night? Hilary, our South African tour guide, one of which is privately assigned to each guest, was always quick to respond. “Due to its mineral content, the colour of the sand varies subtly from emirate to emirate,” she says. “The rich red colour represents the high concentration of iron oxide in Dubai,

Sunset Camel Safaris

an intense pursuit of good old fashioned archery rivalry! Now, unfortunately for me, had Robin Hood still been alive, Brett my rival, would have most certainly caused him to retreat cowardly in the face of outstanding competition! With his bow cocked and a devilishly fierce look in his eyes, it was not hard to tell who would be granted the winning prize of a massage for hitting the bullseye first!....

“....had Robin Hood still been alive, Brett my rival, would have most certainly caused him to retreat cowardly in the face of outstanding competition!”

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Preparing for my magical experience of ‘Laura of Arabia’!

What was my most treasured moment? Well, after horse riding and faring against Robin’s rival...I didn’t think things could get much better. That was until I experienced the magic of lying on top of my own private sand dune, positioned directly in front of my suite. Watching the intense brilliance of the diamonds in the sky, the cool breeze tickling my skin and the whispering sounds of that moment, I knew this enriching experience would be with me for a lifetime. luckily for me, Al Maha is not only a luxury award winning resort, but also an exquisitely divine Spa!.... Thus I was relieved to know that it was not me who would be putting my hands to work later that afternoon, rather I knew the talented staff of Timeless Spa would do a much better job! After all, when there are things to do, places to see, animals to observe, one cannot be enslaved to the consequences of being a poor shot!:)

‘buck’ of a car and the squeals of delight, (and admittedly sometimes fright) of the passengers, we experienced a memorable adventure of gallivanting amongst the rugged beauty of the dunes!

As you are beginning to see, if you are a lover of nature, understated luxury and outdoor pursuits then Al Maha is a must! Whether it be a special occasion or simply because you need your dose of ‘nature’, a visit to Al Maha enters you Next on the agenda, was a rollercoaster ride in the dunes, where we experienced into the secret pleasures of the outdoor sightseeing Arabia style! For this we had to world. Time here runs differently. From the moment you awake from your private suite, furnished with “a visit to Al Maha enters you into the secret original and rare collections of regional artwork and antiques, pleasures of the outdoor world.” the presence of culture and nature penetrate your every waking breath. Whether you are learning head out of the boundary fence of Al Maha about the Bedouins ancient survival as it is illegal to 4WDrive in the conservatechniques or expressing your creative tion park. Now whilst my morning had flair with the artist’s easel and rainbow been spent imbibing on some centuries old, of colours provided for each suite, it is but timeless activities, I was now ready to here that you discover the romance and experience the fusion of nature and man’s seduction of the Arabian Desert. advanced creations! ..... followed very closely by the incredible expertise of our A tribute to traditional life, Al Maha driver!.... I am quick to mention our driver wraps you in its natural charms, and Hilary’s skills, as I am quite confident that if whisks you away to a world of dreamy you added me to the mix of enormous dunes and eternal repose. and a robust car, it’s safe to say we would not have moved very far! But lucky for us, equipped with an incredible driver, a young


Fast Facts

Distance: 45minutes drive from Dubai

Located within: Dubai Desert Conse rvation Reserve (DDCR) GPS: It is advised to ask for a location


Activities: Horse riding, nature walk, sun downer camel safaris, archery, desert safaris, falconry (Guests can select up to two different complimentary activities every day as part of their stay.) Timeless Spa: Located within the resort is an incredible spa retreat – massage or treatment is highly recommended! Phone: +971 4 832 9900

LAURA KATE SNOOK is a personal trainer who creates contemporary workout videos blending a unique fusion of resistance, balance, fitball & dynamic yoga. Download or stream from



Great outings for the ths Summer Mon

Jebel Shams in Oman

Many people may think that

getting outdoors, and especially camping, in the summer is just not an option…well they would be wrong. Across the border in Oman, in the Hajar mountain range, Jebel Shams and Jebel Akhdar both offer opportunities for camping in the hottest months of the year. Jebel Shams (The Mountain of The Sun) is the highest mountain in Oman, at about 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) high. This means that even if it's a sweltering 45°C at the base, by the time you make it to the end of the road, there's usually about a 20 degree difference and it even gets chilly at night. The tarmac road leads to a viewpoint with some pretty spectacular views down into Wadi an Nakhur, which is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of Oman.  The drive from the border crossing in Al Ain (Jebel Hafeet / Mezyad border post) to the base of Jebel Shams usually takes a bit under three hours including the border crossing. Once through the border be sure to fill up with fuel as it is cheaper in Oman and the frequency of stations lessens. Take the immaculate two lane highway in the direction of Ibri, and once you get there, a good pit stop is the small Rainbow café on the

roundabout which signposts the way to Salalah. This little café arguably makes the best egg paratha sandwiches in town (N 23° 12.947’ E 056° 29.475’). The less adventurous may prefer to indulge in a Biryani at the Ibri Oasis Hotel, which also provides clean and adequate accommodation, and is a good place to stay on a Thursday evening if you decide to get a head start on the drive to Jebel Shams. (Tel: 25689955 – one of the first buildings on the left as you reach Ibri.) On leaving Ibri, keep a look out to your right for the ruins of the old town of Al Sulaif, perched on the edge of a small cliff overlooking the wadi. There is a small turn off to the ruins at the point at which the main road goes down to one lane. It’s a good place to explore in the winter months, but give it a miss if you’re passing by during the midday heat of the summer. Beware of some creative driving habits on this Ibri to Niwza stretch of the road, and take care when overtaking, as the undulations in the road can sometime hide whole lorries coming towards you. Once you reach Jibreen, if you have time, visit the beautiful Jibreen castle, which is signposted from the main road. Constructed in 1670 and once a centre of power and knowledge in the region, its intricate woodwork and colourful ceilings illustrate the prosperity derived from the falaj system, which enabled the inhabitants to develop agriculture and industry many miles from the original source of water in the surrounding mountains (N 22° 54.931’ E 057° 14.969’). The fort is closed on Fridays, but the clean bathroom facilities are usually left open, and the trees in the car park offer shade for a quick picnic. Rejoin the main road and continue in the direction of Bahla. Fabled by some to be a centre for black magic, the colossal Bahla fort is a far more tangible attraction. The fort is a World Heritage Site and the restoration process, which has been underway since 1993, looks close to completion.


The clay rich soils which are found on the plains surrounding the Western Hajar Mountains formed the base of one of the region’s main industries, which was pottery. Nowadays Bahla is one of the few towns where the pottery industry is still relatively active, and if you venture into the side streets opposite the fort you may come across one of the few remaining workshops. A Bahla produced incense burner or hanging water jar (jahlah) would make an authentic souvenir of your visit. Take the next major left turn after Bahla, which is signposted “Al Hamra, Wadi Ghul and Jebel Shams”. The road goes past the turn off to the Al Hoota Caves, which offer trips into a large underground cavern via tram (tram not always functioning), and then look out for the petrol station on the outskirts of Al Hamra, where you should make a left turn onto the Jebel Shams road. If you were to continue through Al Hamra, and take the road up the mountain in front of you, you will come to Misfat Al Abriyyin. Misfat is a stunning small village nestled in its rich green date plantations, laced with an intricate falaj system. Unfortunately, as a result of irresponsible tourists tramping through the village, visitors have sometime received an unusually hostile reception. There is a viewpoint in the car park opposite the village, where the best photographs can be made without disturbing the inhabitants. Continuing towards Jebel Shams from the petrol station in Al Hamra, you will come to the first significant bend in the road after about 9 kilometres. Keep your eyes peeled for the abandoned village of Ghul on the opposite side of the wadi. Built from the same rocks as the mountainside it stands on,

it’s easy to miss this little picturesque gem. If you have the energy to explore the ruins, there are some trees in the wadi which provide a little shade for parking. This is also the start of a footpath which leads up to Al Khitaym on the Jebel Shams plateau (a four hour ascent).

Once you reach the first plateau, you will already notice a drop in temperature. Small barasti shelters offer shady pit stops, and sometimes house the rug salesmen and women which are intrinsic to the character of Jebel Shams. The sheep and goats which you will see hopping across the rocks are the source for the main component of the rug weaving industry, with wild mountain indigo and the skin of pomegranates traditionally producing the dye. The dense wood of the wild olive trees (sidr) is ideal for the manufacture of the tools and looms required in the weaving process. If you are lucky, you may experience one of the not so infrequent summer rainstorms. These heavy downpours, often characterised by bouts of thunder and lightning, although welcome, can also be treacherous, and it is important to stay out of wadis and obvious water courses and quickly reach higher ground if you even suspect it has been raining further up the mountain, or if it looks like rain is on the way. There have been numerous cases of ill-informed tourists being swept to their deaths by walls of water which race through the wadis after rainfall.

The final small ascent brings you to the canyon edge and the end of the expedition. Hold onto children and pets when approaching the viewpoint, as the edge of the sheer cliff is sometimes badly defined.

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Not long after the village of Ghul the road begins its ascent of Jebel Shams, with an initial section of hairpin bends. Although it is a tarmac road all the way up, it is worth checking your brakes, and ensuring that you know how to engage four wheel drive on your car, before you tackle the mountain.


You may also like to consider continuing up Wadi an Nakhur to admire the sheer rock faces which make up the Grand Canyon of Oman. The track becomes narrow in parts, with only a small turning area in the village at the end, and therefore this is not a route for groups of more than three cars.

Keep following the tarmac road across the plateau and up the second steep ascent. A second small plateau offers mediocre camping opportunities, but is the start of the summit trek for those adventurous enough to scale the mountain on foot.

Unsurprisingly, given the climate, the plateau is well inhabited, and may find yourself being the focal point of an impromptu gathering of persistent entrepreneurs, determined to sell you a rug or key ring. However, if you set off on your explorations in a purposeful manner, you may escape with at least a few Omani Rials left in your wallet. Unless you are one of the rare breed of Middle East campers who is willing to shoulder their tent and supplies and hike to a nice spot, the large plateaus on Jebel Shams mean that you will find it difficult to find a secluded camping spot. Nevertheless, only the goats are likely to disturb you if you pitch tent within view of the road on the lower plateau. The Jebel Shams Motel, which is a little past the Grand Canyon viewpoint on the main road, offers camping spaces and bathroom facilities, and is a good alternative if you want to enjoy the pleasant weather on the mountain for at least one night. Make your descent of the mountain slowly and carefully, using high gears (one and two) or even low range on the steeper sections. You should be able to tackle the steepest sections in low range, barely touching your brakes.

Top Tips and Notes This is a long trip from Dubai or Abu Dhabi. It is worth leaving on a Thursday evening, or taking an extra day off to reduce the amount of driving. Please remember to camp and explore responsibly. Protect the flora and fauna by taking your rubbish home, picking up other people’s rubbish and by staying on the beaten track. If you plan to make a fire, then take your own wood. The mountain climate is very harsh, thus everything has taken a long time to grow,

and the local population harvest the wood and shrubs for their own use. The days usually consist of intensive sunshine, and the nights are often cool. Rain is not unusual. Good sun cream, some warm clothing, and a shelter to camp under (tent or awning) are therefore advisable. Mosquitos can be a nuisance if it has rained. Unlike the desert, finding a flat, rock free spot in which to pitch a tent can be challenging. When camping in the mountains many people opt to sleep in the back of the car, or on camping beds. A rooftop tent is of course the most luxurious option, and is favoured by those who camp on a regular basis. Due to the nature of the terrain it’s often not easy to find a large camping spot in the mountains. It is therefore advisable to travel in smaller groups, of a maximum of three or four cars. If your car has a small fuel tank you may wish to take a jerry can of petrol. It is not unusual for petrol stations to run out of supplies in Oman. Remember to take your passport, car registration papers and valid Oman car insurance. Check whether you need to apply for an Omani visa in advance. Cameron Cairns.


s y a w h t Pa to

Activity by Ian Ganderton

First off I’m going to look at sea kayaking. When I first arrived here 2 years ago one of the first ‘activities’ we did was to go out in sea kayaks in the Umm Al Quwain mangroves. I remember that paddle well, I’d never had a huge ray sweep under my sea kayak before, its seals that do that in North Wales! I’d also not paddled over the top of a coral reef looking like an aquarium before or seen turtles pop their heads around me either. Later that week Phil showed me Musandam on Google Earth and I could immediately see the potential. A few months later and we were having a fantastic multi day adventure that included a world-class sea kayaking venue (Musandam) and paperless deportation (but that’s another story). So sea kayaking…


A kayak is a small boat typically for one or 2 people that you sit in or on and propel using a paddle with a blade on each end. A canoe is slightly different in that you typically kneel and use a paddle with only one blade. (Pedantic note – kayakers and canoeists use paddles NOT oars! Oars are attached to a boat and you row with them) Sea kayaking as an activity covers all forms of use of a kayak on the sea from playing at the beach in surf, to exploring mangroves, to multi day journeys covering hundreds of kilometres.


Kayakers reach the places other boats just can’t reach. What other boat can you load, single handed, on to the roof of the smallest car, drive to one of the sea’s many public access points then paddle away for zero cost either to play in the surf, silently explore a wild secluded mangrove, see a local fishing port from the same view point as other sea farers or start a journey into some of the wildest places in the region. A kayaker can take everything they need with them pretty easily too. Be it just a mask and snorkel or all the food and water they need for a multi-day adventure. The beauty is that the boat carries the load too. In the right kayak it’s done silently and efficiently.


Sea Kayaking

In a series of articles I want to look at possible pathways to activity.

Often folks like the idea of kayaking, mountain biking or climbing here in the region but don’t know where to start or what’s available. I want to try and help a bit by pointing out a couple of places to start on a path whether you’re a complete beginner or someone who’s played the game before but is new to the region. 50


Any bit of water deep enough to float their boat can entertain a kayaker for a bit but there are some fantastic destinations to explore here in the region. Most beginners here will probably look to a public beach for starters. Once basic controls have been mastered the sheltered mangroves of Abu Dhabi, Umm Al Quwain and Khor Kalba provide excellent venues to really get to grips with a paddle. Sheltered from the rough open sea but still affected by tides they make a great place to serve the first phases of the kayaker’s apprenticeship. They are also fantastically interesting environments to explore. The step to the open sea is a significant one and not to be taken lightly. Kayaks are small and greatly affected by the powerful elements of wind and tide at work on the open sea. Once understood though you can start to explore the whole coast of the Arabian Peninsula. I had a brilliant paddle around ‘The World’, the Dubai World of course (about 40km and 6 hrs), both the East and

West coasts offer some interesting days out and, of course, Musandam is a world-class treasure trove of sea kayaking adventures. I’m also planning trips this winter to circumnavigate Doha, I’ve recently found out about the The Daymaniyat Islands off the coast north of Muscat and I think Masirah needs a lap around too.


If deep ending your self’s not your kind of approach then another option is to give Noukhada a ring (details via their website They have trips running all the time in both the Adu Dhabi and Umm Al Quwain mangrove areas. Hooking up with them is a good idea in many ways as you’ll also find one of the small communities of kayakers here revolves around them. The help support and advice gained here could save you a lot of time money and hassle that those “death or glory”, “I can do it without any help folks” who just went and brought any old kayak and never really moved away from the beach they knew before anyway.

What do I need?

All you really need to start off with is access to a kayak, a paddle and a PFD. In its essence kayaking is a very simple activity. To start off with, if you don’t have access to one already you can rent. Noukhada offers boat rental as does Adventure HQ in Times Square, Dubai ( They both have a choice of boats including Feel Free’s single and double sit on tops as well as Venture Kayaks excellent Easky range of specialist sit in (or closed cockpit) sea boats. All the rest is normal outdoor stuff for here i.e. sun hat, sun screen, food, water etc…

Knowledge = Safety

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The first time To be honest it’s easy enough to walk into any sports shop here, splash some cash on a sit on top kayak, a paddle and, hopefully, a buoyancy aid (also known as a personal flotation device or PFD), stick the whole lot on the roof of your car, drive to the nearest beach and just do it.


If you keep yourself acclimatised and apply a bit of common sense then kayaking is a year round activity here in the region. The layer of air next to the sea is just that bit cooler and if you do get a bit warm then a dip in the water always helps. For 8 months of the year it is nigh on perfect sea kayaking weather.

loads for multi day expeditions . The sleek, elegant shape, with its DNA from eskimo heritage, is a classic example of “with function comes form”. A long, narrow and stiff hull knifes through the water, while the low deck minimises the effect of the wind. The upswept bow prevents it diving in rough conditions while waterproof hatch covers keep expedition supplies safely stowed. The closed cockpit design enables the kayaker to feel firmly attached to the boat for efficient control as well as providing protection from the elements.

As with any adventurous activity its safer to start slowly and take one step at a time. Take time to learn the basics. Wear a PFD, start in sheltered water, don’t paddle alone, learn to rescue others, learn to rescue yourself, carry appropriate equipment, be responsible and self-sufficient both as an individual and as part of a group, take time to learn the ways of the sea, learn how tides work, check tide times, check weather forecasts and pay heed to them, learn the weather patterns and seek advice if you are not sure of something. Sea kayaking is about adventure, and I hope this article helps you find your pathway to this most excellent vehicle for adventures. Anyone seeking honest free advice and information on sea kayaking in the region can contact me via my blog where, Along with other information, there are also details of some of my previous sea kayaking adventures here. Ian.

Ian has been a kayaker almost all his life and it has taken him all over the world both for work and play. Most of his working life has been spent in the outdoor industry and nowadays works for Global Climbing FZC, regional distributors of Feel Free, Venture, P & H and Pyranha kayaks as well as Werner Paddles, Peak UK PFD’s and Accessories as well as a whole host of other outdoor brands. Trade sales enquiries should be made to

The big problem is finding someone to paddle with. To the best of my knowledge there are no kayak clubs here as yet. Maybe with hire options appearing in Dubai for the first time this may start to change. One of the big decisions you are going to need to make at some point is whether to start using a sit in kayak as opposed to a sit on top kayak. Sit on tops – very accessible fun and stable as well as easy to self-rescue. But they tend to be low performance. Sit in or closed cockpit kayaks have a bit more to learn but once mastered provide much more of a tool enabling you to access and deal with harsher conditions in higher performance hulls. The classic closed cockpit shape is designed to efficiently carry large



a day in the life of a

climbing rope.e: f a s g n i y a st

I was born last year, in a factory

in Europe I’m 60m long and 10.5mm in diameter. I’m a dynamic little thing and will learn quite a few tricks over my lifetime. As I age I expect to get a little fatter and less dynamic but I guess that happens to all of us.

My birth certificate is concealed within my core; imprinted on a little plastic ribbon. I doubt anyone will ever look at it but its there all the same along with my other id details. I’m living in a sealed plastic bag; lying on a shelf in a warehouse in the UAE. It took quite a while to get here on a big ship but my maker ensured I was well looked after; the journey wasn’t so bad. I don’t know how long I’ll be here in the warehouse. The shelf is comfortable and flat, the bag keeps me clean and the room is dark and cool. My maker says I can stay here like this for up to six years. I could then have up to another six years life as a working rope. If I’m lucky

I will have a responsible owner and get to retire much sooner. Maybe in less than a year’s time if I have to work hard, do long hours or get injured. The guy lying next to me was made in far far away land; he is basically the same as me. His manufacturer worked to the same codes of practice as mine and he has all his documents to prove he’s a good guy, yet his life expectancy is less than mine. Don’t ask me why, I don’t get it either. Maybe you could ask his manufacturer or this wholesale guy who’s looking after us. Soon we will be sold, maybe first to a shop


and then to a climber or climbing wall. I hope I only have one owner, I don’t like it when folks pass me around with no regard for my history or life experiences, it’s just not on. I hope my owner looks after me well. I’d like to live in my own bag, in a cool dry room and only come out when it’s time to play. I don’t like the sunlight much and I don’t like all this sand and grit. I quite like a good wash now and again but don’t put those nasty detergents on me, in fact don’t put anything on me, ever, I don’t like it. And please dry me all the way through if you do wash me. Whatever you do don’t abuse me, I’ve heard stories. One rope friend fell into something wet and smelly, nobody knew what it was but it had devastating effect, it rotted away his inside core, he became weak and he eventually broke in two when he was most needed. One of the humans was badly hurt. Another friend was left hanging up on a climbing wall for weeks; it did her no good at all; and at her age too, some people have no regard for us or themselves.

Oh, the lights come on, looks like were off somewhere. I’ve been sold!

What’s Joe doing now? Oh I see he’s putting his harness and helmet on, and who’s that? Katie? Hi Katie, I’m rope how are you? Ah! Looks like Katie’s new to all this. Joe is helping her. This is looking good, the harnesses are on, fitted correctly and adjusted just like the manufacturer recommended. Helmets to. And now they seem to be eyeing each other up, checking each other out, all in the name of safety of course. I’m pleased they are doing these checks, I’m big and strong and stretchy and will do my best to protect them but they need to be sure my knots are rights and everything is as it should be.

Well I’m only a rope what do I know? Joe & Katie decided to climb with both instructors. The first instructor has little experience but specific training backed by good management procedures and record keeping. The second seemed to have a wide experience but was finding it difficult to back up his story and his manager was not much help. Yet he had the qualifications. Joe & Katie have lived for a long time in a region where everything is not always clear. Their experience has taught them to ask questions and analyse the answers before making a decision. Do not be afraid to do the same. Joe will climb first; he’s picked a nice easy warm up route. Katie will belay for Joe.

Before climbing together as friends, Katie and Joe had lessons with instructors at a two local climbing walls. Then a couple of lessons outdoors on real rock. Selecting the instructors was difficult. Joe liked the pretty girl at one place but Katie preferred the rugged guy at another. In the end they climbed with both but not before asking a few questions, including a few cheeky ones. Like, Katie asked the guy for copies of his qualifications, who trained him, when he was trained, does his company keep records. The instructor said he was trained here at the place he works by some guys who came in especially to train him. The instructor’s manager showed Katie copies of the in-house or site specific training certificates. The manager also explained

Joe is tying a knot in me, I like Knots. Oh, it’s a figure eight about a meter from my end and Katie’s doing the same on the other end. Joe’s threading the end through the tie in loops in his harness, now he’s rethreading the figure eight and finishing the knot with a half a fisherman’s or stopper knot. Joe learned this by studying the harness manufactures instructions and practising it with his instructors. Katie hasn’t tied into the loose for this climb, a decision she made through evaluating the current climbing scenario. Katie has tied a figure eight in my loose end and left it on the floor, a good practice I like that. Katie is putting Joe on belay. Ok Joe are you ready to climb Katie asks, yes says Joe I’m ready to climb. And there they are at it again eyeing each other up. Now Katie is lifting Joes shirt, sorry just checking your harness. And now she’s eyeing me up! But all the name of safety, check, check, check each other out. For that matter check out anyone who is hanging around maybe they are doing the same for you. It’s not a bad habit. Next time we meet maybe I’ll tell you about my friends Static and the Skinny Twins, we have some things in common, like we are all ropes but we have quite different jobs. Simon.

Bye for now, if you have any questions or would like to use me for an

Best SHots

Oh, er, yes, yes I’m been uncoiled, that’s it yes get all those twists out, make sure I’m flaked out nicely, no knot’s or twists. Looks like we’re going climbing.

At the second venue it was Joe asking the questions. Hey dude how long you been climbing? Where’s your favourite mountain. The instructor says he’s been climbing for five years; he loves to climb in Greece, has climbed in the Alps and has British climbing qualifications. The manager says he has a copy of the instructors SPA and CWA certificates but knows little about the guy as he’s new here. No, he hasn’t done any training with us but he’s been teaching a long time in other places.


Well this is all well and good. Joe my new owner seems like a good guy and he’s taking care of me nicely. I’m Joe’s first rope. I don’t have my own bag yet, I’m sharing with harness and helmet. Joe’s wife doesn’t like shoes (there’s a first) and says they can’t live with us in the bedroom, they stink. I don’t think shoes would harm us but I don’t know where they’ve been walking and I’m quite happy we don’t share with them.

who had carried out the training and what international codes of practice had been followed. Katie was happy. Joe said yes but the guy’s only ever worked here and has little other experience. Katie retorted well he’s had no chance to pick up bad habits then has he.

hour two contact the guys at www. They offer beginners and advanced courses in rock climbing, hold the required certification, backed up with years of experience recorded in logbooks and are happy to answer all your questions. Top tips for keeping safe at a climbing wall or outdoor crag. •

Buy new equipment and look after it

Follow the manufactures guidelines

Ensure you harness and helmet is fitted correctly.

Ensure you are tied into the rope correctly

Check yourself and check your partner

Check yourself and check your partner again!

If you hire an instructor ask questions, don’t be afraid to ask to see qualification or training certificates. Ask about the instructors experience and background. If in doubt walk away.

If you hire equipment it should look new and be in good condition. Any doubts don’t use it.

If you have any question concerning anything above Arabia Outdoors has a technical advisor willing to answer your questions.

Please note. Joe & Katie are fictitious names picked at random, theie characters or actions are not based upon anyone. Please do not take anything from this article and use it in place of proper guidelines or instructions. Contact details, Simon Cahill, Arabia Outdoors FZE, email website www. tel. +971 (0)55 9556209


Are Climbing Walls Safe?

The first ASC were developed in the 1960s by northern England recreational rock climbers as preparation for the occasional rain free day of outdoor rock climbing. By the mid 1980s ASC production had moved from “do it yourself” to professional companies. The wider European and American public, attracted by “adventure extreme sport” rock climbing with its new indoor urban accessibility, embraced it to the point that ASC use became trendy. The first standards for ASC were produced in Europe in December 1998, EN 12572: 1998. This addressed engineering design, testing requirements and protection points. Operation of walls was not standardised and there was no requirement for instructors or supervisors to be formally qualified. By the end of the 1990s, market research in UK concluded that some 420,000 people per month were climbing on ASC, with many making multiple visits. ASC were being installed in multitude of locations including climbing gyms, sports halls, in schools and colleges; each of these location types having a different design criteria and mode of operation to support the needs of the user. This participation increase and user demographic was replicated across Europe and the United States. At the same time manufactures and operators of ASC formed trade associations

In UK, during the period 2005 – 2007, there was significant Government legislation that clarified duty of care responsibilities in regards to ASC. The Working At Height Regulations 2005 explicitly exempted ASC from industrial regulations in regards to ASC operator responsibility for management of user risk. Indoor climbing was recognised as an Adventurous Activity where risk was an intrinsic activity component. The owners and operators of ASC had a responsibility to manage the risks to users to as low as reasonably practicable and whilst no risk was acceptable, risk had to be tolerated for participation in ASC activities to retain their fundamental adventurous appeal. The owners and operators retained responsibility to maintain risk assessments and inform potential users of the residual risks; user activity participation being subject to the user accepting those risks. Instruction was to be conducted in accordance to nationally accepted good practice for the sport (ie, what the Mountain Leader Training Boards taught on their train-

So are climbing walls safe? Potentially their use is low risk providing the relevant standards for design, construction and testing have been followed, risk assessment are in place, competent supervision on site and, most importantly, users are aware and accept that there is a real risk of injury from participation in climbing activities. ASC, with climate control, skinny frappe latté to hand and rubber floors could be perceived as a risk free sanitised environment; but whilst there are humans involved, irrespective of training and experience, mistakes can and will be made. The British Mountaineering Council succinctly states in its participation statement, “The BMC recognises that climbing, hill walking and mountaineering are activities with a danger of personal injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions”.

Irrespective of the recent accident circumstances; the injured climbers are wished a speedy and full recovery. Pete.

Pete Aldwinckle is the Technical Director of Global Climbing, regional representative of Walltopia Climbing Walls and an active climber for over 35 years, 8 in the UAE, a holder of Mountain Instructor Award and has been involved with the development and implementation of UK instructor climbing instructor qualifications and major share holder of medium sized UK climbing centre since 1992.



with a shared goal of increasing safety whilst lobbying against potential legislative erosion of the fundamental ethos behind recreational climbing activities. A potential risk was seen that climbing on artificial walls would not be viewed as an adventure sport and would be pigeon holed with fairgrounds and playgrounds. These organisations have been successful and sport climbing is now short listed for potential inclusion in the 2020 summer Olympics.

In 2008, EN 12752 was revised and expanded to reflect industry expansion and development to include bouldering walls and climbing holds. There were additions to the original standard that ensured many potential operational risks such as safety distances are designed out of ACS. These standards have been adopted very widely and can be viewed as a de-facto international standard, United States excluded.

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With the recent widely reported accidents at two of Dubai’s climbing walls (Artificial Climbing Structures, ASC, to give the correct industry terminology) this would appear to be a rhetorical question. These accidents generated significant press coverage and comment in social media. Almost inevitably, in the heat of the moment and high passions, some comment was inaccurate or skewed and misplaced. This article aims to give the open minded and discerning reading a wider understanding of the risk management of ASC in order that they can draw their own conclusions on ASC use risks. The UK/European ASC experience will be examined as a mature model that has been subject to significant legal scrutiny.

ing schemes). Many walls retain Mountain Instructor Award qualified personal as technical advisors to evaluate staff competencies. This legislation remains extant today.

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Equipment Global Climbing, +97172353910, Adventure HQ, Dubai Times Square Center, Sheikh Zayed Rd, Toll free: 800-ADVENTURE Services Absolute Adventure, Dubai, +97143459900, Adventure HQ, Dubai Times Square Center, Sheikh Zayed Rd, Toll free: 800-ADVENTURE Arabia Outdoors, Dubai, +971559556209, Dorell Sports Management, Dubai World Trade Centre, +97143065061, E-Sports Dubai, Dubai, The Club, Abu Dhabi, +97126731111,


Equipment Cycle Sports, Dubai, Al Barsha1, +97143415415, Probike, Dubai, Al Barsha1, +97143255705, Rage Shop, Dubai Mall, +97144343806, Ride Bike Shop, Dubai Mall, Festival City, Oasis Centre, Mirdiff City Centre, +97143750231, Wolfi’s Bike Shop, Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, +97143394453, Clubs Abu Dhabi Tri Club, Dubai Roadsters,


Equipment Al Boom Marine, Abu Dhabi & Dubai+97142894858 , Gulf Marine Sports, Abu Dhabi, +97126710017, Premiers for Equipment, Abu Dhabi, Sh. Zayed 1st. Road, +97126665226, Scuba Dubai, Dubai, +97143414940, Diving Centers 7 Seas Diving Center, Khorfakkan, +97192387400, Al Boom Diving (equipment), Dubai, Al Wasl Rd, + 97143422993, Al Mahara Dive Center, Downtown Abu Dhabi, +971501118125, Arabian Diver, Hilton Marine, Ras Al Khaimah, +97172226628, +971502428128

Fishing & Kayaking

Equipment Al Boom Marine, Abu Dhabi & Dubai+97142894858 , Al Masaood Marine, +97143468000, Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, Barracuda Fishing Shop, Dubai Sheikh Zayed Road, Abu Dhabi bound, after Safa Park Exit, +97143466558, Global Climbing, Ras Al Khaimah, +97172353910, Leisure Marine Beach Hut, Dubai, The Walk JBR, +97144243191 Leisure Marine, Sheikh Zayed Road, next to ACE Hardware, +97143415530, Leading Edge-S, +97172447732, Nautica1992, Dubai, +971504262415, Ocean Active, Dubai, Garden Centre, +971502898713, Operators Al Boom Diving, Le Meridien

Arabian Divers, Al Bateen Marina Resort, +971506146931, Www. Arabia Outdoors, Dubai, +971559556209, Barracuda Diving Centre, Fujairah International Marine Club, +9719222558 Belevari Marine, Abu Dhabi,+97126594144 Fun Beach Water Sports, Dubai, +97153244550, Happy Days Sea Cruising LLC, Dubai, +971558961276, +971503960202, Noukhada Adventure Company, Villa 332/7, Al Meena Street, Abu Dhabi, +97126503600,

Ocean Active, Dubai, Garden Centre, +971502898713, Sheesa Beach, Dibba, Musandam, +971503336046, Soolyman Sports Fishing, Dubai, Umm Suqeim, +971508866227, Xclusive Yachts, Dubai, Dubai Marina, +97144327233,

General Sports Equipment Distributors

Adventure HQ, Dubai Times Square Center, Sheikh Zayed Rd, Toll free: 800-ADVENTURE, Flip Flop Arabia,, Global Climbing, +97172353910, Goal Zero, +971509128353, www. Ocean Sports FZE, +971559352735, Sakeen General Trading, +97147094224,

Best SHots

Jumeirah Beach Hotel P.O. Box 11416, Dubai, UAE Email: Tel: +971 4 406 8828 Web:

Al Aqah Beach Resort, Fujeirah, +97143422993 Absolute Adventure, Dubai, +97143459900, Al Hamra Marina, Al Hamra, +97172434540 Al Mahara Dive Center, Abu Dhabi, Mussafah, +971501118125, +97150720283


PADI Career Development Centre

Arabian Divers, Al Bateen Marina Resort, +971506146931 Atlantis Dive Centre (equipment), Dubai, The Palm Jumeirah,+97144263000, Deep Blue Sea Diving, Dubai, International City, +97144308246, Divers Down, Fujairah, Rotana Al Aqah Hotel Resort & Spa, +971092370299, Emirates Divers Centre, Abu Dhabi, near Meena Fish Market, +97126432444, Extra Divers Ziggy Bay, Oman, Musandam, +96826735555, Freediving UAE,Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Fujeirah, Freestyle Divers, Dubai, Al Wasl & Dibba, Royal Beach Hotel, +97143944275, Khasab Divers, Oman, Muscat Diving & Adventure Centre, Oman, +97150 3289642, Neptune Diving, +97150 4347902, Nomad Ocean Adventures,, +971508853238, Dibba, Oman Scuba Oman, Oman, +96899558488, Sharjah Wanderers Dive Club, Sharjah, +97150 784 0830, Sheesha Beach, Dibba, Musandam, +971503336046, Sky &Sea Adventures, Dubai, Hilton, Jumeirah Beach Road, +97143999005, The Pavilion Dive Centre (equipment), Dubai, +97144068828 Clubs Atlantis Underwater Photography Club, Dubai, +97144263000 Desert Sports Diving Club, Dubai,

Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club Opposite Arabian Ranches P.O.Box 7477, Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 4 361 8111 Fax: +971 4 361 7111 Email:

Horse Riding

Equipment Emirta, Dubai, Sheik Zayed Rd, +9714 3437475, Equestrian Centres Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Abu Dhabi, +97124455500, Al Forsan Resort, Abu Dhabi, +97125568555, Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, Dubai, Arabian Ranches, +97143618111, Desert Equestrian Club, Dubai, near Mirdif +971503099770, +971501978888 Desert Ranch (Al Sahra Desert Resort), Dubai, +971 4 8327171, Emirates Equestrian Centre, Dubai, +971505587656, Ghantood Polo & Racing Club, Abu Dhabi, +97125629050, Sharjah Polo & Equestrian Club, Sharjah, Al Dhaid Road, +97165311155, The Desert Ranch, Dubai, +97144274055 www.desert-ranch. com

Jet Ski

Dealer Al Masaood Marine, Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, +97143468000, Al Yousuf Motors, Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Rd, Rentals Al Mahara Dive Center, Abu Dhabi, Mussafah, +97150720283 , Fun Beach Water Sports, Dubai, +971 5 3244 550, The Cove Rotana Resort, Ras Al Khaimah, +9717206000, Xventures, Dubai, +971555404500,

Moto-cross & ATV’s

Dealer Al Yousuf Motors, Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Rd, KTM, Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, exit



Clubs ABRasAC, Dubai, Abu Dhabi Tri Club, Abu Dhabi, Mirdiff Milers, Dubai,


Stand up Paddling, Kite & Surfing, Wakeboarding

42, +9714323151, PolarisUAE (atv’s), Ras Al Khor, Nad al Hamar Road, Al Ghandi Complex, +97142896100, Liberty Kawasaki, Dubai, Interchange4, Sheikh Zayed Road, 04-3419341, Wild X, Dubai, Um Al Ramoul Industrial Area, +97142852200, www. Equipment Desert Road Tourism, Al Khor Plaza – 503, Dubai, +97142959428, 2XWheeler, Motorcity Dubai, +97144548388, SebSports, Dubai, Al Quoz Industrial Area 3, +97143393399, Wild X, Dubai, Um Al Ramoul Industrial Area, +97142852200, www.


Distributors & Dealers Al Yousuf Motors, Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Rd, Duseja Motorcycles, Dubai, Al Quoz, +97143476712, Liberty Kawasaki, Dubai, Interchange4, Sheikh Zayed Road, +97142822144, PolarisUAE, Al Ghandi Complex, Nad al Hamar Road, Ras Al Khor,

Aloft Abu Dhabi

ADNEC Exhibition Centre Abu Dhabi, P.O. Box 94943 Tel: +971 (0)2 654 5000


+97142896100, Tristar Motorcycles, +97143330659, Workshop & Services 2xWheeler, +97144548388, Dune Bike, Dubai, Al Khail Road Alweer, +97143272088, Duseja Motorcycles, Dubai, Al Quoz, +97143476712, Gecko Motors, Dubai, Al Quoz, +97143413550,

Equipment Al Boom Marine, Abu Dhabi & Dubai+97142894858 , Leisure Marine Beach Hut, Dubai, The Walk JBR, +97144243191 Leisure Marine, Sheikh Zayed Road, next to ACE Hardware, +97143415530, Pearl Water Crafts, Dubai Marina Yacht Club, +971553749398, Surf Dubai, Dubai, Umm Suqeim, +971505043020, Surf Shop Dubai, Dubai, Al Raha Bldg, Al Barsha 1, +97143990989, UAE Kite Surfing, +971505626383, Distributor Ocean Sports FZE, +971559352735, Operator Al Forsan Resort, Abu Dhabi, +97125568555, Dubai Kite Surf School, Dubai, Umm Suqeim Beach, +971 504965107,


Al Forsan Resort, Abu Dhabi, +97125568555, Dubai Autodrome, Dubai, Emirates Motorplex, Umm Al Quwain, +97167681717 Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi,

On the move to explore


Manufacturer LRC Off Road Engineering, Dubai, +971553198526, Repair and services Off Road Zone, Dubai, Al Quoz, +97143392449, Equipment AEV, Dubai & Abu Dhabi, +97143307152, Icon Auto, Dubai, +97143382744, Wild X Adventure Shop, Dubai, Um AL Ramoul, +971509029800, Yellow Hat, Dubai, Times Square Centre & Festival City, +97143418592, Tour Operator Desert Road Tourism, Al Khor Plaza – 503, Dubai, +971-42959428, Arabian Adventures, Dubai & Abu Dhabi, +97143034888, Oasis Palm Dubai, Dubai, +97142628889, Clubs Abu Dhabi Off- Road Club, Filipino Off- Road Club, ME 4X4,

Outbound Adventure Travel. Find out more about Rahhalah and the fascinating journeys we offer on

Tel: +9714 4472166

Email: Kite Fly, Dubai, +971502547440, Kite4fun, Abu Dhabi, +971508133134, Nautica1992, Dubai, +971504262415, Shamalkitesurfing, Umm Suqueim Beach – Dubai, +971507689226, Sky &Sea Adventures, Dubai, Hilton, Jumeirah Beach Road, +97143999005, Surf Adventures UAE, Dubai, Al Barsha1, +97143990989, Surf School Dubai, Umm Suqeim & Al Barsha, Dubai, +97143990989,

ADRENALINE. PASSION. GLORY Email: Tel: 800skydive or contact: 0971503488802 Web: Location: marina behind the Habtoor Grand Hotel

Clubs Abu Dhabi Stand Up Paddle

Water Parks

Aquaventure Atlantis, Dubai, Palm Jumeirah, +97144260000, Dreamland Aqua Park, Umm Al Quwaim, Emirates Road, +97167681888, Wild Wadi, Dubai, +97143484444,

Other leisure activities

Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Abu Dhabi, + 97125588990, Dolphin Bay Atlantis Dubai, +97144260000, Dubai Dolphinarium Dubai, Creek Park Gate No. 1, +97143369773, Ifly Dubai, Dubai, Mirdiff City Centre, +97142316292, Sadiyaat Beach Club, Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island, +97125578000, Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club, Sharjah, +97143999005, SkiDubai, Dubai, Mall of The Emirates, +97144094000, Spacewalk Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, +97124463653,

Health, Safety & Training

Safety Lessons Marine Concept Yacht Charter & Sea School, Rania Business Centre, Dubai, +971559603030, Safety & Leisure Training Middle East, Dusseldorf Business Point, Al Barsha 1, Dubai, +97144502418, Sport & Health Centres The Physio Center, Suite 405, Building 49, Dubai Healthcare City, Dubai, +97144370570,

To advertise please e-mail: or call: 04 44 72 701

OutdoorUAE - Oct 2011  

OutdoorUAE - Oct 2011

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