Dunes of Abu Dhabi, UAE

Camels Sneeze Too

 "Star Wars and Dune Buggies"

During my weekend in the UAE for my uncles' Arabian Horse Race, not all of our activities were soirées and cocktail parties. One afternoon, two off-road Jeeps picked up my family and I from our resort and drove us 30 minutes into the desert.

Our tour guide-driver pointed out an inconspicuous spot where, he said, JJ Abrams filmed the desert scene of the newest Star Wars movie. Our guide, in fact, was Abrams' personal body guard during the UAE filming of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

JJ Abrams' UAE Body Guard

Once we hit the dunes, the real fun began; we raced up steep dunes and crashed over the top, sliding down the other side, propelled even faster than gravity would have taken us by the huge wheels on the jeep. The thrill of scaling 80 degree dunes was amazing! It felt like we were on a roller coaster, except that the jeep wasn't secured onto a rail; we were utterly free to flip at any moment.

This was all good and fun, but unfortunately, my family gets motion sick very easily. I'm not sure that the driver understood the concept of motion sickness. We had to stop several times to get out of the car preparing to dry-heave into the powdery orange sand. Luckily, none of us had to be sick and we made it to the desert camp safely, just in time to calm our stomachs with Arabic Sprite.

Persian Dinner
Our desert camp was a large square area blocked in by tents on the edges and covered in Persian rugs, low tables, and huge floor pillows. While dinner was prepared, we surfed the dunes just outside the camp, took camel rides, and got henna tattoos in one of the tents. Our tattoos mirrored the designs Emirati women decorate themselves with before their wedding. 

Sunset Camel Ride
If you look closely, you can see my mom standing at the top of the hill, still deciding if she actually wants to surf down.

Cousins Brianna, Brittany, and Me Dune Surfing
After all the camel rides, dune surfing, and belly-dancing, we were so tired that we slept the whole way home. Luckily, our guide took us on the straight road back to the hotel. We had to get up early the next day to go visit the horses at the track.

Paddy's Day, Scott Powell's Horse

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