Welcome to the lush wonderfulness of the Middle East. If you look closely at the picture above you can somewhat make out Qatar's trees...which grow to an impressive 5 inches. On one of our days off, a friend suggested we contact Arabian Adventures - a guided tour through Qatar's wilderness which takes place in the southeastern portion of Qatar on the outskirts of a small city known as Mesaieed. The tour starts and ends driving sideways on towering sand dunes with the driver laughing at his passengers as they may or may not be seconds from death.
The daunting Nissan Patrol isn't sold in the United States. To prepare for dune excursions the driver let out an unmeasured amount of air in each tire. To add even more warm fuzziness to the situation, the driver let us know he only does this (dune driving) two weeks a year. "Don't worry, my friend!" followed by more laughing.Read More
The first stop was a ridge overlooking an area flooded by high tide. The driver waited in the car and we were on our way in ten minutes. After more clinging to the seats and seatbelts for life, we arrived atop another dune.
The next stop was more interesting, signaled by the driver getting out of the car this time. The landmass in the back of this picture is Saudi Arabia. The driver explained this fact to us while staring longingly in it's direction. The grass is always greener on the other side...unless, of course, there is no grass.
By this point in the trip, clinging to the seats for life was becoming tiring so we just sat there as the driver drove sideways along the dunes. Twenty minutes later we arrived at our destination marked by a weather-beaten sign. Our guide said get out and that we will be leaving in five hours. He pointed to a dilapidated shack, "Bathroom", and then to a tent covered in rags, "Food".
He must have forgotten to point at another tent, "Falcon with razor sharp claws"...
This is the Arabian Gulf. Apparently during the summer the water is almost unbearably hot, but much more bearable than not being in the water. During this time of year however, the water is comparable to the Pacific Ocean on a typical summer day. From what I could see, there was no aquatic life except for some algae growing on rocks. At this point, the water is only waist deep, but ten feet behind me it suddenly drops off into the abyss.
Sunset behind a camel in the Middle East. It was almost time to go at this point and we were mentally preparing ourselves for another thirty minutes of almost dying.
The trip was well worth the seventy-five dollars or so it cost. Despite almost hitting another car while driving up a sand dune on the way back, the excursion was a great stress reliever. A private beach dotted with palm-ladden shacks is definitely not the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions "Middle East".