Eleven day camel trek gives expats clues to Emirati culture

Published:  30 Jan at 6 PM
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Tagged: South Africa, Dubai, UAE
Fifteen expats of various nationalities recently experienced a challenging 11-day camel trek aimed at learning about the traditional Emirati desert culture.

Beginning January 11 in Abu Dhabi’s Empty Quarter, the 15 expats from nine countries rode their camels across the UAE’s deserts and through harsh weather for around 500 kilometres. Every day, they trekked for around nine hours without a break, sleeping off their exhaustion before doing it all over again the following day. Challenges came as standard and included a massive sandstorm which hit whilst the group were negotiating the desert’s towering sand dunes, but the participants all agreed the trek was a once in a lifetime experience.

Before the group left, they had to undergo training sessions including camel riding and coping with the hazards of the deserts. First-time participant Nicola Mather told reporters she’d had the most incredible ten days of her life, but simply doesn’t know how she and the group actually got through the experience unscathed. Her solo camel-riding lessons had taken a month to complete and the sandstorm was her most difficult challenge, but the total contrast of riding through a town followed literally hundreds of cars was the most surreal.

At the end of the trek, Mather was sad to say goodbye to her camel, but said she was more than happy to be with her husband and children again. She’s thrilled she learned so much about Emirati culture and how the desert had shaped it for centuries, saying it’s a great experience she’d recommend to every expat in the region. For Nour Laine, a French expatriate living and working in Dubai, the trek was her third and she intends to go again. It doesn’t get easier, she said, adding you still feel pain after riding for such a long time day after day, but meeting new friends and the experience itself is more than worth the effort.
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