This is part of the Sixth section of our around the
Complete Trip Overview & Map
Coming from Iran
21/11/99 A 7.30 am start and a 10 pm finish, hotel to hotel, with just a four hour ferry crossing to the UAE. The rest of the day was spent in paperwork and waiting. Two Australians, two UAE residents and over 200 Iranians with work visas for the UAE were on the boat along with all their possessions for a two year stay, and one motorcycle. Most of the paperwork delay was due to the unusual route we were taking, the officials not having processed this type of paperwork before.
22/11/99 The bright neon lights and billboards of Dubai quite a contrast to the starkness of Iran. The modern souk lined with gold shops and tourists mainly on a stop over to somewhere else. Our Oman visa will take just two days and the H-D dealer here, looking at a dirty bike still covered in mud from the Turkish snow and ice, offered the use of a pressure jet and a work bench free for us to use to carry out any repairs necessary. This enormous shop, and probably the cheapest H-D parts anywhere due to the duty free-ness in Dubai, with a comfortable lounge, juke box music, coffee and conversation with customers made today, the most relaxed of the trip so far. We finally gave up on visiting Saudi Arabia learning today that transit visas are only issued to neighbouring country residents or people with residency visas and not to tourists.
23/11/99 Spent the day servicing the motorcycle ourselves in the most magnificent workshop. Air-conditioned, access to all the tools, motorcycle hoist, a truly professional outfit, received some good advice from the mechanics. The evening spent with Richard, his wife and their computer to help update this site. Richard races off road motorcycles through the desert and has read more world travel books on motorcycles than us. One of the mix of diverse nationalities brought here by jobs where they can not own land or buildings nor live here without a job, where they can never become citizens but where they outnumber the nationals by four to one. Some now second generation losing ties with their heritage country without an alternative.
24/11/99 The Dubai H-D riders meet each Wednesday (read Friday in the west) evening after dark (the only time it is cool) during winter (too hot to ride in summer), (reverse of most places) and ride the city and surrounds connecting freeways and use the round abouts and off ramps as twisty bits. The brightly lit four and six lane roads makes riding through traffic seem like daytime. Just a loop of a bit under 100 km and back to a different pub or club or disco till early Thursday (read Saturday) morning. The group, well we were the only Australians but the remaining 40 people covered about 50 countries, some claiming more than one ancestry. Two groups, about 20 bikes in each, rode hard and fast but safely to one club then another. A Muslim country, conservative Gulf country, well I think the ex-patriates killed that when they flooded the place. Philippino waitresses, dance girls and flesh operators seem to have arrived, the drinks flowed freely (but expensively), we could have been at any night club anywhere. The evening dampened by one motorcycle being struck by a car, the rider suffering broken ribs and shoulder.
25/11/99 The weekend ride was to Fujairah, the Eastern Emirate, 120 km, half along desert flats and half over desert mountains. Forty motorcycles left late afternoon arriving just after dark riding the four lane all the way. The destination, the newly renovated Hilton hotel, beach front, garden barbecue, tennis courts and swimming pool set in the holiday atmosphere of this corner of the Emirates. Thankfully we were offered a complimentary room by the Hilton due to our "special guest status", so we saved the budget. The usual H-D bash, great food, friends, booze, music and of course the ride and looking at everyone's new chrome bits or engine modifications. We were passed by Maserati's, Lamborghini's and hundreds of large four wheel drives literally flying down the road, the enormous wealth of this region not seen by us before in our travels anywhere else. People with money spending it, making the world go round, helping the trickle down economy, particularly for the Philippino and Indian workers who send most of the earnings home to their families.
26/11/99 Photos and farewells after a late start, riders drifting away all morning. We left at 12 noon and headed north to Dibba, then over the mountains to the west, camping rough just north of Ras al Khaimah.
27/11/99 Down the west coast, rode over hundreds of speed humps designed to slow the Maserati's, through the remaining Emirates, there being seven in all, each with their own completely sovereign ruler, to the wealthiest of all, Abu Dhabi, which sits upon 9% of the worlds known reserves of oil. This small city which pre oil 30 years ago was a fishing village now competes with Dubai for some of the worlds most modern architectural high-rise buildings. The desert has been greened with desalinated water, parks and gardens more consistent in areas where temperatures fall well short of the 50 degrees experienced here in summer. Comfortable living brings a relaxed lifestyle, the H-D dealer (manager) inviting us to stay at his house while in Abu Dhabi, greatly appreciated because of the high hotel costs and also to see inside one of the thousands of three story houses (villas) everyone seems to live in. This is the only Arab country we have visited where ongoing maintenance seems to be factored into the economy, where everything new and old, works. BBQ dinner and drinks on the roof top of another ex-pat's apartment from South Africa.
28/11/99 We were invited to dinner by a nephew of Shaikh Zayed who has ruled Abu Dhabi and thus the UAE since 1966. The nephew owns five H-D's and unlike many of his siblings married a western lady from England. Also present were a Pakistani business man and his Lebanese wife, a single lady from Saudi Arabia and a couple of others to make up this ethnic blend. We rode to a couple of venues for entertainment and dinner, past millions of fairy lights draped over trees, buildings, anything stationary in preparation for National Day next week, topping off this fairy tale city.
29/11/99 The UAE H-D dealers and their HOG members have
surely been the most welcoming on our travels. Left Abu Dhabi for Al Ain,
along the new desert
highway, again tree planted with kilometres of black polythene irrigation
piping bring desalinated life. A short drive up Jabal Hafit for extensive
views over the barren desert, and passport control 60 km short of the Oman
border then rough camped in the desert mountains. The UAE a great friendly
country, not bad prices for food and petrol but if on a budget make sure
you meet plenty of friends for accommodation. There is really nothing outside
Dubai as almost everyone who travels has money or the country is small enough
to return home each night.
Move with us to Oman or go to our next visit to the U.A.E.
Story and photos copyright ©
Peter and Kay Forwood,