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Camping in the UAE

Date: 22/12/2014
Source: This information was seen in Off-Road UAE) Photos
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Our member from the United Arab Emirates is first and foremost a motoring organisation with 200,000 very contented members. It offers round-the-clock emergency assistance by highly
qualified mechanics for which one usually only has to wait for 30 minutes (very important in a country that is so hot in summer – one should never go off without plenty of drinking water).
IATC moreover offers technical support to the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix.
The Club was founded in 1980 and offers assistance and support in the area of motoring, camping and caravanning. Mr. Hamad Ali Al Mazroui will head up this important organisation.
Club members receive all services free of charge.
In addition, the Club organises weekend excursions (Thursday evening through Saturday) and camping trips in the desert or to oases for its members. Thursday evenings see lots of Emirati families driving their 4WD into the desert where they make a campfire, cook and discuss the latest news or perhaps recount one of the Tales of the Arabian Nights.
Most of them spend one or two nights in a tent in the dunes and you see lots of small fires burning along the roadside or on the top of the dunes when you travel around at night. It makes one realise that despite, or because of, the huge cities where people live, the lure of the desert is still very real.
There are many foreign expatriates living in the Emirates who succumb to this magic too and spend their weekends camping in the Sahara i.e. the desert, in the mountains or near wadis (dry river beds that fill up quickly after a storm or rain).

Camping in the UAE
So far there are no official campsites in the UAE (*) and at present hardly any restrictions as to where one may or may not camp. However public beaches and private land (plantations and farmland) are definitely off-limits.
The best time for camping is between October and April. All you need is a tent, a sleeping bag, food and of course lots and lots of water if you are camping in the desert, and it should be remembered that 90% of the UAE is desert.

The choice of a spot for pitching your tent requires a little forethought:
• It should be in the shade preferably.
• The tent should be visible to other 4x4 drivers.
• Try to find a spot low down rather than on top of a dune.
• You should leave a light on or your campfire burning all night so that you can be seen from afar. But remember to keep an eye on your campfire, especially if it is windy.
• Turn your boots or shoes upside down and shake them out well before you put them back on. There are a number of strange and potentially very unfriendly creatures that inhabit the desert such as scorpions, spiders and snakes that could prove to be your undoing.
• It is advisable to have a full charged mobile phone and a GPS with you and always let friends and acquaintances know whereabouts in the country you are planning to camp.
• Respect the flora and fauna when you camp.
• Do not leave any food leftovers or waste behind, but take it with you and dispose of it back home. Unfortunately all too often the desert resembles a rubbish tip because some people who spend a few days there do not “clear up“ after themselves and leave the ground awash with plastic bags, plastic bottles, barbecue leftovers, old tyres etc. It is a very sorry sight.
• IATC works hard and has been quite successful in impressing on its members the importance of protecting the environment.
• Caravanning and motorcaravanning are not a problem in the UAE. The roads are excellent and road signs are in both English and Arabic so there is no problem finding your way around.
• It is a very clean country and medical care is excellent. There are supermarkets everywhere that stock every conceivable food item from all over the world.

(*) There is (or was) a proper campsite in Dibba a few years back with showers, toilets, BBQ evenings, a café and comfortable beds in permanently pitched so-called Bedouin tents. Tour operators organise(d) “Desert camping trips“.

Our member “International Automobile and Touring Club“ UAE, has been given permission and the necessary land on which to construct a modern, comfortable campsite for tents, caravans and motorcaravans near the sea and not far from the city.
Plans to build a campsite are well in hand.