In the UAE, the list of things to see is long but distances are short.
I made a few simple resolutions for myself before starting college at NYU Abu Dhabi. One of them was to become immersed, really and truly, in the country where I was going to study. This resolution is easy to keep in the UAE where the list of things to explore is long but distances are short.
On the first break of my freshman year, I, alongside two close friends from Russia and Zimbabwe, embarked on a five-day journey by bus around the two emirates of Abu Dhabi and Fujairah. Our goal was to explore a couple emirates in more depth as opposed to all the emirates in less depth.
Our first stop was the beautiful city of Al Ain in Abu Dhabi, a two-hour bus ride from NYUAD in Abu Dhabi city. Along the way camel browns morph into leafy greens, the sky is ever-present blue, and there are no potholes!
To me, Al Ain operates on a different, calmer, and more intimate frequency than Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It has soul, so to speak. We spent two days in the city. Day one was dedicated to sports, extreme and mild, including whitewater rafting, ziplining, giant swings, and obstacle courses at Wadi Adventures, which is quite a few miles from downtown; a truth that dawned on us when we spent considerable amounts of time and energy trying to catch a cab. Misadventures, however, are an intrinsic component of any traveling venture and always welcome because they usually end up in long walks in the company of good friends who offer enjoyable conversations.
The next day brought to us a different kind of adventure. We visited the Al Ain oasis, marveling at the extensive greenery in a mostly arid country. The oasis not only provided insight into the traditional irrigation methods but also provided a nice preface for our sunset visit to the Green Mubazzarah at the base of Jebel (mountain) Hafeet. The trip to Al Ain ended on a warm note with a visit to my roommate’s house (she grew up in Al Ain) and so much food I could barely walk!
The next leg of our journey was to the emirate of Fujairah, again by bus. The highway that took us there reminds me so much of a similar one back home in the Pakistani region of Kallar Kahar. Our first stop in Fujairah was Al Aqah beach where we spent the night camping beside the ocean and lying in the cool night sand chattering away. Given that all three of us were first-time campers, the venture went pretty smoothly despite some initial troubles setting up a fire.
The next morning, after a quick swim and yoga by the beach, we packed up, driven out more so by the October heat than anything else, and checked into a hotel in the city. The plan was to go hiking on a nearby trail but we ended up walking around the city instead, soaking it in, and discovering Fujairah’s own version of the absolutely stunning Sheikh Zayed mosque.
The next day, we caught a bus to Abu Dhabi, via Dubai, traveling for approximately six hours before finding ourselves back where we started five days earlier.