As we got off the bus after the two hour ride, a wave of familiarity swept over us. With dune surfing, camel riding and henna art all happening right at the campsite, it was as though we were at NYU Abu Dhabi Candidate Weekend all over again.
In early November, 150 NYUAD freshman and NYUNY students spent their Friday night camping at Al Khatim on the way to Al Ain. Typical of NYUAD students, many of us were still working on class readings and homework on the way to the campsite. However, once we arrived, we realized this was a much needed vacation!
Walking up the sand dunes without stopping for a breath was no easy feat, let alone racing against your friends! But the class of 2018 and our NYUNY friends were undeterred by the steep incline, making multiple trips with sand boards up and down the dunes. Later, huddling into awaiting jeeps, we felt a mixture of excitement and nerves as we began our dune bashing adventure. Similar to a rollercoaster, dune bashing was exhilarating. Maneuvering along the steep dune slopes and through the smooth sand requires a unique skill, and is a type of performance art.
The night wound down with a delicious Arabic buffet spread, a belly dancing performance, and s'mores by the campfire. Many of us chose to forego the tents and sleep out under the stars. Little did we know that the rumors regarding the weather were true, and it began to rain in the wee hours of the morning. As raindrops fell on our heads, we scrambled for our belongings and ran in a mad dash to the nearest tents. Although it disrupted our sleep, the rain was really quite refreshing!
The following morning, 32 lucky students took advantage of the tranquil experience of sunrise yoga on the dunes. With a few hours to spare before we headed back to Saadiyat, we played football, surfed the dunes and took some last minute photos. An experience that gave us much needed respite and brought us back in time to our introduction to the desert at Candidate Weekend, this camping trip was definitely a weekend well spent!