27 December 2016

Rayna Desert Camp

Lehbab Desert
United Arab Emirates
Coordinates: 25.042177, 55.591218

When we arrived at the desert camp it was already a quarter to five in the evening. The first sight to greet us was a caravan of camels. Since there were no fee involved Cat and Brendan gleefully got on a camel, and they were taken on a gentle one minute ride.

we arrived at the desert camp

another favourite wallpaper of ours

our first time

riding the mighty dromedary

man's best friend in these parts

and off we go

On the UAE’s emblem, a golden falcon features prominently

indicating the high regard that Emiratis have for the falcon

for it is the ultimate symbol of pride and unity for Emiratis

we didn't dare try!

The sun was already setting out here in the desert, but I was exhausted from that entire dune bashing so Brendan alone trudged up a sand dune to capture some reality brilliant moments…

half past five in the evening

and the sun was already setting

and setting the tone for a quite remarkable sunset

view of the camp from afar

Brendan trudged up a small dune

and trained his camera at the setting sun

a brilliant yellow sun

touching our eyes and mind

with it's luminescent beauty

as it sits beneath

a desert mountain of dunes

holding our breaths 

as night time falls upon us

and we behold its luminescent beauty

Together with the price of the desert safari, dune bashing and admission to the desert camp is a buffer dinner spread. A Filipino lady who worked at the camp offered to serve us our dinner (for a small fee, of course) thereby avoiding the long queue around the buffet area that had grown in the blink of an eye.

Sern's weapon of choice

Brendan and his tattered jeans

essential refreshments out here in the desert

my brother-in-arms!

To pass the time Cat indulged in having her hands henna tattooed, a service that was also offered free of charge.

her first Mehendi

a form of body art from Ancient India

all done

Cat's suitably pleased!

The Filipino lady finally served us our meal, and as we had dinner the first of the live performances began: the Tanoura dance. Meaning skirt in English the Tanoura dance is a kind of dance very common in the Middle East, and one of the highlights of desert safari trips.

also known as Sufi whirling

or Sufi turning

a form of Sama 

or physically active meditation

spinning one's body in repetitive circles

a symbolic imitation of planets orbiting the sun

The beating of the drum is religious in nature and we’re told the performer aims is to reach spiritual inner purity and to enter a trance-like state during the performance, being at one with God. We marveled at the dancer as he spun around for more than ten minutes and without succumbing to dizziness at the end.

Next up was the Fire Dance. To be honest the young man performing the fire dance was quite mediocre, and the gasps from the (mostly female) crowd were more in admiration to his physical appearance and physique.

 manipulation of fire

very large wicks

spinning his poi 

and twirling his long baton

a crowd favourite

among the ladies, of course

Not to overlooked, the next and final performer did the Belly Dance. Again, I have to be honest here and say that the young lady performer did not have enough ‘belly’ to do the dance justice. And again, the attention and applause accorded her was due to her physical appearance and not the dance she performed.

also referred to as Arabic dance

 torso-driven dance, emphasising on articulations of the hips

originated in Egypt

but now performed by a woman from Eastern Europe?

not enough belly, in our minds

to do the dance justice

The show ended, and with that came the end of our trip to the desert. We met up with our driver outside the camp who took us back to Nuran. We then got into Sern’s car and waved goodbye to Dubai, as we headed back to Abu Dhabi.

With the day’s (and night’s) adventure still fresh in our minds I couldn’t help but play the song Arabian Nights from the animated movie, Aladdin over and over in my mind.

We will be back some day, Dubai.

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