Why I Love Emaratis & Omanis

During this little adventure of ours we had a vast experience across the UAE and crossing multiple times in Oman. It was an adventure of discovery and it was well worth it, going from city to city to get to the best riding roads I have ever been to. I have been riding in the best places in the US and honestly they do not hold a candle to the amazing locations in Oman & UAE. Aside from the roads and how clean everything was, every time we can to a security check point or interacted with them, the moment they found out we were Kuwaiti the tone totally changed and they were more then nice to us. And on the roads people would move aside 90% of the time and give us way, I mean every kind of person, we ran into a few idiots on the road but they were only 10% and were few and far apart compared to Kuwait who are 90% idiotic and rude on the road. I always knew Emaratis were nice people, and Omani’s were very respectful and kind as well but what happened to us was different then the normal situation

Omani Incident

During our ride I had a GoPro Camera mounted to my helmet, and as soon as we reached the Omani boarder heading to Khasab I switched it off but it was still mounted. When we got to the passport control, the officer asked about the camera and if it was recording, I told him it was mounted and switched off. I told him he could check if he would like but he said my word is more then enough for him. I know that it would have been a different situation if we were at the Saudi border. So after we crossed I switched on the camera and we went on our intense ride on the road by the sea on our way to Khasab which was breath taking. I saw an old sign that said military check point, but we didn’t think twice about since it looked old and we kept on pushing hard through the corners until around the next hill it turned out to be a full on military checkpoint with a small platoon of men. We slowed down quickly since we were coming in fast and they jumped on the road. Their captain came out quickly pointing at my helmet as I was slowing down, and they were talking to us sternly asking for IDs. Of course keep in mind that with our helmets on they have no idea who we are or where we are from. I had my passport with me and I was so thankful that I had that lovely blue passport with me. The moment they saw the color they said “Oh Kuwaitiyeen” and they relaxed right away, I was taking off my helmet and the captain came to me apologetically asking if my camera was recording I said yes since we were recording the ride. He said he is sorry but he didn’t want the check point showing up on the video and I said it wouldn’t be a problem, he asked if it would erase the whole thing I said yes and he apologized it didn’t take me 2 minutes to do that and I knew were gonna have a chance to hit those curves again. He argued with us to have coffee with him and food because of this, we spent 2 minutes on the security part and 10 minutes thanking him and excusing ourselves from stopping to keep on riding. They were more then nice to us and after that whenever a military vehicle saw us coming they would pull over to the side and let us pass. It was amazing, and when we rode back past them they stopped the cars and waved us through. Just because they knew we were Kuwaitis, what could anyone say, they went over and above being nice to us the moment they knew we were Kuwaitiyeen, I wish people were that nice in Kuwait.

Emarti Incident

Every time we went to somewhere new we would ask where is the best place to go to get some coffee and we usually get pointed to a nice mall, and a majority of them are nice. This was the fourth day on our trip and we were in Fujeirah, we went to a mall about 5 mins away called City Centre, very simple and pretty much all Al-Shaya’a brands so we stopped in Starbucks for a few cold drinks, and some of the guys wanted coffee. We were probably the only guys in jeans who were from the GCC, we sat there for a little while. Then one Emarati guy walked right up to us asking us how are we and if we were from Kuwait, at first I thought he knew one of the guys because of us very nice approach. We told him yes and from that point forward he told us we have to have dinner with him at his house, we thanked him and said we were still riding and he then said then coffee, you can’t just come to Fujeirah and not have coffee at my house. Honestly I was beyond surprise, what can you say to someone so nice, it was just something else. After we excused ourselves he gave us his phone number and said you aren’t familiar with the area and if anything happens and you need anything be sure to call me right away. What can you say to that, just extremely nice, I just couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. You can’t blame me for loving these people, not all Emaratis are like this but a lot of them are very kind.

UAE & Oman Bike Trip

This started off back in early June and we were discussing the details about going on a nice long bike and we were discussing the locations and honestly UAE was a nice location to start with. I didn’t want to rent a bike and do a tour, I wanted to ride on my bike on a trip not another bike. There were about six of us as I mentioned in the other post but by the time it came to commit only four could commit from the six, and it was a solid number so we went ahead with the idea. All the major planning and details were being discussed over the few months but the major travel arrangements didn’t happen except until the first week of October, I probably should have started it earlier since everything would get booked up on Eid and I thought we were going to go to odd places and there would be availability but I was very wrong, we hit German tourist territory with about 3/4 of all the locations we went to.

Bike Travel Preparation

  • We did as much research as humanely possible.
  • Luckily there are a lot British nuts in UAE who ride so we found a substantial amount of youtube videos for the areas we were heading towards so we knew what we were in for
  • Tristar serviced our machines and got them prepped by checking every nut and bolt on our bikes
  • I got a Garmin Nuvi 1490 LMT with updated Middle East Maps from Seas & Deserts
  • Mapped everything on Google Maps including stops and made sure we were on track to the nice curvy roads

Setting Up The GPS

  • I got the Ram Mount for the Garmin Nuvi 1490LMT
  • Installed the Garmin Battery Cable thanks to Tristar
  • The GPS wasn’t budging in speeds upwards of 240 kph so it was perfect
  • I transferred our routes through a program called Tyre which you can download here
  • I double checked our route on the Garmin Device and modified it slightly since it wasn’t 100% as we wanted

We got information from Tristar on which shipping company to use and we also checked a few others. We decided to have our bikes shipped to Dubai and start from there, we didn’t want ride from Kuwait to UAE because I heard that Saudi is a very boring straight line, no curves so it would be tiring and no reason to ride it. After a little research and a few quotes we went with Al Sawan shipping since they have had experience shipping motorcycles to Europe and other locations in the Middle East for other riders. They got our bikes to Dubai within 5 days ready in a storage facility, so picked them up from Dubai Green Park Community on Wednesday morning and road back to Dubai. It felt like we were the wild pack and about to embark on an insane adventure.

This is the route we took:

  • Day 1 – Dubai to Ras Al Khaymah
  • Day 2 – Ras Al Khaymah to Khasab, Oman to Ras Al Khaymah (Curvy Road)
  • Day 3 – Ras Al Khaymah to Fujeirah (Curvy Road)
  • Day 3 – After we got to the Hotel we took a ride from Fujeirah to Kalba then Hatta and Back (Very Curvy Roads)
  • Day 4 – Fujeirah to Al Ain (Again Very Curvy Roads through Kalba and Hatta)
  • Day 5 – Al Ain to Dubai (Straight Line & Boring)

We had to pack 7 days worth of clothing into a small tail pack on the back of the Diavel, and I carried a back pack which was a bit uncomfortable and not a smart idea. I brought a laptop and a few things which didn’t require and taking up space. So on the travel days I was in a bit of an uncomfortable position. I didn’t know the exact routes and the GPS gave us about 90% of the right routes, the thing is I double checked it as much as possible.

I had my GoPro Hero2 attached to my Helmet and switched it on during the curves which was a lot of fun. The one thing I just had to keep in mind was to switch it off at border crossings, but we had a few incidents at security checkpoints where the camera was running but I didn’t know they were there and they asked about it if it was running. So I just had to keep it in mind during our trip since we had a few places that we crossed that I put the GoPro away.

There were three parts to the ride that I loved, Khasab Oman, a beautiful two lane road by the coast head from Ras Al Khaymah to Khasab. It was thrilling to ride and felt brand new, I wish to ride again soon, we just didn’t have the chance to fully enjoy it. Then there were the curves just before Fujeirah, it was just over the top, high speed curves and then some tight curves up in the mountains, I was excited while riding, I haven’t seen roads like that in my life.

When we got to Dibba Al Fujeirah after the first set of curves we were riding by the coast with some very beautiful roads passing by the Gas Storage Facility in Fujeirah before getting to our hotel. It was fun and Fujeirah had the most modern mall, I think it was called City Centre, very nicely done. We dropped our things and went riding to Kalba since it was only 15 KM away and then continued another 60 KM to Hatta which we went through the infamous tunnel, I loved hearing from my screaming exhaust and I think so did the people outside the tunnel. The Diavel really is another name for Devil because that’s what it sounded like screaming through. We found a few Wadi’s which we stopped by, it really was a fun adventure, and took some pictures there as well. Then we rode back to the hotel and decided to turn in after getting some coffee. The one thing I have to say is that you can find a Starbucks in every location, I was shocked, they are everywhere.

Next day we headed out for our longest ride over 230 KM and surprisingly we only had to fill once even with the Monster riding with us. We hit the fun curvy part on the way to Hatta and through the tunnels, its such an amazing road. Then when we came close to the Oman border the roads became straight and it got a bit boring, so it was a little over an hour of straight highway, and as we got close to Al Ain the roads were turning into a major highway, four lanes on each side. When you get into Al Ain it is a beautiful area with lots of vegetation, and it feels like the old Sharjah that I remember from the 90s. And one thing for sure is that it was extremely clean, every road so clean, in UAE & Oman.

Throughout our ride we only got caught in traffic during the evening in Dubai as we were leaving. The best times to leave are early morning so you can enjoy your day where ever you are going. Everyone gives us way, about 90% of people on the road were nice to us or indifferent. The other 10% are a bit crazy but compared to Kuwait it’s a walk in the park. We spent most of our day riding and when the sun sets we are back at the hotel, getting a bite to eat and passing out to walk up at the crack of dawn when possible.

Our Hotels:

  • Palace Old Town – 1 Night
  • Hilton Ras Al Khaymah – 2 Nights
  • Nour Arjan Rotana Fujeirah – 1 Night
  • Mercure Grand Jebel Hafeet – 1 Night
  • Palace Old Town – 1 Night

Since the moment the GPS was switched on we travelled a total of 1402 kilometers all over the UAE and a bit of Oman on Day 2 & Day 4. It was a hell of a trip and to top it off we went wakeboarding in Dubai Marina which was a lot of fun. I only got upstaged by my young cousin and I was falling face flat into the water, but I enjoyed it. The ride to Dubai was exhausting because it started getting a bit hotter then we expected and it was all a straight line, it was very boring, so hitting the water right away was exactly what was needed. This was probably one of the best rides I have been on and the roads in the UAE are better then any road I have seen in the UK or all of the West Coast of the US. The Diavel and Monster S4RS were more then capable for a very long trip and taking roads of every kind and I’m hoping to do something like this again and soon.


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Cross UAE & Oman

This will probably be one of the most intense rides I will ever take, we have been planning this for over three months, but the real planning started about a month back. We got our bikes prepped, we were initially supposed to be 6 guys but due to work conflicts we dropped down to 4 guys on this little adventure.

The Machines On This Trip

  • 1 Diavel Carbon
  • 2 Diavels
  • 1 Monster SR2

I have done some long distance traveling before but not in the Middle East so this is going to be a new one. We are as preparred as can be at this point. I mapped out everything on Google Maps and ported it to my Garmin Device which is mounted to the left side of my handle bar. I mapped out our routes exactly, calculated what we needed and the distances between stops and the gas stations in the vicinity and some areas don’t have gas stations so we needed to plan for that.

I have to thank Tristar for all their support in setting this up. We know its the beginning of riding season but they took our bikes serviced them, and even recommended changes for a long trip. I got a rear bag mounted to the back of the Diavel which doesn’t look too bad in my Opinion. I changed out my rear tire since it was a little abused so I had to ride it out a bit before taking it to UAE. They also recommended a transportation company for us since we didn’t want to ride through Saudi, so they were very helpful getting this trip off the ground.

Right now all our bikes are waiting for us in a storage area close to Jebel Ali. We get there, we ride them to Dubai and then the 1000 KM+ adventure begins.


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Project Completition in the GCC

Construction

Looking at all the different projects that been completed in the last 5 years you can see construction projects, financial projects, media development, business development projects, telecommunication development. So many different kinds that I don’t know how to list them all. Saudi talks about projects in the billions of dollars while Bahrain completes these important project within a certain budget and does a fantastic job when seeing the end result. Qatar is on an insane boom of every kind, and UAE is still continuing with the projects the planned out and scrapped the ones that didn’t work. In all these countries you can see all the different kinds of projects and the result of their completion, but in the case of Kuwait. In the last 5 years Kuwait has re-tendered and canceled so many projects that I honestly lost count. I can’t remember any major project that has been completed in the last 6 months. Kuwait is stagnant, in place and no change even though we all want to progress forward. They have been talking about Fiber to Home for the past 8 years with no result in Kuwait while Oman is connecting fiber between very distant cities as well as other maritime projects. Below is my ranking of countries based on project completion, the funny is that Kuwait has the highest number of running projects but a very low successful ratio. All the Gulf countries have passed Kuwait in regards to progress and development, and our government has yet to do complete any major project. For how long was the first ring road stuck with no construction of projects then suddenly everything came alive in 6 months ago.

Projects Completed By Ranking:

  • Qatar
  • UAE
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Oman
  • Bahrain
  • Kuwait

Oman For The Day

I usually try my hardest not to travel in Ramadan as it takes a toll on a person and I honestly can’t justify breaking my fast during these short trips in the Gulf. This one came up urgently as I had to go to Oman for the day full of meetings and they started from early in the morning with three meetings in total.

We came in on the Oman Air flight the night before and staying at The Chedi hotel. After my last stay I don’t think I want to stay anywhere else in Oman but sadly the restaurant closes at 10:30 pm and we arrived around 1:30 am. But the hotel was comfortable as usual with only about 50% capacity it was relatively empty but we didn’t get to enjoy the resort much other then relaxing because we were fasting. But the weather was amazing between 23 to 28 degrees, with mild humidity which wasn’t too bad, it was very pleasant. As soon as we were done we relaxed at the hotel for about an hour and half before heading to the airport to catch our 7 pm flight back, the best part of the hotel is their very good policy about late check out. The next time I go to Oman I plan on renting a car and getting a little lost, I’m curious about a few different places there.


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The Chedi – Oman

For my second trip to Oman I wanted to pamper myself a little but like any company there are certain budgets that I had to work within. I decide to choose a nicer hotel this time but the one I wanted didn’t exactly fit into the budget, so I took what they gave me and choose the one I wanted paying the rest off on my own. The company paid for a 1/3 and I paid for 2/3 out of pocket and it was really really worth it. First off Oman is one of the cleanest and most vegetated country in the Gulf, and some of the nicest people there. The hotel is a resort about 20 minutes from the airport and probably one of the nicest I have seen. I was one of the few Arabs staying there, I mostly saw Italians and Germans for some reason, and they said that only 10% of the hotel is ever filled by people from the GCC.

Walking in you really feel like your swept away, it has the lushest green laws I have seen. Took a 5 minute walk to my room and it was amazing, a scene out of a movie. Put my things down, changed and headed to spa to book a massage and I wanted to have a late dinner. I booked a one hour reflexology session an hour later, went back to my room finished a few reports up before heading back to the spa. As soon the session started I knew that it was going to be good, I brought a magazine to read but I passed out within the first 10 minutes. I wasn’t expecting it to be this relaxing. After being woken I was all loose and dazed from only a foot massage. Then I head over to restaurant to have dinner, and it was an amazing meal, a very good salad and lobster.

Next morning off to meetings, I think I was the only person there he was staying there while heading to meetings, most everyone were couples or families on vacation at The Chedi. This hotel is more oriented to younger adults and couples then it is to families with kids. The service is very good, everyone is very helpful, and the rooms are amazing and comfortable, full Bose sound system with two different iPod docks, not including free internet and minibar. I’m not much of a Spa person but their massages were so good I made an appointment every day in the evening for three days, luckily they were open until 10pm. I just couldn’t get enough of the amazing range of food during breakfast or dinner, didn’t have a chance for lunch during my stay but I am planning a visit their for vacation. I didn’t manage to take advantage of the two pools while I was there, next time I hope to. Anyone who is looking for a nice relaxing place for vacation then I highly recommend the Chedi, it really surpassed my expectations.

(A lot of pictures below!)


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Food @ The Chedi – Oman

While in Oman I tried keeping to this diet, or trying to eat light throughout this whole trip. I just made sure that whatever I ate that was really good I would walk it off, and I took the opportunities to enjoy the fish and all forms of crustaceans. To say that the food at The Chedi hotel in Muscat is exquisite is a huge understatement. The service itself was top notch, probably one of the best service I have had in a while, they were all very helpful and accommodating on all forms but the food was just something else.

Breakfast in the morning was a large selection not including what you could order from the kitchen. I had fresh cheeses and turkey, labnah and breads, all kinds of juices. Then came the scramble eggs, they turned the food into an art form and it tasted so good I wanted more. The lunch was amazing, I can’t remember the last time I had lobster and since having it there I kept asking for it. The meal was amazing and the each dish was better then the other. Their Tiger Prawns were huge, bigger then normal and everything just tasted so fresh. I’m going to have to visit their again just for the food and this time not on business so I can enjoy it and relax while their instead of running back to the hotel and eating then heading back out again.


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Trip All Around

Trip0410

The past week I have been between meetings in Oman and Emirates and between planes all over the GCC. Its always a new experience and exhausting at the same time, it was supposed to be Oman only then as soon as I was in Oman I got a call for a meeting in Dubai/Abu Dhabi so I had to change my flight plans.

Surprisingly a lot of flights to Oman were full and Oman Air had inconvenient flights so I couldn’t take them. Emirates and Qatar Airways had horrible times, the best flight times were Gulf Air so I took it. The transit through Bahrain was decent because Gulf Air have a decent lounge and fast internet so time flew by as I was sitting there. With the diversion of flights I had to take a flight from Muscat to Dubai and that was insanely full, I barely managed to get on the Oman Air Flight to Dubai which was only 37 minutes. Then the flight back to Kuwait on Saturday is via Wataniya Airways my prefered airlines. This has been a cocktail of flights and airlines, so many damn meetings I was exhausted. Oman is always an interesting experience and this time around I did something a little different then usual to make it a different experience and relaxing even with all the work.

Flying all over the place for a week is exhausting, I don’t mind traveling for work but this past week took a lot out of me. Luckily now that is done and hopefully I can make some progress with all this work.

One Day in Oman

On the way back I had a two and half hour delay leading to four hours and half in a 20 year old Oman Air lounge. Those were probably the most uncomfortable couches I ever sat on, and sitting on it for several hours led to some pain in my neck and back. Even with all that I just couldn’t get mad at the people working there, they were very nice, polite and apologetic. The plane was an old Boeing 737-700, the Omani flight attendant was very nice, even when I fell asleep before the flight she asked me if I wanted to eat when there was 10 mins left before landing, and the plane was very quickly even though it was very old.

Oman has a natural mountainous and green areas, surrounded by the sea, especially Muscat. It has some very nice windy roads up the mountainous areas and some very nice coastal roads by the sea. All the roads are very smoothly paved, even though you can tell some areas need work, but the roads are extremely clean, and so are the side walks. You just get this feeling that every where is clean in Oman, and it feels so refreshing.

I managed to visit Sultan Qaboos Mosque which is an amazing piece of architecture, and a real work of art. It just has this heart warming and majestic feeling when you walk into it, and what I found to be amazing is that it is open to the general public during morning times for visits. The Omani curator and security were very friendly and asked if they could help me, and were willing to give me short private tour but I was on a schedule and unluckily for me I didn’t have the time but its worth it to come back and see it. Every Omani person that I met was more then friendly and helpful, they were genuinely nice and whenever they found out I was Kuwaiti they were extra nice, I don’t even know how to explain it.

For some people who were asking I was staying at the Grand Hyatt since it was closer to the location where I had my meetings and it was a very nice hotel, nothing special as others have mentioned of Shangri-La and Chedi but it was nice nonetheless. The one thing that I can’t stop repeating is how nice every once, even the expats who get used to this place love it. They do say that somethings are a bit slow but you can live with it, but what I would surprising is that Oman was only introduced to DSL about 3 to 4 years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to live like that, also there is a very sophisticated monitoring tool which makes our ISP blocking tools look like a cake walk. Oman is worth a visit again, I’m thinking about bringing my motorcycle for some nice rides and a good lunch. I didn’t have a enough time but I had a lot to take in. I always thought of Bahrainis as the nicest people in the Gulf, but I think the Omanis are even nicer, I don’t even know how to describe it, they are just extremely polite, nice, and kind people. Even during the meeting I felt embarrassed from one person who went out of his way, what an experience that I hope to repeat soon. I know I will be putting some mileage on my Landcruiser because I’m looking for a nice long drive and dragging my bike with me.

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In Oman

I came in late last night for a quick meeting that I have to attend and then back to Kuwait the next day. This is the first time I travel to Oman and surprisingly very few airlines fly to Oman. Oman Airways reminds me of Gulf Air back in the day, I refrained from having anything to eat on the plane even though I was hungry, I just had a gut feeling. Over the past year I have gotten used to planes having power plugs to run the laptop on so I didn’t charge my laptop this time around and so I only had about an hour of battery, but I passed out on my seat within 20 mins and slept the whole 2 hour flight to Muscat.

The airport looks like an old government building, but once you enter the people are very nice. Very nice is an understatement, they are extremely nice and the immigrations people were cracking jokes and asking why I don’t stay longer and next time to come in winter. The same case with the customs people, they were really nice, the driver we took from the airport was Omani as well and I just kept asking him questions. Their highway is very smooth and nice, and I asked about their speeding laws which seemed reasonable but everyone was driving in such a civil manner.

I don’t think there is much to do here, people were telling me about two specific hotels but they are resorts really and they said its mostly couples. What a very interesting country, but I should probably pass by when I’m not traveling for work.