Great Outdoors – Under the stars

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Under the stars
By Cindy L Bailey, Staff Writer GULF NEWS Published: December 18, 2007, 22:59

All you need to know to camp in the UAE.

Some experiences are better lived than read about. Camping in the UAE is one of them.

There are still some camping rules where there is a little regulation that should be followed to not only keep out of harm’s way, but also to make each camping session magical and memorable.

There are no official camping grounds in the UAE but desert camping is still a very popular activity enjoyed by many, in areas such as Hatta, Liwa, Hameem and the Moreeb Dunes.

The Dubai Municipality website is a great source for camping tips. It includes hints on how to protect the environment while enjoying that fun day out in the great outdoors.

The Environment Department, Environment Protection and Safety section in the website elaborates. “The desert is a sensitive environment. Vehicles traveling over the sand pose a threat to habitats and dune stability.

“Drivers should avoid making new tracks in the sand and stay on paths that have already been made. Driving over the desert kills plants and spoils the compact soil, making it difficult for new plants to grow.

“Desert plants protect the desert from erosion and provide a source of nourishment and protection for desert creatures. Desert animals should not be disturbed.” The website also advises campers on how to approach areas that support wildlife. There are also beach camping rules.

“Do not drive vehicles in the inertial zone at the beach. Dubai Local Orders prohibit acts which may damage the natural environment of any protected area, including damage to wild, marine or plant life or any actions affecting the aesthetic values of any reserve.

Protected areas include the head of Dubai Creek, the coastal strip and adjoining marine waters west of Jebel Ali Hotel.”

In the UAE, keeping the harsh summers in mind, camping is not just about the where and how. It’s also about when.

The best time to pitch a tent in the UAE is during the winter months. Temperatures are not extreme (unless one is camping in the proper desert, where temperatures are known to plummet at night).

Also, do keep in mind to drink up to two litres of drinking water per person, per day during extended camping sessions in the desert.

Rosy pictures of a crackling campfires are picture perfect vignettes for the family album. But a lot goes into that Kodak moment, which brings us to the camping equipment.

To set up camp you will need equipment that can withstand hard ground, cold nights, sand and bugs. For shelter, choose a low-profile exoskeleton tent. Its seam-sealed floor keeps out insects while the self-supporting frame allows the tent to be moved around easily. Each person in the party should have his/her own sleeping bag.

Animals, insects, and sand are inconveniences one can’t help considering while camping out. Place clothes and shoes in bags at night and remember to shake out clothes and sleeping bags before use to ensure that there are no scorpions and spiders piling on for the ride.

Health is of paramount importance when out camping. Even on cool days it’s advisable to protect yourself against too much sun with a wide-brimmed hat or cap, sunglasses, sun block cream and comfortable clothing.

Keep the young ones well protected. It is also important to know the signs of heat exhaustion and dehydration. “Feeling weak, dizzy, tired, exceptionally thirsty, getting a dry mouth muscle weakness and headaches are the symptoms,” warns Dr Denis Hardy, paediatrician at the Manchester Clinic, Dubai. Carrying a first-aid kit is a must.

Follow rules indicated in the Dubai Muncipality website. “Beaches and desert areas should not be littered with barbecue ashes.

“If you intend to make a fire then take your own wood or charcoal or use dead wood. Do not pull limbs from ‘ dead'” trees or uproot dead shrubs.” Know that any form of waste would take decades to decompose, so don’t forget to bring rubbish bags to discard of any waste.” For information regarding camping applications, contact 04 206 4244 or 04 206 4245. More details can also be found at

Essentials for an overnighter

Here is a list of everything you will need for a safe camping trip:

Sleeping bags
Pillows (for small children)
First-aid kit
Lanterns or flash lights (Be sure to have extra fuel or batteries.)
Insect repellent
A cool box with several litres of water
Dry foods such as sandwiches, crisps, canned foods and bread.
Tin opener
A small disposable grill
Matches or a lighter
A small saucepan
Plastic knifes, forks and spoons
Wet wipes
Rubbish bags

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