Lost in the desert – with a GPS!

by Shijaz Abdulla on 02.01.2009 at 09:20

My friend Sumaidh and I decided to visit the Liwa Oasis area in the Western region of Abu Dhabi emirate.

This was unfamiliar territory for me, although I knew that it is towards the border with Saudi Arabia. However, since we had my Garmin GPS, we thought that finding the way would be no problem – until we got lost. Thinking

Armed with the GPS device, we set off from Abu Dhabi on the road towards Silah, following the turn-by-turn vocal instructions from the GPS.

After a considerable amount of driving, the device asked us to make an exit to the road beside Tareef bus stand. We exited and traveled for a considerable distance down that road which looked very deserted. We couldn’t find any other vehicles on that route. On both sides, we saw a very barren desert.

The GPS device was asking us to continue down that road so we kept going – until we were flagged down at a military check post!

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Lost in the desert

The soldiers asked us to make a U-turn and go back! I asked them in broken Arabic how we can get to Liwa, and they told me to go back towards Abu Dhabi and make an exit at Abu Abyad. We had already traveled almost an hour beyond that exit!

So off we went – all the way back to Abu Abyad – to make that exit.

Once we made that exit, we were in for another surprise – the device did not know of the road we had taken. The map indicated that we were riding off-road in the desert. Nevertheless, after an hour riding down the road (which, according to the GPS is not a road, just desert), we reached a road on the outskirts of Madinat Zayed that the device understood.

Overall the trip was fun – we saw the Liwa Oasis area, walked into a farm, (and even talked to a farmer) and then drove till ‘Aradah. On our way back we had a peek into the Al Dhafra festival.

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A sand dune of the Rub Al Khali desert near ‘Aradah

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