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16 June, 2003

Saved by a Sheikhmobile

In the midday sun, fully aware of the total insanity of it, I went for a swim on the strip of public beach next to the Ritz Carlton. A scalding experience. After half an hour of swimming out to various buoys and struggling with an irksome current trying to thwart my return to shore, I hit sand once more and dragged myself out.

Too tired to even swim back along to my towel, I staggered up to it, barely able to walk along the flat shoreline with exhaustion and heatshock. Drank a few drops of (now fiery hot) mineral water, pulled on a Dubai logo tshirt, and began the arduous 100 metre ascent up a gently sloping sand dune back to where the Silver Shadow was waiting.

Just as things were on the point of collapse, still at least 50 metres from the car, up rolls a big white Sheikhmobile. The black window is rolled down to reveal an extraordinarily distinguished be-dishdashed gentleman. His offer of a lift is accepted without hesitation.

As approximately fifteen seconds later we arrive at the Shadow, he is extremely gracious about the small foothills of sand now piled up in his passenger seat. Exhaustion prevents me from remembering whether his name was Hassan or Ahmed, but my eternal gratitude regardless.

Next time I visit the beach in the midday height-of-summer sun, I will travel by camel. And take a tent, a power generator, and a portable A/C unit.

Driving back to Guantanamo, the Shadow was stuck behind a sweet water lorry, doing around 10kmph over the Jebel Ali junction. Interesting to think that the load it carries is far more precious and far more vital in this arid, sun-ravaged region than the tankers carrying Emirates Black Gold.



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