The lure of beaches


Growing up in the UAE, I used to enjoy visiting the numerous beaches, gracing its coastline. Pristine white sands, whispering date palms, and azure blue seas provided the ideal background for a perfect getaway.

Most evenings, after returning from college, I would dash to the nearby Al Khan beach. This was a small, secluded semicircular strip of shoreline swarming with gulls, plovers and little else. At low tide the sand was littered with pretty shells, seaweed and driftwood. Walks along the seashore often threw up unexpected but exciting treasures like a rare shell or a conch.

A few decrepit fisherman’s cottages lined a portion of the beach while at the far end, stood an ancient fort. A tiny watchtower made of bamboo and woven palm fronds, offered unimpeded views of the horizon.

From this excellent vantage point one could see the massive oil tankers dotting the high seas and the industrious little dhows sailing shorewards, after a long day of fishing. 

Fridays, the official day off in the UAE, were often spent on the Ajman beach. On this day, the otherwise quiet beach would be thronged with a steady stream of people representing almost every country in the world. 

The sunny weather all year round, also afforded the best conditions for barbequing.

The latest BBQ machines to the humble coal spits in the sand, would give off the smell of roasted meat. Edging the beach, ice cream vans would line along the road.

A day on the beach would never be quite complete without a scoop of ice cream.

On long holidays, either during Eid or the national day, we would drive down to Khor Fakkan which is around 180 km from Dubai. After exploring the surrounding wadis (oasis), we would invariably be drawn to its pristine beaches. 

Colourful jet-skis and surfboards would slice through the continuous breakers rolling in from the Indian Ocean. A quick bite at a shawarma stand, a camel ride and exploring the rugged coastline on a fishing boat were a must on these trips.

The memories of the lovely times I spent at the various beaches in the UAE will remain etched in my heart forever.

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