Following several successful events during their fledgling year, 2015, the newly formed AMOC UAE opened their 2016 Events Calendar with a ‘Road Run’ quite out of the ordinary.
This was an event held on public roads for members of the AMOC UAE driving their Aston Martin Cars. The drivers were evenly split between those departing from the Dubai Emirate and those from the Abu Dhabi Emirate (6 cars each).
First Section: From departure point to the Jebel Hafeet Summit meet point (Breakfast break).
The group departing Dubai met at a convenient petrol station and headed off at 6am, following the highway East to Al Ain and then to Jebel Hafeet Summit; 175 Klms and 1 hour 30 mins driving later, they arrived at the Mercure hotel and tucked in to a hearty breakfast (they did have some very young ‘co-pilots’ who needed feeding).
The Abu Dhabi Group departed Yas Island at 6am, en route to Jebel Hafeet Summit; 232 Klms and 2 hours 20 mins driving East, via Shahamah, Swaihan, Al Hayer and Al Ain, they arrived at the summit to enjoy a pre-packed breakfast.
Jebel Hafeet is a towering mountain overlooking Al Ain City in the UAE on one side & Oman on the other.
It is approximately 1240 metres high and is ascended via 11 Klms of smooth, bi-directional, switch-back twisting, black top road - bordered on one side by the sheer mountain face and the other (often) by a cliff edge. In the early weekend morning, we encountered cyclists and buses on the way – but it was a scintillating drive up the mountain; the cool winter weather allowed drivers to enjoy having their windows down to hear their crackling and wailing exhausts as they went through the gears, although it was rather too chilly (9 ºC) for the Volante drivers to have their tops down!
After breakfast, the Dubai ‘Runners’ joined the Abu Dhabi ‘Runners’ at the summit and enjoyed the spectacular views before all set off for the next stage of the journey, with a testing run (especially for the brakes) on the way down.
Second Section: Jebel Hafeet to Sahil & the National Car Museum.
We departed the summit at 8.50 am, heading North West for a 193 Klms and 2 hour 30 mins drive - mostly on Highways. This route took us through the red sand dunes of Al Saad, the Fruit & Vegetable Farm Villages of Khazna & Al Khatim, to where the Mafraq – E11 Highway meet, known as ‘Spaghetti Junction’. From there we turned West and then briefly South on to the Sahil Road, where the Museum is located. Here we stopped for some refreshments and to view the World’s largest Land Rover (mock up) straddling an open road, the Worlds largest ‘Globe’ Caravan, and the Guinness Book of Records holder for The World’s largest single axle caravan – which has 8 en-suite bedrooms and 4 garages! This caravan has actually been used in the desert by the Sheikh.
Third Section: National Car Museum to Liwa (Lunch break).
We departed the Car Museum at 11.50am, initially regaining the Westbound Highway, before turning Southbound on to the Desert Highway, (E11); here we encountered road construction taking place to upgrade the current Highway to 4 Lanes of international standards, and we drove via Madinat Zayed town, 208 Klms and arrived in Liwa in 2 hrs 25 mins. We stopped at the Liwa Hotel, located in the town centre on an elevated hill top, to take a lunch break, enjoying local cuisine and international dishes – and took the opportunity to present a Birthday cake to one of the (ahem) ‘younger’ members!
Fourth Section: Desert Section from Liwa to the Moreeb Dunes across The Empty Quarter to Al Ghayathi.
We departed Liwa Hotel at 2.25pm, en route to the Moreeb Dunes; this was a 30 Klms stretch on smooth black top road, which snaked, climbed and descended around the impressive desert sand dune contours. The Rapide led us, at a cracking pace, on a drive which was, to quote one of the drivers: ‘A white knuckle ride, never to be forgotten’! On arrival, we took a short break to marvel at the Moreeb Dunes; red hued sand ‘mountains’ which rise 400 metres at a steep 45 deg angle, we could see the faint tracks of 4x4s which had made the steep ascent, and could make out small moving ‘dots’ on the slopes, which turned out to be people walking up the incline!
In glorious sunshine, we departed the Moreeb Dunes and headed West and then North on the Desert Highway – the Volante drivers finally getting to drop their tops. This road took us into The Empty Quarter, where we were able to abandon speed restraint and the cars hared off into the distance; we were soon spread out over several Klms! On to Al Ghayathi town we went, covering 190 Klms across the fabulous desert landscape, on a perfect black ribbon of road, at the equivalent Kilometres cruising speed, just 13 mph less than the Test Speed of the DB6 on the M1 in 1966 (look it up)!.
This wonderful route is an area that many Great Travelers of yesteryear have famously crossed, albeit at a much slower pace, and it was a great experience to follow in their tracks. However, a rapidly developing sandstorm started to inhibit our pace; visibility decreased as the sand blew across our route, making it difficult to see the carriageway. The Volantes soon had their tops up again, to minimise facial sandblast, but, alas, we all sustained quite a bit of sandblast damage to the frontal areas of the Cars. On arrival at Al Ghayathi Town, we all joined up again for our last fuel fill & some refreshments.
Final Section: Al Ghayathi to Yas Island Viceroy Hotel.
We set off at 5.05pm, Eastbound on the main Saudi-Abu Dhabi Highway. This road is undergoing significant engineering works to make it fit for the very high volumes of traffic which use it. Despite having to negotiate multiple detours, speed restrictions, heavy (mostly slow truck) traffic, we managed to cover the 221 Klms in 2 hours 20 mins; hampered by the darkening skies, and harassed/ambushed by interested other road users, it was a tense last hour of driving!
Finally, we arrived at the Yas Island Viceroy Hotel at 7.25 pm, 13 and a half hrs after we all set off, and with just over 1000 Klms ‘on the clock’. What a day! We had done it, with no breakdowns, accidents or major dramas and everyone said they loved the experience.
Finale The BBQ; the catch up - all the mixed action discussions.
The AMOC UAE 2016 Road Run demonstrates the variety of places in the Abu Dhabi Emirate we are able to go by car. The road infrastructure of the Abu Dhabi Emirate enables comfortable vehicular travel over virtually the whole Emirate in 1 day. That such a drive was completed in Style, by a group of Aston Martin cars highlights just how convenient the road network is, and how usable these cars are.
It is a tribute to the Abu Dhabi Rulers, who direct the Emirate Planners, Designers and Constructors, that such fantastic travel facilities are provided for the ease of travel of the Emirates Residents and its many visitors.
See all the photos from our trip here.