Post Number: 32
|Posted on Friday, 13 March, 2009 - 22:17: |
The Tour has finished and here is my last excerpt.
All the cars are now at the Jebel Ali Port, Dubai with Cars UK personnel, waiting to be loaded into containers headed for various parts of the world; UK, Australia, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Singapore and more. Reflecting Dubai’s long history of merchandise trading, it is appropriate we have ended the Arabian Gulf Adventure Tour 2009 here, trading our memories, friendships and photographs via our motor machines. Forgetting its current financial strife, Dubai has been a busy port of call since the days of Mesopotamia.
Now let me explain our journey here and take you back to our final border crossings from Oman to re-enter the UAE. The moral of this tale is not to travel on a public holiday. Departing attractive Muscat with its irrigated lawns and petunias lining the highways and backdropped by desert mountains, we continued our planned route to Hatta enjoying complimentary Oman Oil fuel. Four hours later we arrived at the border under a fierce sun along with hundreds of local cars and trucks who were travelling on a Muslim holiday. Border staff were reduced due to holiday time. Nearly 45 mins later we had crawled the 400 metres to Passport control with rising engine temperatures and most of the vintage cars with their bonnets hinged open. Soon it was car carnage in our designated truck area, as a modern RR or two dropped their coolant and a couple of WO Bentleys were pushed in. All of our passports were bundled together and very slowly they were handed out individually with the correct former exit and new entry stamps for UAE. Because of our controlled bedlam both with bureaucracy and with available parking space for over 70 cars, trucks lined up for miles behind us and local cars had trouble leaving the border post, so in the end we were waved on without our car papers being checked, once we received our passports.
This was probably why, after lunch at the comfortable Fort Hatta Hotel with iced cold towels and sun umbrellas, six soldiers were holding up the traffic to check papers. Again we crawled with bonnet open keeping an eye on the temperature gauge. To pass the time we traded greeting with local Indian truck drivers and appeared on numerous mobile phone photographs.
Once the soldiers spied a group of Tour cars in the queues, suddenly all traffic was waved on and our late afternoon entry into Dubai was uneventful.
Atlantis Palm hotel was our home for the final three nights and soon its nautical theme grew on me. If I was a child I’d be in Waterworld heaven. The city has been shrouded in white heat haze obscuring the skyline of familiar modern skycrapers. The most interesting historic region has been the Gold and Spice Souks. On ‘Dubai Creek‘ nearby, many dhows from Iran and Irak brought in cartons which were then offloaded onto large barrows or bicycle carts with seemingly no customs or inspections. On the return trip, Iran bound dhows are then loaded with washing machines, second hand cars etc . The days of trading pearls and shellfish are long gone and today Dubai’s oil has run out, (unlike Abu Dhabi) and their economy is in strife. Building construction has slowed, tourism is down and Dubai is buying oil from Iran and Irak.
I was hoping to bring you mechanical info from Tony and Denis but they have found a car whose owner flew out early this morning and whose mate forgot to take it to the Port. Then there was the vintage machine which has been on a flat bed since Fort Hatta and again the owner flew out without organizing payment for the truck to convey his car to the Port.
Within such a large group every personality type is represented. There are strong murmurs about vehicles which were not well prepared and it seemed the owners came out for a jolly holiday with little mechanical knowledge and there are those who treated the mechanics with disdain and uttered not a word of thanks. In Australia, we never have a sweep vehicle with mechanics e.g. Australian Overlanders, Register Tours, resulting in us having well prepared vehicles.
I’ll tell you more when it comes to hand.
Meanwhile I thank you all for your interest. The Phantom 11 has done well with the only minor problem being the magneto spark breaking down at low speeds. This will be remedied when it arrives home after its sea journey in a couple of months.. I know that if we had encountered major mechanical difficulties, there would have been a wealth of knowledge and support from you all. This has been a fascinating motoring adventure into the Middle East, beyond the usual tourist or business haunts.
Until next time,
Jeanne Eve. Sydney.
Post Number: 31
|Posted on Monday, 09 March, 2009 - 23:38: |
Who Knows David! I expect it was because of shambolic bureaucracy and no-one able to make the final decision. Our fearless leader, Peter Cameron who is the quintessential Brit who'd be at home whether in bowler hat or safari suit, has spent his second day, at least, talking to various Embassy staff. Poor man, he must be exhausted.
Our last day in Oman and what joy our visit to this county has been. Flying to Europe, many Aussies apparently stop-over in the Middle East. Golden Tours Oman, www.gt-oman.com will pick up in Dubai and drive you into Oman, or you could fly onto Muscat, for an individually designed tour. I wish we had more time here to explore the coastline, historic forts and especially the southern region around Salalah. Omanis are keen to develop tourism and now realize the importance of preserving culture and history instead of rushing headlong into western consumerism.
Yesterday we took a city tour to visit the modern Grand Mosque with its Austrian marble and crystal, Fish market, colourful Souk with some Omani silver and objets d'art but mainly Indian fabrics and handicrafts and finally to the Bait Al Zubair museum, the latter filled with Germans from their cruise boat.
Our private driver Mohammed, a local Omani, explained that free education is available to all; city folk and Bedouins, and he’s noticed subsequent social changes with increased diversity of thought. It is still a strongly male dominated society, but only one Oman Oil Marketing Company executive refused to shake women’s hands. Overall we have been met with charm and friendship.
Interestingly, Australian contacts are already established, e.g. the head of Bentley dealership has his daughter studying at an Australian University.
Omanis know how to party. We have seen promotional tourist slides at a ‘Welcome to Oman’ dinner hosted by Oman Tourism, enjoyed an evening Omani feast on a beach complete with our previous dance troupe, courtesy of Oman Oil and last night a spectacular black tie dinner hosted by Zubair Corporation and Bentley dealership under the stars. From our group, over 35 Rolls-Royce and Bentleys encircled the hotel’s amphitheatre with two modern Bentleys on each side of the stage and an impressive line of W.O. Bentleys guarding the red carpet entrance. For a wonderful finale, champagne and wine flowed as it was not an official government function and we danced on the green lawn to the British 'Rat Pack' band.
In our midst we have a flamboyant Arabic speaking Egyptian gentleman, who explained that local dignitary Sheik A.A.K. introduced him to the world of Rolls-Royce. Today's lunch was at the elderly Sheik's large home with his family; once again enormous hospitality extended to us. We were all seated around a rectangular room finishing off with fresh dates, halwa and fruit. After the minute cups of cardamon Arabic coffee poured from the traditional Omani coffee pot with its ibis bill shaped long spout, a uniformed staff member handed around a smoking sandalwood silver burner for us to inhale the fragrances. Certainly cleared the head.
From 6pm tonight for 24 hours, no alcohol will be served in the hotel’s public spaces due to 'Milad Al Nabi', the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday. No problem for us as we are expecting a horror of a day tomorrow with border crossing, long distance and rush hour into congested Dubai.
Off now to pack the car tonight. I hope to bring you more mechanical notes for this large group in next email or so.
Farewell to Oman and back to UAE.
Post Number: 871
|Posted on Saturday, 07 March, 2009 - 09:33: |
Hi Jeanne & John,
This event has inspired your most comprehensive and informative contributions yet - obviously your experiences have been memorable for both the highs and lows.
Good luck with the impending border crossings - the missing exit stamps may have been intended to cause problems on re-entry requiring some form of "assisted resolution" at the local level .
Post Number: 30
|Posted on Friday, 06 March, 2009 - 23:26: |
Dear David, Ellen and everyone,
John was expecting the spark plugs to be carbonized but they were surprisingly clean. This morning he removed the magneto to clean teh bushes and it seems to be functioning better. No other problems. We are running cool despite hot temps in mid to high 30's in desert regions - in Sydney, he insulated the fuel pipes and installed a heat shield for autovac. The P111 overheats from time to time and one of Corniche convertibles sustained a lethal finish with a broken water pump and consequently two fixed pistons. One of WO Bentleys has replaced successfully its magneto with own spare.
Will receive full story from mechanics about cars they've assisted at end of this tour.
Before leaving exotic sounding Nizwa yesterday, we explored its well restored Fort; one of oldest in Oman built by Imam Sultan bin Saif bin Malik al Ya'arubi who was famed for driving the Portuguese from Oman in 1650. The imposing cobalt blue and gold dome of the 2nd century Nizwa mosque, shimmered through the rounded ramparts. An excellent exhibition in the cool Fort's chambers educated me in the use of indigo masks worn by women according to tribes, region and status. I have seen one worn in the country - similar to a plain Venetian eye mask with an upside down T to cover the nose and mouth.
Oman is known for its silverware and ornate wooden doors and its Souk had separate halls for dead fish, live donkeys and chickens,fruit and vegetables most of which is imported except for carrots and turnips.
I would have liked to have explored the environs of Nizwa further especially its 'Green Mountains' where fruit and roses are grown, the latter for rose water. Despite being mainly desert, Oman has the Aflaj; a complex system of waterways, often underground which uses gravity to channel water long distances from souces at base of the Hajar mountains firstly for drinking water then for use in mosques, bathing areas and finally for plantations. Perhaps Oz can use this system for the Murray/Darling river system....
Everyone has been friendly. Even in the Souk, men of all ages will have eye contact and not only say 'Morning' but also,'Welcome' with no hassling. I have seen very few women- only in occasional family cars. Yesterday was holiday and fathers took their young sons shopping.
Have seen one McDonalds in Multan, but was amused in Nizwa with the 'Hungry Bunny' restaurant.
This is a fascinating country with a population of 2.6 million in a land of oil and gas covering 309.5 thousand sq.ms. Since 1970, Sultan Qaboos bin Said has been a peaceful ruler and taken Oman from a closed and isolated society to a modern and prosperous one where Arabic and English is spoken. There is no personal income tax and a moderate corporate tax. It appears the Zubair corporation, private enterprise, controls everything from special oil and gas projects to automotive, tourism, health, education, publishing, museum and more. I'll learn more in next day or so.
Zubair is one of our sponsors and we are staying in their lavish coastal resort, the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah which has three hotels on 100 acres. It is about an hour out of Muscat. We went for an early morning swim this morning in the Gulf of Oman - cooler water than Bondi Beach and the life guard blew his whistle to warn me away from the waves I was trying to body surf, so I returned to quieter waters whilst onshore a gardener raked the sand below a palm tree. Another day forecast in low 30's, cooled by sea breezes.
Oman has always been a sea faring and trading nation for copper and frankincense and was mentioned in Mesopotanian texts 4000 years ago. Nomadic Bedouins lived in the desert with oases, wadis and aflaj for water and have 160 words for 'camel'. Arabian lepoards are supposed to roam in remote mountainous regions and there are dolphins and turtles at sea.
It is ideally situated as a gateway to Africa and the Gulf and lies between Europe and Asia. Its mountains and deserts remind me of Iran and the dancers on our first Omani day were Somalian in appearance.
Right now I am accessing wi-fi in the hotel lobby which is scented by frankincense and listening to soothing electronic violin music; imagine belly dance music at 1 mph. I know it seems impossible.
Off to an Omani themed dinner tonight. Will write again before we leave on Tuesday for a horrific 500km run to Dubai crossing two border posts. In the shmozzle when leaving UAE, police took all our passports but did not add an exit stamp , so could be interesting when we re-enter. Hopefully it won't be a midnight affair. So a few restful few days here in Muscat is welcomed.
Until then, Jeanne
Post Number: 10
|Posted on Friday, 06 March, 2009 - 09:48: |
We are loving reading your journal and note the improvement in your experiences now you are in Oman.
The efficiency of the paper air filter is satisfying, I wonder if the over rich running has sooted up the plugs?
Ellen and David
Post Number: 29
|Posted on Friday, 06 March, 2009 - 00:50: |
Oops, you are correct -there is no 's'. The journal is being written by various participants and not I. When it is up to date, it will give another angle to my reports presented here.
I love Oman and its friendly people.As time is short, I've copied exerpts from my diary.
After the generous hospitality of the Qataris, the unco-operation of the Saudis, and the indifference from the Emiratis, the Omani welcome was extraordinary. For a start, who wouldn’t have their hearts lifted by many young Omar Sharifs smiling with thumbs up, yelling encouragement as they drove past? Cars flashed lights and people waved as soon as we entered the Sultanate of Oman which continued throughout the day.
The Hajar Mountains which lack vegetation and are the same ochre brown of the gravelly desert, provide a dramatic backdrop against a deep blue hot sky. Small towns nestled at their foothills with attractive square homes, two or three storey high in creams, honeys and blues with castellated or latticed edging, reflecting creativity. Similarly there is increased individuality in the choice of fabric and patterns of the men’s turbans. Elsewhere , the traditional white dishdashs are worn with either red checked or white head scarves with a black roping. Here in Oman turbans may be cotton, silk or Kashmir wool depending on the social occasion with patterns and different colours.
Abu Dhabi has hundreds of kilometres of irrigation pipes for trees, palms and grass along the highways. Coupled with billboards and portraits of the Crown Prince dotted around the country, one feels as though there is a benevolent dictator determined to tame the desert. However in Oman, people are more relaxed and cheerful and certainly have had greater experience with tourism. Despite this, there was still chaos with passports and stamped papers at the Hili border post, but then processing 150 odd people, arriving in one group would test any system, especially for a country new to motor tours. Again there were police escorted convoys between border posts, but the Omani police are more friendly, subtle and helpful.
Omanoil are the main sponsors and they provided a rousing welcome with local dancers with bagpipes and drums. Think of an Arabic highland jig danced to the beat of African drums mixed with the energetic swirling of bagpipe notes. You couldn’t sleep through it. We have an Omanoil charge card good for 600 litres of free fuel, couple of T-shirts and maps.
Even leaving Abu Dhabi at 7.30 am and bypassing lunch sponsored by Zubair Corporation at the Ibri Oasis Hotel, we still had 11 hours in the car. Too long but psychologically it was easy, enjoying new landscapes and historic landmarks as we sped by on fast well surfaced roads through Bahla and Nizwa. In the 6th and 7th centuries, Nizwa was the capital of Oman and was the centre for trade between the coastal and interior regions. Today we passed walled forts, watch towers and a couple of large mosques.
We’ve instantly improved the fuel efficiency from an awful 6mpg to the habitual 9mpg by replacing the paper air filter which was clogged up with very fine sand dust and running only on the coil. At least we know the air filter worked and protected the engine. And we can now leave roundabouts still in top gear.
Until next time,
Post Number: 68
|Posted on Wednesday, 04 March, 2009 - 06:22: |
I think the correct URL is arabiangulfadventure, ie. without the 's' on the end.
However Jeanne's journal does not appear to be there yet?
Post Number: 28
|Posted on Tuesday, 03 March, 2009 - 22:08: |
In answer to your question David re reaction to vintage cars, there was lots of enthusiasm in Qatar but mostly indifference here in UAE. Maybe I was unaware due to having to be eyes, ears and navigator when we arrived. Certainly here in the hotel, when a couple of us posed our cars in front of hotel entrance, you could see tourists rushing down the steps to be photographed with them. You know the drill, leaning against the wing with sticky fingers or steering wheel! But it's good to realize they are appreciated.
Expect we will receive a different and more welcoming reaction in Oman.
Relaxed day being tourists, walking inside the gloriously decorated, newly opened mosque after us women shrouded ourselves in black abbeyas and scarves. Horrible things.This domed, pillared and minareted fairytale building was designed by an Italian company and took 10 years to build. It can hold 60,000 people and is second in size to Saudi Arabia's. Italian marble, inlaid with vines and flowers, covers the floors and walls and the inner prayer room has the largest Iranian handwoven one- piece carpet in the world.
From there we visited the truly bling bling world of the Gold Souk (market,) a vast clean fish Souk, the produce market with 70 varieties of local dates and all other imported fruit and vegs.Consequently food is very expensive. A separate Iranian market sold household goods such as large cooking pots, ceramic flower pots, plastic chairs and more. Many modern shopping malls also exist in this metropolis.
Petunias, bougainvilleas, trees and green grassed parks abound, with imported soil,all irrigated with desalinated water.
The royal family is extremely wealthy with 2000 members.The current Sheik has 18 siblings and unsurprisingly various relatives hold the positions of power. Abu Dhabi is the capital of UAE so has been less affected by the global financial crises because meetings and exhibitions are held here. However the Royal family has injected heaps of $$$ to the local banks to keep the economy afloat whereas small companies with foreign bank backing have folded.
An early night tonight with a long 521 km.drive tomorrow to Nizwa, Oman via two border posts. Too far for comfort in vintage cars but the following day is a rest day. The Silver Ghost is now proceeding well but the Shadow's repaired petrol tank has not yet arrived. There is Arabic time when hours become greatly lengthened and ETAs disappear.
The Journal is now up and running on www.arabiangulfadventures.co.uk for more insights.
Talk to you again in a couple of days.
Post Number: 9
|Posted on Tuesday, 03 March, 2009 - 18:54: |
Thanks again Jeanne for your fascinating diary. What a good thing John had fitted a paper air filter! The border officialdom must be horrific - you seem to have the patience of Job (did he live somewhere in the Gulf region?) A pity about the Ghost I wonder if it had Steve Litton's Air filter.
Ellen and David
Post Number: 868
|Posted on Tuesday, 03 March, 2009 - 12:29: |
Hi Jeanne and John,
Wow - what an experience and I can understand the "no next time" edict. This gives us a greater understanding of how things happen in this part of the world.
Were any of the participants game enough to have a "dummy spit" even if it was private rather than public? I think I would have done so in these circumstances.
The use of detergent to attract and hold abrasive material to stop paintwork damage is quite sound - the best protection against abrasive materials is the material itself. The detergent dries to form a sticky surface which then bonds to the first dust particles to come in contact with the film. The dust particles build up and do not move when subject to the air flowing over the bodywork at speed. All future dust particles will then hit the fixed particles and bounce off without coming in contact with the paintwork to cause scratching. Once the dusty environment is left behind, a quick wash with a low-pressure hose dissolves the detergent so the adherent dust particles are released and are washed away with the water. I first heard about this trick from the quarry/coal truck operators in the Illawarra region as I could never explain why their trucks had pristine paintwork despite the dirty conditions they worked in.
I would be interested in your comments about the reaction of ordinary people to the cars especially the older ones - I always remember the Export Manager of one of my employers describing the market characteristics of the Middle East in the following terms "There is no word for repair in Arabic - replace Yes but repair No" and then describing late model cars being left as junk on the side of the road after breaking down. Does this still happen?
Take care and keep posting
Post Number: 27
|Posted on Tuesday, 03 March, 2009 - 00:44: |
Marhabtain (a double welcome to you)
It is wintry here with cold winds whipping up waves and sand stinging the legs of passers-by.
Now for petrolhead details.
To prepare the P11, John organized for new brakes and re-built the rocker gear. Most importantly he installed a paper air filter. So far it is using very little water and oil.It was jerky (my vocabulary) at low speeds- especially taking off from traffic lights in congested Abu Dhabi traffic. This morning John found a little carbon on the rotor arm and a carbonized magneto but no sand. After careful cleaning, the P11 is now running as smooth as yoghurt and hummous.
One Silver Shadow has a holed petrol tank after running over an object and a few modern cars have lost their air conditioning. Not heard anything else but Tony Copsey has promised to spill me the beans at the end of this Tour and I will relate all, for educational purposes.
For hotel connoisseurs, the Emirates Palace has 102 elevators, 128 kitchens and pantries,employs 1800 people from 49 countries, has 40 meeting/conference rooms and a ballroom holding 2400 theatre chairs but only 394 hotel rooms. It is so vast there are staff everywhere giving directions and outside, golf buggies zip guests around the grounds. Some of the older participants are having trouble with long walks down corridors, under domes, past reflection pools and real palm trees and that's just finding breakfast, but this hotel was the only one to provide security parking. We are parked under the stars but no other guests realize we are here.
But how long can this last? For example, tourism is down 40% in Dubai and is in a parlous financial state. I have just examined the masterplan for the Saadiyat Cultural Centre, Abu Dhabi, with models of the proposed jumbled block Guggenheim Museum, the new 3D curvy stingray shaped Performing Arts and the wide domed Louvre. Incidentally, the population in Abu Dhabi was 930,000 in 2007 and expected to rise to 2 million in 2020.Will Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed, who's giant portrait adorns various walls, be able to realize his dreams?
Happy to answer any questions.
Post Number: 26
|Posted on Monday, 02 March, 2009 - 22:09: |
So reassuring to have your comments and know others read this. Thanks, love the humour and much appreciated.
Right now I am typing from my room at the opulent and HUGE Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi, which is 1km from wing to wing and has two white Phantoms as airport courtesy cars.But this is our reward after surviving 15 hours waiting at borderposts under the sun and duststorms (from Qatar into Saudi Arabia thence into UAE) before harrowing night driving to arrive in Jebel Dhanna hotel at 4-6.30am. We had to break the Aussie safety rule 'Stop, Revive, Survive' and everyone was pushed to their limit of alertness.
Firstly let's begin with some political history. After the first Gulf War a few years ago, Saudi Arabia annexed the southern base of the Qatar Peninsular for sea access, resulting in a 133km transit from the Bu Samara border post to Bathaa in UAE. Herein lay our problem.
After four days in Doha,the Saudi Arabian embassy returned our stamped passports with a curious sticker on the cover,'Thunder Speed East'.Our fearless leader had spent hours in the S.A. embassy in London obtaining 1-day visas for both left and right hand drive vehicles. Perhaps next time he'd go to Riyadh and talk personally to the Minister of Internal Affairs, but there will never be a next time.
Leaving Doha on 8-lane highways through flat desert with occasional dromedaries and smelly 'Sewage Water' trucks, we headed for the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia arriving at the border post around 9am. One earlybird showed his rego and insurance and was waved out of Qatar and onto the S.A. border post. All was OK until the car inspection, when an officer noticed that it was right hand drive. This is forbidden so it was a U-turn back to Qatar for the Corniche 1V DHC. Somehow the SA border knew nothing about the Tour. The official version is that the letter of authority issued to the Saudi border by their embassy in Doha appears not to have stipulated that our cars could proceed in transit despite being predominantly right hand drive. I have other theories but for fear of beheading,I will not print them here.
Fortunately there was a cafe and well stocked supermarket at Qatar border post which at least benefited from our presence over 8 hours, as we waited for permission to enter SA in the truck holding area. Doha hotel had supplied us with lunch boxes. Alfardan and Qatar Airway head honchos tried their luck but finally His Highness the Emir of Qatar influenced his SA counterparts. We only had a 24 - hour visa and time was running out. Essentially everyone remained in high spirits catching up with friends and gossip but Peter Cameron was sorely tested. Clutching still more new Qatar exit documents, at 5pm we set off in an eerie, ghostly light as the wind whipped up a sandstorm. Nightime was an hour or so away.
Desert sandstorm tip: To prevent sand damage, smear detergent over the front of your truck. None of us followed suit but the wind gradually decrease leaving behind dustier air, perfect magnet for air filters and Ghost magnetos.
The SA bureaucratic process was Go-Slow interrupted by call to Prayers and only men were allowed to present documents. One piece of paper received four stamps then handed in at end of process; John Cleese and Monty Python, where are you?! Four hours later after every car and person was processed, six police cars led us in convoy at hypnotic 30 MPH and slower but only after several Stop-Starts; move 100 yards then stop. Shut down engine. Fuel off. Wait. Start again. Vintage cars don't like this treatment and it was Amateur Hour. The desert wind was cold and blew around plastic and styrofoam rubbish, road surface was poor and we still had no idea what was ahead. Like Cinderella but with buzzing police cars and a myriad of flashing lights instead of a charming Prince, we arrived at the Saudi exit post on the strike of midnight. Our visas had expired. This time it was a case of gleefully presenting car papers and passports from the lady passenger in the left seat, as we drove past the border control cabine. Now it was a rush to the UAE borderpost where we blearily filled in more forms and had our right iris photographed.My first time. More fun as we manouvered our beasts around the small car park whilst jostling with many local citizenry who were also travelling inter-country at two in the morning. There was only one car- at- a -time exit gate for our 70 cars plus local. By now we were automatons. I saw a police car approaching nearby, lights flashing.'Go John, just get out of this joint' as we sped out into UAE with relief.
By now everyone was extremely fatigued and it was dangerous driving.
The ex-Aussie based Silver Ghost was not designed to have sand in its magneto and to run for hours on headlights, so hitched a ride on a flat-bed.
Unlike SA roads, UAE had marked and well maintained surfaces allowing for some speed. When John and I had decided to stop and sleep in the car at the next truckies layby, the sign for the Jebel Dhanna Resort loomed out of the darkness. We have no odometer so need to guess the distances. It was 4.30 am when we unloaded and the staff were superb getting us to bed ASAP. For some, the night was longer. As there was an oil refinery nearby whose business men regularly check-in, some of our Tour group(those with modern fast cars) were allocated rooms at the Dhafra Beach Hotel, on an island accessible by a ferry.
The next day's lunch became breakfast and we briefly appreciated the beauty of this beach Resort's landscaped gardens overlooking the turquoise of the Arabian Gulf, before tackling the 260 km run into busy Abu Dhabi arriving at chaotic rush hour. Dehydration, heat stress and eye fatigue had affected many. But Aussies know how to handle the sun.
Right now it's late aftenoon and my driver wants to walk along the sea shore with 100's of cranes perched on constuction skyscrapers in the distance, so I'll continue this later, outlining how John prepared our P11 and the minor mechanical issues which have surfaced but easily remedied. We have two rest days - thank goodness.
Misaa an nor (May your evening be bright).
Post Number: 8
|Posted on Saturday, 28 February, 2009 - 13:31: |
Ellen and I are loving reading your posts on the tour Jeanne, please keep them up as time permits.
Regards to you both.
Post Number: 865
|Posted on Saturday, 28 February, 2009 - 12:25: |
Hi Jeanne and John,
Thank you for the updates.
The resolution of the problem of the lady owners driving in Saudi Arabia will be most interesting. Somehow I don't think a reverse "Mrs Doubtfire" is going to be successful due to the problem of sporting a beard similar to the locals.
Post Number: 25
|Posted on Saturday, 28 February, 2009 - 04:04: |
Sabah al Khair (Good morning)
O joy, we have wheels again. After a burst of extra juice to the battery, the P11 fired up and purred away. Relief all round and Roy Burt, GM of Alfardan Group (RR/BMW) put in at least 10 hours personally at the Port to release our car. What a great guy. After 5 years in Dubai and 10 in Doha he knows how to get around all the strict rules and regulations. He will soon return to UK but he and his wife visited Sydney as part of RR incentive/rewards. Good to see Sydneytown, Gold Coast and Barrier Reef are considered top rewards!
Our first day's driving out of the obstacle course of city Doha with its construction sites and speedy 4-wheel drives. North along the hot road to Hussein Alfardan's farm which consisted of a private zoo with oryx and zebras as well as domestic animals with enclosures full of rabbits, pigeons, goats, ducks and geese. In this dusty, flat, pinky-beige sandy landscape, his farm is truly a green oasis with low trees, manicured lawns, petunias, bouganvillea, cabbages and date palms. And probably more.
On the way we detoured to the coastal town of Al Khor with anchored dhows laden with empty,round fishing traps. Friday is holy day and we arrived around midday in time for the muezzin’s call to prayers. Men were walking in from everywhere towards the mosque.
With a silent whoop of joy and a frisson of excitement, I relished driving through an exotic land observing new customs, architecture and food among friendly people who hooted, waved or made thumbs -up signs with wide smiles as they overtook us.
Tomorrow we depart friendly and dynamic Qatar and head for United Arab Emirates via the Southern border posts of Saudi Arabia. Here is their conundrum. We have three women crews who own their cars. Male participant have been allocated to drive into Saudi because women are not permitted to drive. Also it is mandatory for the owner of the car to be driving.... Go figure.
Even though it is Arabian winter, we are expecting hot and very dry trips. Apparently fuel vapourization has been problematic for a couple of cars today. 350 kms tomorrow for our destination in Jebel Dhanna before a 265 drive into Abu Dhabi.So I won't write for another couple of days or so.
But now it is time for me to pore over my photos-especially those of the two latest Phantom Convertibles parked outside our waterfront dining last night. My favourite was cream with crimson roof. And the bare aluminium bonnet gleamed! I'm beginnning to become blase about the number of Phantoms around. Such a different world here.
Sabah an noor ( may your morning be bright)
Post Number: 24
|Posted on Thursday, 26 February, 2009 - 20:20: |
Will post messages whenever possible. Apparently our 20foot container has been found on the bottom of a berthed boat in Port Doha--don't ask me how or why it was there. Throughout the night, 3000 containers were offloaded to lift ours out and are now being re-loaded in order for access to our car. This procedure has thwarted all the boats waiting to offload, as you can imagine. We are fortunate that there are influential people here , namely sponsors of the Tour, Alfardan Group (RR dealership) who have been fantastic spending hours on our case and Chairman of Qatar Airways.Hopefully car will be released this afternoon then we will discover whether it was tied down correctly in Sydney, electrics switched off etc because we were not given access to see the car loaded into container... So far this is not looking good although the other Aussie cars were delivered OK.
All frustrating. But it has given us lots of people- watching time in our hotel lobby. Love seeing the local women in their full abbeyas embroidered with Swarovski diamonds or bands of gold and silver braiding plus designer heels and handbags and conspicuous jewellery.Lots of wealth.But labour is all provided by Philipino, Indian and Bangladeshi people.
Interesting geography here with Iran across the Gulf and Saudi Arabia next door.Another sponsor, Commercial Bank, thoughtfully provided us women with wide scarves required for the border into Saudi Arabia.
We've just heard that the R-R agent has our car but cannot start it because the battery was not turned off in Sydney as John directed.Dead flat battery. We are not sure if the ignition was turned off so whether the coil is burnt out too.
We cannot go into Port because Saudi Arabia Embassy have all our passports for processing. Believe P11 is soon to arrive at hotel on a flat bed truck so we have this afternoon to sort things out before drive tomorrow. O boy. This does not look good for CarsUK and its agent in Sydney. We have not used them before but they were the designated shipping agents for this Tour. Moral of story; always demand to put your own car into its container.
Ma's salaamah (Go in safety)
Post Number: 864
|Posted on Thursday, 26 February, 2009 - 11:28: |
Hi Jeanne and John,
Once more we await your event reports with great anticipation. This event should bring a lot of new and interesting experiences which will be interest to us all.
Best wishes for a successful event and kind regards.
Post Number: 23
|Posted on Wednesday, 25 February, 2009 - 19:36: |
Marhaba! (Welcome)from Qatar
I wish to let you know about a tour that is running from Feb 21st to March 14th in the Middle East for 70 R-R and Bentley motor cars under the guidance of tour operator Peter Cameron who organized tours in Malaysia 2000 and Borneo 2005. This tour leaves from Qatar across desert roads via border posts in Saudi Arabia to Abu Dhabi,UAE thence across mountains to Muscat in Oman finishing in Dubai.
John Matheson and I have our 1934 Phantom 11 here in Port Doha- at least we think we have because even though all 69 other cars have been unloaded and delivered to participants from UK, Europe,a few from Melbourne and one from Perth, our car is still in its container on board a docked boat. One can only assume that the container was offloaded en route as it was packed mid - December...Fortunately Saudi Arabia want 5 days to process all passports so we have been lucky with extra time. Maybe today we will see our car.
I have listed all participating models -see below.
The R-R dealership, Alfardan Group, in Qatar has been generous and most helpful but we have heard that R-R has pulled out of all involvement in UAE - economic crisis? Oman is also welcoming us with open arms.
Qatar is fascinating, with more liberal views than some of its neighbours and a mixture of traditional with modern. Lots of construction sites, new Museum of Islamic Art spanning three continents and 13 centuies, old Souk Wakif with alleyways selling clothing,perfumes, old wares, spices, silent budgies and wing clipped cockatoos and crimson rosellas..(smuggled out of Oz??). Sunny but very hazy from dust storms off desert. Doha is home to Al Jazeera News and there is also the Doha Centre for Media Freedom. Watch Qatar in the future if survive with enough oil and gas $$.
Modern cars predominate in this group of 70 shipped in from UK, Singapore, Australia. The most popular models are the Corniche Convertibles and Silver shadows, the WO Bentleys and modern Bentley GTC coupes with only a quarter of the cars being pre-war. For enjoyment of hot climes, and new landscapes the majority are either tourers or drophead convertibles. With such a large group it will be interesting to view the group dynamics and to observe whether participants will cluster according to age of vehicle, nationality or marque. It will also be a good test of model reliability.
Pre war R-R = 2 Silver Ghosts, 25/30, P11 & P111
Pre-war Bentleys = 8 W.O. Bentleys, 2 Bentley 3.5 litres and a Bentley Special.
Post-war = 2 R-types,
2 Silver Dawns
1 Silver Wraith
2 Silver Clouds and 1 Cloud 111 Flying Spur
14 Corniche Convertibles
5 Silver Shadows
3 Silver Spirits
2 Silver Spur
Bentleys 1 Continental
2 Bentley T1
4 Bentley Turbo R
1 Continental R
1 Flying Spur
6 Bentley GTC coupes
Assalam alaykum (peace be upon you)
Until next time, Jeanne Eve.