Now you can be an armchair desert tourist, thanks to Google’s having mounted a camera on a camel to document some areas of what has always been known as the Liwa, an Oasis, in one of the desert areas in the United Arab Emirates. Liwa is located in the northern edge of the magnificent Rub al Khali desert which covers much of neighboring Saudi Arabia and is part of the broader Arabian Desert. Here’s the article I noticed on YouTube, including a video. Where will Google Street View go next?
All landscapes have their inherent dimensions of beauty. I have always been drawn to desert landscapes for their sheer vastness, the striking variety of windblown sand patterns and the enveloping silence under bright starry night skies. I’m fortunate to have gone desert camping on camelback in the red washed plains of Wadi Rum, Jordan where parts of Lawrence of Arabia were filmed, and in the United Arab Emirates’ Khor Fakkan. I couldn’t resist an impulsive skinny dip in an oasis by the Hatta Fort in the UAE. My first desert camping trip–thanks to a relative who fancied himself an amateur archaeologist–was truly camping out in sleeping bags on rocks–warmed by the day’s sun and soon to become much cooler throughout the night….no scorpion encounters thankfully. The second two trips in the Emirates were both catered by the Sheraton–so ahem….a bit of expat entertainment not quite roughing it. I remember the Brits got quite smashed around the fire and how bone chillingly cold it was at night, as I lay curled up and shivering on a cot wearing only the day’s clothing and light blankets.
Can’t resist an anecdote apropos: I was in the northern Negev desert visiting the home of a Bedouin journalist friend and his family. Their encampment was near the town of Beersheba. They didn’t have running water or any formal built structures. (In a typically galling irony, his brother worked as a pool lifeguard at Ben Gurion University and nearby Israeli settlements enjoyed hydroponic agriculture production and gorgeous gardens….down a dusty path to a decrepit bus ride…and a world away.) In any case, nature called during the night and I crept out of the concrete hut and made my way to the outhouse navigating gingerly along the rubbly path. On arrival, I will never forget looking up to contemplate the majesty of the night sky while visiting the loo that night.
Photo credits: Google Street View and Livincool.com