What is there to do at the weekend in the United Arab Emirates?
Many people that come to visit the UAE often ask what there is to do other than go to the mall – especially in the summer months, when it’s too hot to be outside, camping, hiking, dune bashing, wadi bashing and so on. The truth is that many of the inhabitants leave for a couple of months, so that’s one option. For those that remain, life moves indoors and many a DVD box set is consumed during the boiling hot summer months. The Dubai Institute of ‘Brunch’ sees an increase in attendance, if that’s possible. But for some of us, it’s just business as usual. And with that in mind, after a hard week at work, you want to unwind and do something, even if it is a bit warm outside, we want to be outside.
Diving is a favourite past time of mine, but sometimes, you just don’t want the hassle of having to pack up all your kit, get up a crazy o’clock in the morning and scoot over to the East coast for a couple of boat dives. And a couple of weekends ago, we found the alternative. Matt ‘Hunter’ Wilson and our native Omanarati Hussain, had previously been down to the hunting show in Abu Dhabi and there was a lot of promotion of this Al Forsan complex. We thought that it was new but turns out the place has actually been there for a good few years, but only recently has it started to actively promote itself.
About an hour down the road from Dubai, you come off at Abu Dhabi Airport and then follow the road that runs along side the main highway, you go past the Etihad complex and keep going until you can’t go straight any further, turn left and Al Forsan is on your right hand side. There are signs for visitor parking but to be honest, if there’s a group of you, it’s worth driving to the main gate and pay to get the car in.
Pricing is as follows;
55AED for entry into the park for 1 person (you get 25AED coupon against any activity)
100AED for a car plus 1 person (you can park closer and you get 100AED to spend in F&B vouchers!
So for 365AED we were all in, 2 cars, 75AED of activities and we had lunch taken care of as well with 200AED F&B vouchers. Tidy!
Once you are in you then basically pay for what you want to do. Choose from Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Knee Boarding, Face Planting, Motor Sports, Shooting ( including Archery), Paintball (indoor and outdoor), Horse Riding, as well as a gym, pool and restaurants. Admittedly you have to be a member to use the gym and pool, as this place is actually a working members club as well. Hit any of the links to go through to the site and get pricing etc.
There were 5 of us on our little day trip and it was Matt and Hussain into action first on the Wakeboard park. As you walk in to the whole place you realise just how massive it is, the wakeboard park is a big facility on its own, with two main cables running around two pools as well as a smaller single cable which we saw some people practicing getting air on. To be fair to Hussain, Matt has had a lot more practice, but it was highly entertaining all round really. And it only took a couple of tries to get used to it on a knee board, and after a couple of starting failures on a Wakeboard, he was up and away, at least until the first bend, and then it was off. Takes some getting used to how slack the rope goes, before yanking you forwards again. That’s perhaps the other issue with the setup, is that if you are not that good and aren’t guaranteed to get all the way round the circuit, it’s a long walk back from wherever you fall off!
Even as a spectator though, it’s great fun watching what’s going on an there is a licensed bar too for those that are in need of refreshment, plenty of seating, sun loungers and tables, and is genuinely somewhere you could spend some time chilling out, ,even if you weren’t keen on wakeboarding.
From there though we shifted our attention across to what I was looking forward to. The go karts. Matt decided to sit this one out, so it was Omanarati, Wookie, Therapod and me on the grid, along with a group of about 6 other people who were crazy enough to have suited up in the 38 degree heat!
Safety briefing done, we headed to the karts. I had a Go Pro camera attached to my helmet but haven’t had a chance to get the footage off as yet. The course is a technical course but great fun. On a par with the Autodrome outdoor karting in Dubai. I’m partial to that course, only because I’ve been so often and know it!! This was great fun though and after a rolling start we were straight into it. Your 15 minutes does go far too quickly, but again even with temps slightly cooler, you will sweat a lot in your jump suit, balaclava, helmet and gloves, sitting on a hot little engine! Awesome fun and my not inconsiderate frame meant the Wookie was the fastest out of our group, but only just. Before you do any of the activities you have to register. Which is great as it’s all done electronically. They haven’t got it quite right, because after you have given all your details electronically you then have to give them again on another piece of actual paper! The plus point from the go karting though, for the ultra competitive, is that they will then email you the results, so you can brag/commiserate long after you’ve left the resort!
Some lunch was in order after the karting and so we headed up to the restaurant, you have a choice, and we ended up in the cafe, and the food was really very good. And with the F&B vouchers from entry, lunch for 5 cost us 10AED extra. We parted ways with the
Wookie as he had to get back to service the Millennium Falcon in Dubai but the 4 musketeers decided a spot of archery was in order before we hit the road back. The place wasn’t overly busy the day we were there and I don’t think anyone else had opted for the archery, as there was a little wait whilst they sorted everything out. From there, jumped on a little buggy and they whisked us down to the archery area. The instruction was clear and the safety equipment was on, so off we went. Our instructor was very helpful, but that didn’t stop Hussain from losing a couple arrows way down the track, after missing his target completely. And to compound things, during the competition rounds, stole my arrows.
I haven’t really done any archery previously, but it’s great fun. With a few practice rounds under our belts, our instructor instigated some competition rounds and the targets were shifted back a little further each time – amazing how competitive it gets. But it has to be said, that in the final round when it mattered most, when the targets were at their furthest, Hussain and I were absolutely CrAP. Matt and Therapod took the glory with a joint win in the final.
By that time, arms were hurting from wakeboarding, karting and actually from pulling the bow and so it was time to get on the road. Highly recommend a trip down there for anyone that’s into some outdoor activity – as mentioned it’s fully licensed so even if some of your party aren’t into the activities, they can sit in comfort in the sun with a steady supply of liquid refreshment. We will definitely be heading back during the cooler months. Being just past the airport, it’s really just an hours drive. Get yourself down there!