THE KING OF THE DESERT

WORDS/PHOTOS: MIA MEDAKOVIĆ-TOPALOVIĆ

ARRIVING AT THE DUNES IS QUITE AN UNBELIEVABLE SITE! IT ALMOST LOOKS LIKE AS IF YOU ARE ON A DIFFERENT PLANET. LAST YEAR, I HAD THE LUCK TO BE PART OF A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE RIGHT IN THE DESERT IN ABU DHABI. IT TRULY WAS AN EXCELLENT AND ONE-OF-A-KIND EXPERIENCE! I’M VERY GRATEFUL TO ABU DHABI ADVENTURES FOR SUCH A PROFESSIONAL, ORGANIZED, AND MOST OF ALL, FUN DAY! WE HAD A LOT OF FUN DRIVING OVER DUNES, LISTENING TO AUTHENTIC FABULOUS MUSIC, WATCHING AMAZING BELLY DANCING, SEEING HENNA PAINTING, TAKING PHOTOS IN TRADITIONAL CLOTHING, AND FOR A BIT OF R&R WE HAD TIME TO ENJOY HOOKAHS. THERE, I MET OUR OUTSTANDING MARSHAL MOHAMMED SALEEM MOHIUDIN WITH WHOM I MADE THIS INTERVIEW FOR RYL. HE IS TRULY THE KING OF THE DESERT.

YOU GREW UP IN THE DESERT OF THE UAE. WHAT IS LIVING LIKE THAT TO YOU?

Actually, I did not grow up in the desert, per se, however, since I was little, we used to go to the desert and spend a lot of time there. We had fun and enjoyed ourselves as kids. Most importantly, it made me feel secure, and it was a kind of a safe place to play.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A “DESERT MAN AND AN URBAN MAN”? WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF FIT IN MORE?

Almost every weekend we are going to the desert at night to try and escape the hustle and bustle of the cities. When in the open, you feel alive, relaxed, and the atmosphere is dreamy at night. Here, you have a chance to enjoy your daydreaming or sit down and dive into endless deep thinking about the world and yourself. I like that you can really enjoy the stars and the Moon on a clear night, and it is an amazing experience! More than the quiet atmosphere you find in the desert.

HOW DO THE TOURISTS LIKE THE SPEED AND UNUSUAL DRIVING IN THIS SPECIFIC DUNE TOUR?

People have a lot of various reactions when we are driving through the dunes (otherwise known as “dune bashing”). Some are screaming at the top of their lungs while driving, some are too scared to scream. All of them enjoy it, though, and as soon as we start, they don’t regret coming to the desert. However, some of the clients do not trust our driving skill and riding the dune-waves seems too challenging for them, but it changes quickly once we start. There are those who stay quiet the whole drive, though, not many of them do, only when we reach safer paths and when we are going to a camping location. All of them say that they appreciate the ride and the skills they learned.

HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOUR NAKED FEET TOUCH THE SAND WHEN YOU SEE THE SAND IN THE DISTANCE?

Honestly, I feel like I am at home. It is as if I belong in the desert. It is more than just a workplace for me now, it is my home, and it is where I feel I belong. The quietness and relaxing atmosphere are what makes it better and fills me with joy.

ARE YOU CONSIDERING MOVING TO THE DESERT TO LIVE LIKE A TRUE BEDOUIN?

I do not think that I would become a Bedouin, a nomad of the desert, because for me, right now, this lifestyle is great. I am in a good place and do not feel that going to the desert like that would be a good move. On the other hand, I am spending a lot of time in the desert, because of my work and how I like to spend my free time too, I am in the desert a lot. Who knows what the future holds and how my life will turn out be, but, for now, just being part of the desert makes me really happy.