Less school run, more cool fun

You don't need to drive too far down any given road in the UAE before coming across a large SUV. But how many are used for their true purpose of going off road?

Powered by automated translation

You don't need to drive too far down any given road in the UAE before coming across a large SUV. These mechanical beasts are certainly handy for getting a bird's-eye view of the traffic and keeping a keen watch on the sometimes alarming behaviour of other motorists, but how many of these SUVs are used for their true purpose of going off road?
Outside schools, shiny SUVs crowd around dropping off or picking up kids. They fill the mall carparks. They clog the narrow streets of Abu Dhabi where parking is already at a premium - but using the vehicle's brute strength and excellent ground clearance to park on a footpath in Muroor is not really proper off-roading.
In an era where off-roading has been made more accessible through technology that allows a vehicle to be ready for the sand with the flick of a few switches or the turn of a few dials, it is a shame that so many drivers will never use their perfectly desert-capable car to ascend and descend towering dunes, swirl it around sand bowls or even take it down the rocky path to Hatta pools. The most challenging part of preparing most SUVs for going off road is letting the tyres down.
So, once again with the annual off-roading special edition of Motoring, we're here to urge you to make that bold move off the motorway. Why not join a 4x4 club - there are plenty in the UAE and it doesn't matter if you've never driven off road because you will meet patient people to guide you through the dunes safely.
And that is what it's all about: enjoying the great off-road adventures that the UAE and Oman has to offer without any injuries, apart from wounded pride when you experience the embarrassment of getting stuck for the first time and require a knight with a shining tow rope to get you out of the rut. But getting stuck is part of the fun and it's a learning experience. Next time you get bogged down, you'll know how to make sure you don't end up digging a tunnel to China with your tyres.
What is not so fun, however, is when people use their off-road cars for evil rather than good. The first rule of nature is not to mess up your own nest, yet every time I head out to the dunes, I am dismayed to see the remnants of other people's camping trips.
Then there are those who drive their SUVs on public beaches, nearly wiping out people who are trying to enjoy a day out in the process. And, of course, there are SUVs that are driven almost exclusively in the overtaking lane, lights flashing at the kind of speeds top-heavy cars are not made to reach. These SUV drivers are doing it wrong.
With this issue of motoring, we hope you are encouraged to do it right, to take your SUV off road and safely explore parts of the UAE and Oman that you will never see if you only drive on the tarmac. Go on, be daring - if there's a low range switch or lever in your car, a dial for sand settings, a button to turn off the traction control or turn on the hill descent control, why not use them? There's a world of fun to be had out there and you'll never find it in the Spinneys car park.