Meet the German woman living in the Dubai desert away from city life

Ursula Musch swaps traffic and noise for solitude in the sands – and 27 camels

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Ursula Musch made a life-changing decision in 2017 to embrace the simple Bedouin lifestyle in the Dubai desert.

After living in the emirate for 17 years, Musch developed asthma and grew weary of the bustling city life. Her move to a desert farm has brought her a newfound sense of freedom and happiness.

Now, it is a local attraction, capturing the attention of both tourists and UAE residents.

“Twenty-three years ago in 2000, I rented a small house and I brought my car and my dog from Germany,” she tells The National.

Originally from Germany, Musch, also known as Uschi or Oosha to her Arab friends, first visited the UAE in 1988 on holiday. It was during this time she met and befriended an Emirati family. After her mother's death in 2000, she decided to make the Emirates her home.

She remains close to the family, referring to them as her "local" family. The father, Obaid Al Muherri, died four years ago and used to refer to her as Bin Khaseba's (the family name) daughter.

After swapping the city for the sands, Musch found peace in the solitude. Not long after her move, in the depths of the pandemic, more people began building farms around her. Initial hesitation soon made way for warm acceptance.

Despite living alone, Musch has formed bonds with nearby farmers, sharing common interests and creating a supportive community. She plans on living in the desert forever as she cherishes the land that is in her name and she has a golden visa. She also particularly loves camels and has developed a passion for breeding them at her farm.

Musch's farm is now home to 27 camels and, while she dreams of expanding to 50, the challenges of maintenance and costs prevent her from doing so. In addition to camels, she also cares for about 50 goats, Saluki dogs, ducks and chickens.

Her main struggle, however, is finding dedicated labour for her farm. Despite living alone, Musch has employed four workers to assist her with daily tasks.

“This is the biggest problem to get labour who have just the will to work with the heart and to stand up in the morning and do his job very well," she says.

Her business journey

Musch's journey to local fame began with some luck thanks to her involvement with the Dubai International Art Centre. When she lived in the city, she made friends there while painting.

Once, she invited them over to try salona, an Emirati dish made with vegetables and protein in a tomato-based broth. Since then they have invited themselves over again and again.

Hosting friends for traditional Emirati meals has led to her growing popularity among the German community and beyond.

Her farm, known as Kamel Uschi, has gained recognition through word of mouth, and Musch believes this form of promotion is more powerful than any website or social media platform.

"My German website is very simple," she says. "I have been working on the English version of the website for two years now and it is still not completely ready because I don't have time.

"I also have Facebook and Instagram accounts, but honestly it's all about word of mouth."

She says that people keep insisting to residents and tourists they should visit her when in the emirate. She says she gets all different types of visitors.

While Musch has expanded her offerings to include Bedouin nights and camel visits to hotels, her latest project involves creating a garden on her property to provide food for her goats and vegetables for herself.

Embracing the desert weather, Musch finds comfort in its variability and copes with the summer heat by staying indoors and utilising air conditioning.

“People think it is harsh, but it’s not true, in the city it's very bad," she says. "Here, you don't have humidity from the sea.

"Each month, the weather is different and sometimes the weather stays the same every day."

Musch copes with the summer heat in the desert by taking precautions. She suggests staying indoors from noon until 6pm where she is able to relax with the AC in her home.

“It is nice in the UAE," she adds. "In Germany, you have this humidity, you have a lot of flies and mosquitoes and no AC everywhere.”

Updated: November 27, 2023, 4:41 AM