The range-topping Polaris RZR Fox Limited Edition, which costs Dh105,000 and is equipped with extras including race-derived Fox suspension and a multimedia display. Courtesy Polaris
The range-topping Polaris RZR Fox Limited Edition, which costs Dh105,000 and is equipped with extras including race-derived Fox suspension and a multimedia display. Courtesy Polaris

Bugging out in the UAE desert over the new Polaris off-roaders



'You simply cannot have more fun on wheels." The comment comes from a fellow motoring journalist, and it's a big call, but he's right on the money. This is a pure, unadulterated, laugh-out-loud riot.

We’re at a desert camp about 20 minutes out of Dubai, and we’ve just come back from tearing across the surrounding dunes in the latest range of Polaris ORVs (off-road vehicles). You couldn’t peel the grins off our faces with a can opener and we’re chuckling like schoolboys who’ve just planted a stink bomb in the principal’s office.

The event is dubbed Camp RZR (an abbreviation of sorts for “Razor”), and although it refers to Polaris’s RZR model range, the Ranger, Sportsman and Ace line-ups are also showcased at the venue. Each model range was conceived with a specific ­audience in mind, with the sporty RZR aimed at recreational riders, while the Ranger is purely utilitarian, the Sportsman is an all-rounder and the Ace is an entry-level quad suited even to youngsters in the 10- to 16-year-old age bracket.

The American manufacturer (it’s based in Minneapolis) is a sizeable organisation that generates an annual turnover of US$4.5 billion (Dh16.53bn), and although 80 per cent of that comes from its domestic market, the Middle East – especially the UAE – punches well above its weight in terms of Polaris ORVs sold per head of population.

It’s the reason why the company has gone to the trouble of shipping across a whole fleet of vehicles and support personnel for this three-day event, aimed at existing and potential new customers. They’ve also put on a media-ride programme, which is the reason we’re now all standing here with foolish grins on our faces.

A bit of background about Polaris: the company was founded as a snowmobile manufacturer in 1954 by Edgar and Allen Hetteen and David Johnson. That remained the company’s core business until 1985, when it launched the Trailboss, regarded as the first American-made all-terrain vehicle. This paved the way for a whole new division (ORVs), which is now Polaris’s main revenue earner, accounting for 80 per cent of its turnover.

The company also owns the Indian and Victory motorcycle brands, and its push into the realm of on-road vehicles has ­received further impetus with the launch of the Slingshot, a racy looking three-wheeler (with two wheels up front and one at the back, à la Morgan Three-Wheelers). It’s propelled by a 2.4L, four-cylinder engine, with power relayed to the single rear wheel via a five-speed manual gearbox and drive belt.

However, neither the Slingshot nor the Indian and ­Victory ­motorcycle line-ups are what we’ve come to sample today. We’re here to kick up some sand with the off-road range, which is parked round us in orderly rows, divided up into the separate model ranges.

Polaris ORVs are not cheap – pricing starts at about Dh30,000 and goes all the way up to Dh105,000 for the RZR Fox Limited Edition – but there’s still healthy demand for the brand’s products in the Middle East, and it’s not at all surprising when you take into consideration the terrain we’re surrounded by in the UAE. We live in an off-roading paradise, and if I had a lazy hundred thousand dirhams burning a hole in my pocket, I’d be making a beeline for the Polaris ­dealership.

Bear in mind, though, that what you’re buying is essentially an expensive toy. There’s no way you can use any of Polaris’s offerings to make the office trek down Sheikh Zayed Road, as they don’t have the requisite certification for road use in the UAE (unlike European countries, such as the United Kingdom and France, where you can actually road-­register ­certain Polaris models).

Thoughts of Sheikh Zayed Road are the furthest thing from my mind as we begin our media-ride event, however. I’ve hopped into a workmanlike Ranger to get familiar with the whole ORV genre (I’d never ridden a quad bike or vehicle of this ilk before today), and I’m pleased to find a conventional steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedal. The automatic transmission lever is also similar in function to that in a normal road car, with P, R, N, H (High) and L (Low) slots.

Unlike a quad bike, on which you sit astride, in the Polaris Ace, Ranger and RZR models you sit in a bucket seat, with a lap-sash seat belt and roll cage adding to the sense of security. This boosts these vehicles’ appeal to a mainstream audience, as many people shy away from quad bikes, having heard horror stories of friends or associates who have suffered broken legs or spinal damage after tipping over one of those contraptions.

As for the Ranger I’ve commandeered, it’s got side-by-side seating and a load tray at the back that can accommodate 800 kilograms of cargo. It can also tow an additional 800kg, making it an ideal workhorse in rugged terrain. In the United States, many outdoorsmen use these for hunting, as they’re powerful enough to haul a full-grown deer.

Propulsion for the vehicle comes from a four-stroke 760cc engine that puts out 50bhp, which might not sound earth-shattering, but it’s more than adequate to provide the Ranger with a lively turn of pace, as it weighs just 562kg (without fluids), which is about a third of the mass of a typical mid-size ­saloon.

It’s extremely easy to operate, too. Once you’ve slotted it into gear, you simply stand on the gas and steer, with the Polaris effortlessly bounding over everything that stands in its path. The suspension has loads of travel, so most lumps and bumps in the surface of the sand we’re traversing are comfortably soaked up by it, rather than being transmitted to our vertebrae.

Our first exercise to familiarise ourselves with the vehicles is an off-road drag strip of sorts. The acceleration is an eye-opener, especially given that the ­Ranger I’m piloting is a utilitarian ­device rather than the fun machine that the RZR was obviously conceived to be.

We then move on to a slalom exercise, weaving in and out of a series of flags to gain a feel for the steering response and ­manoeuvrability of each of the Polaris models. This grows wearisome after three or four passes, but then it’s time to head back to base before embarking on the final, and most significant, part of the itinerary – a freestyle desert ride aboard the fleet of RZR 1000s.

The RZR is the flagship of the Polaris ORV range, with the two-seater retailing for Dh92,000, the four-seater for Dh99,000 and the Fox Limited Edition (which gets special, race-derived Fox suspension, a multimedia display and various other bits and bobs) for Dh105,000.

Each of these models is powered by a 999cc, two-cylinder, four-stroke engine that pumps out 110 horses, which is a pretty healthy output in something that weighs just 625kg (excluding fluids). As with the other Polaris models, it comes with a roll cage, bucket seats and seat belts but, unlike the others, it also has quarter doors, where its stablemates make do with a side net that clips into place with a clasp.

It’s built to conquer the rough stuff, with around 300 millimetres of ground clearance and wheels positioned at each of the four corners, meaning there’s no overhangs to get snagged against obstacles. This enables you to attack dune ascents and descents with real vigour, safe in the knowledge the nose won’t bash against the ground. The latter scenario would be the likely outcome in a road-going four-wheel-drive, in which the grille and bumper protrude well beyond the front axle line.

It proves a revelation how effortlessly and astonishingly rapidly the RZR can scorch from one dune to the next, and on the flatter sections it’s capable of clocking 125kph. It makes off-roading almost too easy, but you still need to pick your lines and aim to ascend and descend dunes – particularly steep ones – straight up and down, rather than ­diagonally.

You only need to go on YouTube to see how many compilations there are of vehicles of this type rolling or going end over end in rough terrain to ­realise that care is still needed. As mentioned before, though, you have a seat belt and roll cage protecting you and the Polarises are ruggedly constructed, so there’s a great sense of peace of mind.

Traction is not an issue as the chunky 27-inch-tall Dirt Commander tyres dig into the sand with the tenacity of a sand lizard. The RZR isn’t particularly taxing to drive either, with power steering taking the grunt work out of heaving it around on the sand.

It comes with more instrumentation than you might expect, including a speedometer, odometer, trip meter, tachometer, coolant temperature gauge, voltmeter, hourmeter, service indicator, clock, gear indicator, fuel gauge, high-temp light and seat belt reminder light. You can drive in the dark too, as the RZR is equipped with halogen headlights and LED tail/brake lights.

As the sun begins to set over the dunes, the rich interplay of light and shade renders the reddish orange sand in its most spectacular hues. There’s also a calming stillness in this environment, interrupted only by the buzz of twin-cylinder engines being given the beans. It’s an intriguing juxtaposition, adding to the memorability of the occasion.

I have to admit I’m not an off-road junkie, but two great experiences in the dunes on successive weekends (the previous Saturday, I was out in a modified Jeep Wrangler) have stirred a longing to get back out in the sand as soon as possible. And I very much doubt there’s a more effective or enjoyable way to carve up the desert than in an RZR. If there is, I’ve yet to experience it.

Now then, can anyone out there lend me a hundred grand?

motoring@thenational.ae

Follow us @LifeNationalUAE

Follow us on Facebook for discussions, entertainment, reviews, wellness and news.

Race card

5pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 1,600m
5.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m
6pm: Arabian Triple Crown Round-1 Listed (PA) Dh230,000 (T) 1,600m
6.30pm: Wathba Stallions Cup Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 1,400m
7pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,200m
7.30pm: Handicap (TB) Dh100,000 (T) 2,400m

Kill Bill Volume 1

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Uma Thurman, David Carradine and Michael Madsen
Rating: 4.5/5

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

The Details

Article 15
Produced by: Carnival Cinemas, Zee Studios
Directed by: Anubhav Sinha
Starring: Ayushmann Khurrana, Kumud Mishra, Manoj Pahwa, Sayani Gupta, Zeeshan Ayyub
Our rating: 4/5 

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

Bert van Marwijk factfile

Born: May 19 1952
Place of birth: Deventer, Netherlands
Playing position: Midfielder

Teams managed:
1998-2000 Fortuna Sittard
2000-2004 Feyenoord
2004-2006 Borussia Dortmund
2007-2008 Feyenoord
2008-2012 Netherlands
2013-2014 Hamburg
2015-2017 Saudi Arabia
2018 Australia

Major honours (manager):
2001/02 Uefa Cup, Feyenoord
2007/08 KNVB Cup, Feyenoord
World Cup runner-up, Netherlands

Tips for newlyweds to better manage finances

All couples are unique and have to create a financial blueprint that is most suitable for their relationship, says Vijay Valecha, chief investment officer at Century Financial. He offers his top five tips for couples to better manage their finances.

Discuss your assets and debts: When married, it’s important to understand each other’s personal financial situation. It’s necessary to know upfront what each party brings to the table, as debts and assets affect spending habits and joint loan qualifications. Discussing all aspects of their finances as a couple prevents anyone from being blindsided later.

Decide on the financial/saving goals: Spouses should independently list their top goals and share their lists with one another to shape a joint plan. Writing down clear goals will help them determine how much to save each month, how much to put aside for short-term goals, and how they will reach their long-term financial goals.

Set a budget: A budget can keep the couple be mindful of their income and expenses. With a monthly budget, couples will know exactly how much they can spend in a category each month, how much they have to work with and what spending areas need to be evaluated.

Decide who manages what: When it comes to handling finances, it’s a good idea to decide who manages what. For example, one person might take on the day-to-day bills, while the other tackles long-term investments and retirement plans.

Money date nights: Talking about money should be a healthy, ongoing conversation and couples should not wait for something to go wrong. They should set time aside every month to talk about future financial decisions and see the progress they’ve made together towards accomplishing their goals.

Monster

Directed by: Anthony Mandler

Starring: Kelvin Harrison Jr., John David Washington 

3/5

 

The bio

Favourite book: Peter Rabbit. I used to read it to my three children and still read it myself. If I am feeling down it brings back good memories.

Best thing about your job: Getting to help people. My mum always told me never to pass up an opportunity to do a good deed.

Best part of life in the UAE: The weather. The constant sunshine is amazing and there is always something to do, you have so many options when it comes to how to spend your day.

Favourite holiday destination: Malaysia. I went there for my honeymoon and ended up volunteering to teach local children for a few hours each day. It is such a special place and I plan to retire there one day.

BULKWHIZ PROFILE

Date started: February 2017

Founders: Amira Rashad (CEO), Yusuf Saber (CTO), Mahmoud Sayedahmed (adviser), Reda Bouraoui (adviser)

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: E-commerce 

Size: 50 employees

Funding: approximately $6m

Investors: Beco Capital, Enabling Future and Wain in the UAE; China's MSA Capital; 500 Startups; Faith Capital and Savour Ventures in Kuwait

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

SPECS

Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now

Scorecard

Scotland 220

K Coetzer 95, J Siddique 3-49, R Mustafa 3-35

UAE 224-3 in 43,5 overs

C Suri 67, B Hameed 63 not out

Dengue fever symptoms

High fever (40°C/104°F)
Severe headache
Pain behind the eyes
Muscle and joint pains
Nausea
Vomiting
Swollen glands
Rash

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE. 

Read part four: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Marathon results

Men:

1. Titus Ekiru(KEN) 2:06:13 

2. Alphonce Simbu(TAN) 2:07:50 

3. Reuben Kipyego(KEN) 2:08:25 

4. Abel Kirui(KEN) 2:08:46 

5. Felix Kemutai(KEN) 2:10:48  

Women:

1. Judith Korir(KEN) 2:22:30 

2. Eunice Chumba(BHR) 2:26:01 

3. Immaculate Chemutai(UGA) 2:28:30 

4. Abebech Bekele(ETH) 2:29:43 

5. Aleksandra Morozova(RUS) 2:33:01  

Visit Abu Dhabi culinary team's top Emirati restaurants in Abu Dhabi

Yadoo’s House Restaurant+& Cafe

For the karak and Yoodo's house platter with includes eggs, balaleet, khamir and chebab bread.

Golden Dallah

For the cappuccino, luqaimat and aseeda.

Al Mrzab Restaurant

For the shrimp murabian and Kuwaiti options including Kuwaiti machboos with kebab and spicy sauce.

Al Derwaza

For the fish hubul, regag bread, biryani and special seafood soup. 

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

COMPANY PROFILE


Company name: Clara
Started: 2019
Founders: Patrick Rogers, Lee McMahon, Arthur Guest, Ahmed Arif
Based: Dubai
Industry: LegalTech
Funding size: $4 million of seed financing
Investors: Wamda Capital, Shorooq Partners, Techstars, 500 Global, OTF, Venture Souq, Knuru Capital, Plug and Play and The LegalTech Fund

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 171 points
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes-GP) 151
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes-GP) 136
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull Racing) 107
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 83
6. Sergio Perez (Force India) 50
7. Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) 45
8. Esteban Ocon (Force India) 39
9. Carlos Sainz (Torro Rosso) 29
10. Felipe Massa (Williams) 22

If you go

The flights

Fly direct to London from the UAE with Etihad, Emirates, British Airways or Virgin Atlantic from about Dh2,500 return including taxes. 

The hotel

Rooms at the convenient and art-conscious Andaz London Liverpool Street cost from £167 (Dh800) per night including taxes.

The tour

The Shoreditch Street Art Tour costs from £15 (Dh73) per person for approximately three hours. 

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

if you go

The flights Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad, and Royal Jordanian all offer direct, three-and-a-half-hour flights from the UAE to the Jordanian capital Amman. Alternatively, from June Fly Dubai will offer a new direct service from Dubai to Aqaba in the south of the country. See the airlines’ respective sites for varying prices or search on reliable price-comparison site Skyscanner.

The trip 

Jamie Lafferty was a guest of the Jordan Tourist Board. For more information on adventure tourism in Jordan see Visit Jordan. A number of new and established tour companies offer the chance to go caving, rock-climbing, canyoning, and mountaineering in Jordan. Prices vary depending on how many activities you want to do and how many days you plan to stay in the country. Among the leaders are Terhaal, who offer a two-day canyoning trip from Dh845 per person. If you really want to push your limits, contact the Stronger Team. For a more trek-focused trip, KE Adventure offers an eight-day trip from Dh5,300 per person.

Company profile

Name: WallyGPT
Started: 2014
Founders: Saeid and Sami Hejazi
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Investment raised: $7.1 million
Number of staff: 20
Investment stage: Pre-seed round

Ads on social media can 'normalise' drugs

A UK report on youth social media habits commissioned by advocacy group Volteface found a quarter of young people were exposed to illegal drug dealers on social media.

The poll of 2,006 people aged 16-24 assessed their exposure to drug dealers online in a nationally representative survey.

Of those admitting to seeing drugs for sale online, 56 per cent saw them advertised on Snapchat, 55 per cent on Instagram and 47 per cent on Facebook.

Cannabis was the drug most pushed by online dealers, with 63 per cent of survey respondents claiming to have seen adverts on social media for the drug, followed by cocaine (26 per cent) and MDMA/ecstasy, with 24 per cent of people.

Sweet Tooth

Creator: Jim Mickle
Starring: Christian Convery, Nonso Anozie, Adeel Akhtar, Stefania LaVie Owen
Rating: 2.5/5

Our legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants

Seemar’s top six for the Dubai World Cup Carnival:

1. Reynaldothewizard
2. North America
3. Raven’s Corner
4. Hawkesbury
5. New Maharajah
6. Secret Ambition

Most wanted allegations
  • Benjamin Macann, 32: involvement in cocaine smuggling gang.
  • Jack Mayle, 30: sold drugs from a phone line called the Flavour Quest.
  • Callum Halpin, 27: over the 2018 murder of a rival drug dealer. 
  • Asim Naveed, 29: accused of being the leader of a gang that imported cocaine.
  • Calvin Parris, 32: accused of buying cocaine from Naveed and selling it on.
  • John James Jones, 31: allegedly stabbed two people causing serious injuries.
  • Callum Michael Allan, 23: alleged drug dealing and assaulting an emergency worker.
  • Dean Garforth, 29: part of a crime gang that sold drugs and guns.
  • Joshua Dillon Hendry, 30: accused of trafficking heroin and crack cocain. 
  • Mark Francis Roberts, 28: grievous bodily harm after a bungled attempt to steal a+£60,000 watch.
  • James+‘Jamie’ Stevenson, 56: for arson and over the seizure of a tonne of cocaine.
  • Nana Oppong, 41: shot a man eight times in a suspected gangland reprisal attack. 
COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Sideup
Started: 2019
Founder: Waleed Rashed
Based: Cairo, Egypt
Industry: technology, e-commerce
Funds raised so far: $1.2 million
Investors: Launch Africa VC, 500 Global, Riyadh Angels, Alex Angels, Al Tuwaijri Fund and Saudi angel investor Faisal Al Abdulsalam

TOUCH RULES

Touch is derived from rugby league. Teams consist of up to 14 players with a maximum of six on the field at any time.

Teams can make as many substitutions as they want during the 40 minute matches.

Similar to rugby league, the attacking team has six attempts - or touches - before possession changes over.

A touch is any contact between the player with the ball and a defender, and must be with minimum force.

After a touch the player performs a “roll-ball” - similar to the play-the-ball in league - stepping over or rolling the ball between the feet.

At the roll-ball, the defenders have to retreat a minimum of five metres.

A touchdown is scored when an attacking player places the ball on or over the score-line.

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets

Weekender

Get the highlights of our exciting Weekend edition every Saturday

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      Weekender