Thursday, October 27, 2011

Disi Camel Races! (redux!)

As many of you have come to discover, the Disi camel races are generally of an ephemeral nature.   Rumors of their existence occur, sheikhs are known to negotiate over prize money and ultimately the races are held when least expected or not at all.  Those who are able to catch their rare occurrence discover a wonderful experience - dashing camels, raging four wheel drive vehicles, nervous owners, each one hoping that his camel will claim a coveted cash prize, put up by the benevolent sheikh, and, of course, a lot of dust!

As great as these races can be, Mohammad Attallah, the camel race track manager and I thought it might be worth a shot to put on our own set of races, with a firm date and to raise money for a prize by charging for tickets!  The result of our efforts are advertised here and may be enjoyed at the upcoming race on 12 November 2011 in Disi!  Hope to see you there!

And they are off!  14 Oct 11

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Exploring Pharaoh's Island

A few months ago, a friend who works for Sindbad, Aqaba's premier company for enjoying the Red Sea (cruises, water sports, ferries), asked me whether I'd be interested in promoting their work.  A conversation ensued and we came up with the idea of an overnight cruise to Pharaoh's Island, off the coast of Egypt across the gulf from Aqaba.  Named for Ramses II, who is purported to have built its original fort, Pharaoh's Island played a strategic role in protecting the Cairo-Damascus route during the Crusades.  It is now home to a renovated citadel, built by Saladin in the 12th century.  I had a chance to visit the island last week - it was an amazing experience - the citadel was fascinating to explore and the snorkelling off the reefs that surround the island was among the best I have experienced.

Northern Citadel, Pharaoh's Island
Aboard Aladdin

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Luxury is the Difference

A few weeks ago, I was asked by a friend who edits a luxury magazine to come up with the 'most opulent' possibilities for luxury camping in Wadi Rum.  Frankly speaking, I have been waiting for years for this request!  My mind instantly shot into high gear as I began to envision private camel races, rides in the King's helicopter and an on-call astronomy expert, who would act as a guide to the night sky.  I also did a poll of my best guides, Suleiman Sabbah, Salah Radi and Harb Salem, to see how they would create a truly luxurious experience of their desert homes.  Each came up with his own unique plan - incorporating elements such as candle light, night time jeep tours and gourmet desert cuisine.

As Harb and I drove out into the desert to visit his private camp, we discussed the concept of luxury in the desert.  As always, he provided valuable insight - pointing out that for most of his clients, the luxury of the desert was the difference in the experience between their home and his.  'When I make barbeque with my own hands, when I serve them tea that I have made over the fire... that is the luxury... because they are my guests and that is a unique experience of my world."

Harb's Desert Camp

View from the Front Entrance