Dubai: Camping in motorhomes is being welcomed back on Dubai’s Al Sufouh Beach with Dubai Municipality announcing on Wednesday that it will re-authorise online permits for caravans.
While social distancing norms, protective gears and limitations to their beach activities will now become the new normal due to COVID-19, some caravan campers are not ready to give up their craze for motorhome beach breaks.
Recreational Vehicle (RV) enthusiast and Abu Dhabi resident Ali Al Marzouqi, who has spent almost every weekend and holidays in his caravan on Al Sufouh Beach for the last couple of years, is eagerly waiting for the movement restrictions in the capital to be lifted to drive down to Dubai for the beach getaways.
Speaking to Gulf News, which had filmed him inside his caravan in January, Al Marzouqi reminisced the charm of the caravan camping life prior to the coronavirus days.
“I have a caravan and my brother has another one. We camp in our RVs to enjoy a very different style of life during weekends and holidays,” said Al Marzouqi.
Ditching the amenities in their posh villas for the comfort of their caravans on the beach refreshes their holidays.
The custom-made motorhomes, however, have no dearth of luxury inside.
These are, in fact, mini versions of their villas.
No dearth of luxury, though limited
As you climb the stairs of Al Marzouqi’s caravan, you enter the living room which looks like a studio flat fitted with sofa set, widescreen TV, play station console, coffee machine and all other home appliances you can’t do away with.
The walls are decorated with art works and photo frames –including many featuring photos of UAE leaders and landmarks.
Though with a limited space, the bed room can rival a staycation hotel room, of course with the scenic beach view through glass windows.
“It’s an entirely different life. If you have an RV, I swear you would want to live there, especially in winter months. Even if you are alone, you will love it. If you have company, you will be happier,” said Al Mazrouqi.
With the beautiful view of the beach in the background and the Burj Al Arab hotel on one side and Dubai Marina on the other side, the campers enjoy the beach life day and night.
Caravan camping offered a lot of fun with plenty of time for water sport and beach activities.
But with the social distancing norms in place, Al Marzouqi said they will miss some beach games like volleyball.
“Maybe, we might just go for kayaking.”
Enjoying music and dance in specially-lit makeshift courtyards around the caravans post sunset is also likely to see some changes in the coronavirus season.
Despite all those limitations, Al Marzouqi believes caravan campers will be back in no time and he was planning to send his RV in a recovery vehicle so that he can book a beautiful spot before the site becomes crowded again by the time the lockdown in Abu Dhabi gets over.
“The view from your caravan matters. You need to get a spot with a beautiful view of the sea. Then you forget everything. It is really amazing. You will love being close to the nature and forget all the stress in life.”
Caravan camping veterans like him were earlier worried about Dubai government closing the camping site on Al Sufouh Beach as the number of caravans had seen a large increase.
But, in January, they were delighted when Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, announced that Dubai Municipality will allow caravan camping without the previously charged Dh500 fee.
Campers just have to apply for an online permit to stay on the site for two weeks. They should also abide by all the guidelines stipulated by the civic body.
“We are so grateful to Shaikh Hamdan for his gesture. Dubai Municipality does a great job in monitoring the site and ensuring it is kept safe and clean. I am sure they will also see to it that everyone follows COVID-19 safety precautions also,” said Al Marzouqi.
Saudis waiting for COVID to go away
The caravan camping site on Al Sufouh Beach, the only beach allocated for the purpose, attracts not just Emiratis with RVs.
GCC citizens with large-sized motorhomes are regular campers on the site.
Saudi citizens Khalid Al Majid and Essa Sami are two of them who have enjoyed camping here with their families in their motorhomes in the winter season.
While Al Majid found the Dubai beach life in his caravan perfect for his little children to explore the nature before they grow up and start schooling, Sami and his seven-member family including his parents and siblings were in Dubai to spend a long vacation without staying in hotels.
“If you have a caravan you don’t have to spend thousands of dirhams by renting a room in Burj Al Arab to enjoy this view,” said Sami.
Barbecuing on the beach with popular Arabic songs blaring from the bus-like motorhome is something that he is going to miss during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I love everything about Dubai. I want to come back there in our caravan. But now with COVID, things have changed, borders have been closed. We will have to wait till the coronavirus goes away,” he told Gulf News over phone.
The love for travel and temporary nomadic life, the pleasures of a cost-effective beach life and the simplicity of living in small rooms in their motorhomes are the main things that draw caravan enthusiasts to Dubai. And Al Sufouh Beach is all set to welcome them back.