A little while ago one of our friends, Ryley Heffernan, sold up and headed off with his wife to the United Arab Emirates. Ryley is a keen surfer and snowboarder who spent a lot of time hanging out with Jon from our Frankston shop. Ryley sent through this email to let us know how things are working out for him.
Hope you’re well and making the most of the winter swells. I am having a bit of withdrawal at the moment as my mind is telling me it’s snowboarding time but my body is telling me to stay inside and out of the sun….
As I told you we were going to go to Dubai again this weekend for another surf, but as fate would have it a cyclone developed of the coast of Oman. Where we live we only got some light showers and cloudy windy conditions. On the Omani coastline they were being belted by 5-6mtr swells and rainfalls they hadn’t seen for 15 years. I think after passing by Oman Cyclone Phet went on to wreak havoc in southern Pakistan. Because of the climate over here the towns really aren’t designed to handle more than 5-10 mm of rainfall a year, so when something like a cyclone comes through the place falls apart.
We copped the brunt of Cyclone Phet last Thursday/Friday and re-evaluated where we would surf or even surf at all. The local police had issued warnings to everyone not to even go onto the beach. Considering the size and ocean conditions on the Omani coast we decided to steer clear of there, that was the Indian Ocean coastline. We decided to do the drive North East to a place called Fujairah It’s another one of the 7 Emirates here and a small little beach town. There is a lot of big cliffs bordering the coast and one of the guys with us said he knew of a little point that would be protected from the wind. Fujairah is more in the Arabian Sea and not as exposed as the Omani coast and the swell wasn’t as big there. similar to Western Port when the back beaches are maxing out. We drive for about 1 hour trying to find a way to get down to the point we were seeking. We eventually found a old access track and managed to drive down one of the sketchiest roads i’ve ever been on. We were driving a Toyota Sequoia, it’s the Middle Eastern version of the Toyota Kluger except twice as big in size. I told the other guys I was more than happy to do the walk down, which would have been the equivalent to walking down the cliff to big left. But they would have no such thing and pressed forward looking for a spot as close as possible to the shore.
The view from the top.
After all this it was worth it. The tide was coming in and it was super clean glassy 3-4ft waves. I am only guessing but all of us in the water decided the temp was well above 30deg. Once again the custom hydro held it’s own and i managed to get some good long rides. One of the guys had a longboard, which I think would have ultimately been the better board to have considering the conditions. It was similar to Pt Leo on a really good day except with really warm water and no one out. We surfed for about 4 hours, before we decided it was time to ascend back up the trail of death. The guy who owned the car assured me we would make it without trouble however I still felt a bit nervous considering there didn’t appear to be another living soul for some distance. Anyway after slipping and sliding our way back up we made it to the top of the trail to be greeted by the local police. They pulled us over and checked our I.D cards. We thought we were in trouble for being on the beach and in the water as there had been a lot of publicity regarding the dangers of being on the beach in these conditions. although this concerned them, they made us unpack all our board bags and take all the gear out of the boot as they wanted to search our stuff to make sure we hadn’t been fishing or cray fishing. Turns out we were in a protected marine sanctuary and they have trouble with illegal fishing and cray fishing ect. They thought our boards were some kind of fishing boat…. go figure. They let us go without too much trouble and we hit the road home. All in all a good day, a long day but good.
I’ve attached some photos of some local spots we’ve visited so far. The last few photo’s are of spots we frequent in Dubai. There is one shot looking back up the beach towards world famous Burj Al Arab hotel where a standard room is about $5000 a night. Surf in Dubai rarely gets above 3-4ft, it used to get slightly bigger but since they built the palm and world islands of the coast lines they stop a lot of the swell from getting through. Most of the swell in the Persian Gulf is ground swell, with not alot of ocean swell getting that far into the Gulf. Water in the Arabian-Persian Gulf is crystal clear 99% of the time. With the construction of the Palm and World islands just offshore it means that there is less spots to surf so the spots that are good are more crowded. I’ve only had one surf in Dubai so far but everyone in the water seemed really mellow and more keen on getting their wave fix rather than hassling and getting frustrated.
I’ve also attached a basic map of the United Arab Emirates. We live in a Oasis city called Al Ain on the Omani border,1 hour inland from Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The spot we surfed over the weekend is near the city of Fujairah to the near the northern tip of the Emirates. The spots photographed in Dubai are just to the south of where Dubai sits on the map. To the extreme East on the map is where more of the main Omani surf spots are that border the Indian Ocean and where Cyclone Phet recently passed through.
Hope this feeds your curiosity for a while, I will fill you on on the next Arabian adventure. Some of the guys want to do a 3-4 night trip in September before the school year starts again.