The Desert Diva All At Sea (Al Gharabia Watersport Festival 2015)

I finally made it along to this well-established festival – and I wish I had made the effort to attend this before!  All of the festivals organised by the government of the Western Region are good, but this one is unique and very special.

The official times are 12 noon to 10pm but most people didn’t arrive til late afternoon – I got there at around 3.30pm, in time to see lots of beautiful sailing boats seemingly miles out to sea.  Within half an hour however, they were heading towards the creek with the winner – number 77 – leading the parade.

Mirfa public beach is very well appointed and is a popular spot for most of the year, although in the summer months high humidity reduces its appeal slightly.  Walkers can amble down a large paved flower-lined promenade which has signposts to such places as London, Beijing and New York.  There are new toilets and showers which are spotlessly clean and some small shelter areas which are great to have picnics in.  The site was busy when I visited it on the penultimate day of the Festival, which was Friday 2nd May 2015 but there is lots of room and I would expect it to be overcrowded only on such occasions as Eid.

The atmosphere was amazing and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, whether trying out stand-up-paddling, beachcombing, or just taking photos.

Don’t miss this festival in 2016!

Hints and tips

take swimwear and a towel – there are showers and changing facilities

even if you don’t want to go swimming, chances are you will want to cool off by paddling in the shallows, so wear shorts or trousers you can roll up

take your camera – so many sights to record!

arrive late afternoon

if you can cycle in hot and humid conditions, why not enter the 20km cycle competition – winner gets 7500aed!

Go at the weekends for the best atmosphere

Accommodation is at a premium – there is only one hotel in the area – so if you want to stay over be prepared to wild camp or travel to Jebel Dhanna or Madinat Zayed.

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website for the 2014 event here

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