All Change!

There have been huge changes in the world of oil and gas lately – the plummeting value of a barrel of oil, down from around 70 USD/barrel in early 2015 to a low of just over 30USD in January 2016 has seen the major companies cut right back.  My husband’s employer, ADMA-OPCO, part of the  Abu Dhabi National Oil Company is to shed 5000 of its 55000 staff this year and sadly he was part of the first group of employees to have their employment terminated from 31st May (his post was completely deleted/axed).

He has worked for them for nine years and we have been living in the UAE together for 7 of them.

During that time, like many expats, he has paid off our UK mortgage and we have saved a little, but maybe not as much as we should have (Does anyone ever save TOO much?).   We have met lots of interesting people and made good friends all over the world.  In future we have somewhere to lay our heads in Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Sri Lanka and Sweden, to name just a few countries!  We have gone on amazing holidays to Sri Lanka and Turkey, and explored the UAE and Oman in-depth on our epic overland adventures!

So what next?

I have long been planning a desert touring company but this has not come to fruition for various reasons. In a way I am glad as if all had gone to plan we would currently be up to our ears in debt!  Instead, last month saw me register a free zone company which will allow me to do “Event Management.”

The company is Empty Quarter Enterprises FZE but  I will trade under the name “Desert Diva Events and Adventures“.


I have put together offroad and outdoor events for a few years now, including the original Pink Drives for UAEOffroaders, Jeep FUNatic for Eastern Motors and most recently, the 73-car Dark Skies Challenge in February of this year.  Not to mention hundreds, yes really hundreds, of offroad trips for club members;  I have dragged them over dunes, up mountains and camped on beaches – in groups of 3-30 people, so I have a wealth of experience in planning and running such events.

So if you are in need of someone to create an event for your Company or even a private one for your family and friends, please get in touch

I can organise all manner of events which include

  • Teambuilding (outdoor activities)
  • Camping
  • Scavenger hunts
  • Product launches
  • Promotions

I hope to get some offroad driving in too

  • TV/film location scouting and support
  • Offroad event support
  • and companies can still hire me to be an Abu Dhabi (anywhere in the Emirate) tour guide!

I am already planning events for next winter which Desert Diva Events and Adventures will host  – such as the Dark Skies Challenge 2017, Feast at The Fort and a few more… details in due course!

In the short term my husband Neil will help me get the company up and running; at the moment there are not many jobs out there for people with his specialized skill-set (emergency management/business continuity). But if you know of any company looking for someone like him on a short-term contract basis, please get in touch!

Looking forward to seeing lots of you in the desert after the summer!  The Diva would be most grateful if you can keep her in the Desert for a lot longer!







  1. Dave Donald says:

    Not good news on hubby’s job but possibly every cloud has a silver lining. Good luck with your business venture. I will keep my ears open for opportunities.


    • Marina Bruce says:

      Thanks Dave! You never know what will happen, but for now, the Diva wants to stay and play, oops I mean work, in the Desert! Hope to catch up with you again sometime, all the best, Marina

  2. I just stumble upon your post on FB some minutes ago. I stayed glued and read your article from beginning till the end. I am based in Abu Dhabi too (moved from Dubai) and in the travel industry too.
    Wish you the best in your new venture and if there’s anyway I can be a resource for you kindly let me know!

  3. I Das says:

    I am also working for one for the ADNOC companies and unfortunately the good times are gone. I still have my job but it may be gone tomorrow, lots of uncertainty, and no other jobs around. Good luck with the new venture…

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Thank you for your good wishes and I hope your job will remain. Best wishes, Marina

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Thank you! Hope your job does not disappear and that good times come round again sooner rather than later!

  4. Hi, I have often though that a BIG gap in the desert tourism offering here is mid-priced authentic camping WITHOUT vehicles. There are LOTS of families here who don’t want the fake desert experiences offered by tour companies or who want to go off road driving or invest on loads of camping gear.
    What I think would work would be a simple bedouin camp, a fire, no noise, a good knowledgeable desert guide, a good price and no need to break the bank. I think the Hameen road probably offers the best desert, but as you know there are lots of choose from! Anyway, here’s hoping you can fill the gap in the market, 🙂

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Thanks Jonathon for your good wishes. I agree totally that the field of desert tourism offerings is somewhat narrower than it could be – I hope that I will have the chance to widen it and show more people the beautiful desert I so love!

      All the best, Marina

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