Dubai - As the red sun sets magically over the sand dunes of the Arabian Desert I am immediately transported to a different age.
A time before skyscrapers, luxury cars and malls enveloped this ancient part of the world. I can envisage young Bedouins navigating their way through this treacherous terrain with only the help of their sturdy camels as companions and shadows as their GPS.
Fortunately, though, we have trusty Naseem and his magnificent SUV that will take us on our night of adventure.
Mini-bus taxi drivers in Soweto and Mitchells Plain back home would do well to get some driving lessons from Naseem for with a bit of corporate backing he would be a worthy competitor to SA’s Dakar Rally champion Giniel de Villiers.
With the tyres deflated just enough for maximum traction in the loose sand, Naseem powers over the dunes that sends us on a roll-coaster ride that awakens everything we had for breakfast.
I am accompanied on this desert safari by two young Russian girls, who shriek with nervous laughter after every dune, only fuelling Naseem’s desire to put his foot further down on the throttle.
Fortunately after 20 minutes of pure exhilaration, Naseem brings us to a halt atop of the highest peak for us to snap our Instagram selfies.
The girls head off for their Vogue-like cover shoot, with their blonde hair and loose linen clothing fluttering in the desert wind, while Naseem transforms into my own personal photographer. A man of many talents indeed.
It is a moment to savour. Only sand beyond the eye can see. Pure bliss.
But Naseem is hungry. “Let’s go eat!” he bellows.
And off we head towards an unknown location in the centre of the desert.
He never told me I needed to ride a camel to get my dinner. Now this may seem the most normal thing to many, but sitting on hump back high up is not my idea of fun.
“C’mon, get on”, says Naseem.
As I begin to mount this magnificent beast, a large groan emerges.
“Don’t worry, it’s okay.”
The camel raises its legs and I almost flung off, but I am committed to this adventure now and eventually enjoy a leisurely stroll around the campsite.
The evening is now perfectly set up for a night of revelry and BBQ dining under the desert stars.
Belly-dancers keep us entertained to the tunes of Arabic folk music, and the vision of them keeping the Persian Sheikhs of yesteryear amused is fathomable. The flame-throwers are equally entertaining as they have the now roaring crowd in disbelief with their skill and talents.
The feast is equally delectable. The Shish kebab, Arabic breads with hummus and Fattoush salads hit the spot to round a fabulous evening.
The time had come to leave this little bit of paradise and return to the furious pace of the city, but I will always have a little piece of sand in my pocket to remember my night in the desert.