After we handed over Shujaa in Bandar Abbas / Iran for shipment to Sharjah in the UAE, we board the plane to Dubai: the “classic” ferry connection on this route is still suspended due to corona, so vehicles and passengers have to go their separate ways. Entry into Dubai International Airport is super-efficient: Dozens of PCR test stations have been set up so that travelers from high-risk countries (which still includes Iran) can do the mandatory second test on arrival without any waiting time. Immigration itself is also a benchmark in terms of speed and technology: you get a SIM card precoded to your passport data with some data volume to start off so that you can communicate directly … we haven’t even left the airport and the differences to Iran (which is just 40 km across the street of Hormuz) could not be bigger…. also with regard to the border entry procedure.
First, we look at our tracker to see where Shujaa is and we are very happy: the ship left the port at 5:00 p.m., shortly after our departure, and seems to be on the way to Sharjah. So, it should arrive early tomorrow morning and we can get our baby out of the harbor in the morning … at least that’s what we think! When we look at the tracker the first thing next morning, we see the big disappointment: the ship is still at the same point as it was yesterday evening – somewhere in the large bay of Bandar Abbas. Telephoning with the shipping company and agent begins. A few hours later it is clear that the RoRo ship cannot leave the Strait of Hormuz due to strong winds. As control freaks, we take a look at our directly downloaded wind app and cannot see any really strong winds up there. In addition, we are of course also experienced captains who can judge that 😉. However, the RoRo ships that operate on this route are not comparable to the huge, ocean-going ships on which Shujaa was shipped to South America or Africa. These are more like inland barges with a low side wall, where a wave can easily spill over.
The good thing about Dubai, however, is that there are enough hotels, taxis and other infrastructure to have a relaxing stay even without your own vehicle. And so we start our program and focus on things that we haven’t done during our last stays here or that we particularly want to do at the moment: Karin invites me to dinner twice (and the first bottle of wine after – almost – five-week abstinence in Iran tastes particularly good), we drive up to the tallest building in the world – the Burj Khalifa – and immerse ourselves again in the endless shopping and consumer world of Dubai. Just watching the people, especially the sheik wives in jewelry stores, is exciting. We also pay a visit to the world exhibition Expo and are unexpectedly emotionally moved, especially by the German pavilion.
After two days of delay, Shujaa finally arrives in Sharjah: a bit splashed with salt water (so there really seems to have been some wind 😉), but otherwise in good condition. Although we have already put our personal immigration behind us, the customs formalities for the vehicles take over half a day. We have never experienced such inefficient and sometimes incompetent customs processing on our world tour so far – despite the Carnet de Passage, which should actually simplify the process.
We spend a few more days at Al Sufouh Beach: the great, fine sandy and super clean public city beach of Dubai. The overnight stay of foreign overlander vehicles seems to be tolerated again after it was banned during Corona and a huge, not overlooked sign shows the caravan ban. But we are a motorhome, not a caravan.
We need new tires and had reserved some in advance at the Continental agency in Dubai at a reasonable price. When we have a car wash done at a truck center, a lucky coincidence seems to come up: The tire dealer affiliated to the truck wash happens to have four used, but almost new tires in our size in stock – at less than a third of the new price of the Continental dealer. Of course, I am skeptical at first, look at the production date (not even three years old and therefore newer than the preused tires from military stock that I have always bought in Germany with good experiences). There is also no visible damage and the seller assures me that they have been stored properly. So let’s go for it! What a bargain!
We noticed that this was not the very best deal in our life after driving less than 10 km. It is now 21:00 h in the evening, dark and we are driving back to our beach parking on the Sheik Zayed Highway (the busiest highway in Dubai) … there is a terrible bang and one tire explodes. We slowly roll out and see that it has completely shredded the tire. Fortunately, it’s in the back and with a three-axle vehicle, the vehicle is still on three intact tires. Still, the location sucks for a tire change on site. The cars rush past Shujaa just a few inches at 100 km/h. After I had just struggled to position the jack under the heavily sunk axle (it is unbelievable what a difference it makes whether a vehicle is on a flat tire or on a completely tattered tire and thus only stands on the rim), luck seems to be on our side. A pick-up stops and it turns out that he is a mobile tire fitter … so he has a compressor, an impact wrench and everything with him. This means that the tire change is quick and easy, despite the adverse situation. We get a refund of 75% of the tire price the next day, but confidence in the new tires has sunk significantly. That’s why we get three of the six reserved new tires from the Continental dealer so that we are prepared for further tire problems. But we will also go for the remaining three tires a week later – more on that in the next blog!
Such an adventure – and this in Dubai! Who would have expected that?