National Geographic

National Geographic – World’s Apart

The passenger door slams, the driver revs the engine and we leave the little airstrip in our wake. The tiny, single-propeller seaplane that brought us here is doing an about turn in preparation for the journey back across the Arabian Gulf. And it won’t be back anytime soon. I’m well and truly in the care of the Sharjah Police. “I think you’ll find your quarters pretty comfortable,” says the captain, Hamid, a gruff bear of a man as he ushers me into a low-rise building. I’ve done nothing untoward. Rather, I’m here to investigate one of Sharjah’s hitherto unsung natural attractions.        

National Geographic – An Arabian Adventure

Astonished shrieks wake me from my post-lunch reverie. Posited on giant cushions, my belly full with grilled fish and my system rocked towards slumber by the gentle motion of the dhow (boat), the urgent excitement seems surreal and slightly hysterical. Reluctantly, I rouse myself and make my way to the side of the boat, arrowing along the coastline towards the Straits of Hormuz, to investigate the source of the fuss. Judging by the ecstatic looks of my companions and the frantic motioning towards starboard by boatmen Omar and Abdullah, it seems we’ve company. The school of dolphins appears to be racing us. Throwing their streamlined silver- blue bodies flamboyantly out of the turquoise ocean alongside us, they just have the edge on our bulkier motorised dhow. “Very beautiful,” says Omar. “They don’t come out every time, sometimes they are being lazy. But there’s usually a good chance something like this will happen. It’s what many of our customers come here for.” Fantastical sights like these are not uncommon in this neck of the Arabian Peninsula. Located in the far north…