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37th Gulf News Fun Drive: watch all the action from a memorable day of dune bashing

Around 3,000 offroading enthusiasts in 800 vehicles braved the chill to take on the mighty dunes

Gulf News Web Report
20:32 January 12, 2018
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This year, the 37th Gulf News Overnighter Fun Drive is taking place in Umm Al Quwain. Around 3,000 people in 800 four-wheel vehicles will be testing their desert driving skills as they take part in one of the longest running off-road events in the UAE. Follow our coverage here. 



The fun continues at the camp site with amazing shows and performances, including desert drumming!


Everyone at the Fun Drive is enjoying the delicious dinner buffet.


People are already lining up for the sumptous dinner buffet at the camp site.


One of the attractions at the Fun Drive is a Toyota obstacle course, which takes you through several different simulations of desert terrain. We are about to ride a land cruiser up an axle twister and a hill climb.


People have started coming into the camp for some evening activities. The crowd is starting to thicken at the camp site. They share some of their experiences with us.

It's time to camp! Participants head to base

Watch these off-roaders put on a show at the camp

Vehicles make their way to the final camp

Watch the action at the Gulf News Fun Drive

Top pictures from Gulf News Fun Drive 2018


Several vehicles now heading through final desert drive before they reach camp.


We are now driving through the wadi. The floor is quite rocky, making it a very bumpy and exciting ride. We’re sorrounded by mountains and tonnes of Arabian palm trees. The weather is great with clear skies, cool breezes and sunshine.

Photo: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News


Vehicles are now headed into the next phase of the fun drive as we head into the mountains of Ras Al Khaimah

Photo: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News


The drive to checkpoint five was a quick one, since the terrain was very flat. We replenished ourselves with some juice and inflated our tyres ready to get to the Wadi.


We have now passed the lacnor checkpoint and are entering a gravel desert. This area is more flat and has hardly any dunes. We are heading to the mountains and into the Wadi.

Photo: Yousra Zaki/Gulf News


We’ve stopped again at one of the steepest dunes in the desert.  We are getting ready to watch cars take on the challenge of such a steep dune. 
Spoiler: it wasn’t much of a challenge.


We’ve stopped deep in the desert perched up on a dune watching as cars come by and perform dune tricks. This area seems to be a popular spot for drivers to show off their desert driving skills.


We are now in an area with very soft sand, where multiple cars are getting stuck in the sand. Many marshals have stopped by to help people who are stuck by pulling them out or guiding them with specific instructions on how to get themselves free.

Multiple cars stuck in a pocket. Photo: Pankaj Sharma


We’ve made a quick pitt stop deep in the desert between checkpoint three and four. This is a perfect spot to capture cars coming down one of the very steep dunes.


The weather is perfect to hit the dunes. Shebaun Mohammed Sherief tells his story of how he signed on for the fun drive while holidaying in Georgia.


We’ve just passed our third check point. Three more checkpoints to go until we reach the campsite. The weather is fantastic and the dunes are high.


Check out this cool fort at the second check point of the Gulf News Fun Drive


A family from RAK talks about their fun drive experience. They have been taking part in this event for over 6 years now.


At the moment we are deep in the desert, dune bashing and camel watching. The weather is perfect and spirits are high as people zoom past our car cheering and dancing to their stereos.

While another car is stuck in the distance, the vista is breathtaking.

"It's fun!" Despite getting stuck in the sand, these participants are cheery and having a great time.


We have arrived at the first checkpoint, Orient Tours, who were handing out great goodie bags.

Photo: Bindu Rai/Gulf News


Fun Drive organisers have mapped out the routes in the desert perfectly. After every 200 metres you’ll see little signs pointing you in the right direction, so no one strays off the tracks or gets lost.

Look out for these little signs along the routes. Photo: Yousra Zaki/Gulf News

Marshals help out a participant that got stuck in the sand. Video: Bindu Rai/Gulf News


The journey through the desert continues. We are lucky to have a very clear day without any dust in the air. Visibility is great and skies are blue. Until now we haven’t seen any animals. It’s a peaceful day in the desert.

Video: Yousra Zaki/Gulf News

Near check point No 2. Photo: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News


Off they go: The first group of vehicles were flagged off from the starting point by Shaikh Marwan Bin Rashid Al Mualla, Chaiman of Emirates Motorplex and Rajeev Khanna, Commercial Director at 8.20am setting in motion the 2018 Gulf News Overnighter Fun Drive. 

Video: Yousra Zaki/Gulf News

Heading the first caravan was off road aficionado Shaikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, driving a specially designed armoured jeep followed by souped up Dodge Ram and Ford Super Duty.

“This is really exciting and every year the Fun Drive just gets bigger and better. We are happy to see so many people supporting the event every year, making it a resounding success,” said Rajeev Khanna, ahead of the flag off.

Video: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News


About 800 cars getting ready for the flag off 

Video: Yousra Zaki/Gulf News

Cars are headed for the flag off. Photo: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News


Don't forget to download the app! 

The Fun Drive has a special tracking app, to assist participants along the way.
The app, available on both the Apple and Android app stores, will track participants during their journey through the desert.

Using mobile data connectivity, the app helps marshals keep track of each driver so they know straight away if anyone hits trouble.


Real action is about to begin.  Tyres are being deflated and marshals are preparing their four wheel drives for the desert

Even the kids have been put on tyre deflating duty. Photo: Bindu Rai/Gulf News


After completing check-in formalities, and having a sumptuous breakfast the participants collected their goodies — including a case of water per car, one goody bag per car and lunch boxes for all passengers in the car. 


Fun Drive participants enjoy a delicious breakfast in the desert to the tune of Happy! Food includes croissants, sausages and scrambled eggs.

Breakfast is served. Video: Bindu Rai/Gulf News

Participants enjoying their breakfast. Photo: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News


Excitement is already building for the Fun Drive. 

Morning at the Emirates Motorplex. Photo: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Pringles man entertains the crowd. Video: Bindu Rai/Gulf News


With inputs from Yousra Zaki, Deputy Editor – Guides, Bindu Rai, Deputy Editor – Tabloid, Shafaat Shahbandari, Staff Reporter