When I drive in the desert, utter calm descends over me.
Lowering the tyres to 12psi, the Pajero seamlessly floats over the surface of the sand, every dune unknown, accelerating up and over, easing the pressure as the car crests over and down the ridge.
Beautiful desert colours encompass the surroundings with sand hues ranging from pale yellow to deep ochre, offset by the cloudless blue skies.
Sometimes a splash of vibrant colour is seen, desert melons and scrubby bushes pushing through the sand, somehow living in this wilderness.
The white gleam of a desert oryx, a flash of a gazelle bobbing through the dunes, camels spotted on distant dunes.
Small abandoned structures built in strange remote places, no water, no electricity, no roads, I’ll never know why. Pipelines, camel herders, an occasional rig truck, a behemoth barreling through the dunes on well-travelled sand tracks heading to some distant camp. A mysterious place, the desert.
There is no sound out here, bar wind.
At the south-east corner of the Emirates, the fabled Empty Quarter spills across the boundaries, mountains of dunes cascade downwards, shaped by the wind, shifting in time. The border with Saudi Arabia runs through these dunes, an ugly structure slashing through this wilderness, the days of camel trains and trade are long gone.
Out in the dunes, I think of Lawrence and Thesiger, the great desert explorers with an empathy for these wild regions.
How very different it would be for them now. Progress invaded the desert world, oil and gas hidden beneath shifting sands, technology marches relentlessly on, undaunted by this wilderness.