It doesn’t take a genius to work out that a country with strong sand dune game + an awesome mode of transport + killer playlist equals the stuff road-trip dreams are made of. Of course, the best parts of any road trip are the detours along the way. Some are intentional and enjoyable, some are unintentional and may have you thinking of ways to leave your road-trip buddies stranded in the desert, and some are unintentional and lead to awesome stories upon your return. This is a story of the latter.
A drive to Abu Dhabi’s patch of the Empty Quarter – the largest sandy expanse in the world – is one of the most popular weekend road-trip trips to make in the UAE. For the most part, you’ll see some epic sights typical of the region: dune landscapes, date farms, herds of camels and small Bedouin villages with small houses, mosques and tiny grocery stores stocked with Mirinda – orange-flavoured nectar of the gods.
Aaaaaand you also may see this en route:
I know. Area 51 much?
As curiosity seems to only be fatal to cats, humans are free to stop by this site without too much risk. Upon entering the carpark of this… pyramid, you’re greeted by a giant campervan (the biggest in the world, because UAE), a giant globe on wheels, and a Mercedes pimped with a serious set of monster truck wheels.
Welcome to the Emirates National Auto Museum, a rather crude structure that definitely does nothing to giveaway the fact that there is an absolute treasure trove of automobiles – 200 in fact – worth a casual $20 mil. The collection belongs to His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nayan, making the ENAM less of a museum and more of a seriously expensive garage.
The assortment of cars are as random as the museum’s location. Even if you’re not a massive revhead, you’ll get a kick out of seeing the Rolls-Royce that once transported Queen Lizzy, concept cars that look like something Marty McFly would dig, and a set of seven Mercedes, each painted a different colour, which kinda explains why the Sheikh is affectionately known as the Rainbow Sheikh.
The piece de resistance? Probably the Dodge truck custom-built to a scale of eight times the size of a regular Dodge. Five metres high, with the pick-up part of the truck being less of a pick-up truck and more of an apartment. An apartment that still manages to travel short distances. In the words of Ron Burgundy:
And yeah, we’re still not too sure how this Lockhead Tristar plane ended up out the back, either.