One Charge Challenge: Dubai, UAE
We are back with another One Charge Challenge. This time we will be exploring the hidden gems in the deserts surrounding Dubai, to see just how much we can get done on one charge. With us on the journey we have Mohammed Khalifa, our Dubai local and drifting expert.
The Journey Begins
Every (good) morning should begin with a cup of coffee. Therefore, it is only right that we begin this road trip at Under the Shade Café in Hatta. Nestled in the rugged Hajar Mountains, Hatta is an enclave within the emirate of Dubai that provides a striking contrast to the glitzy urban landscape.
Historically, Hatta has been a vital hub for agriculture and trade, known for its traditional falaj irrigation systems and ancient forts. The town has preserved its cultural heritage, offering a glimpse into traditional Emirati life with its mud-brick structures and historical landmarks. Lucky for us, just across the street from our café, lies the famous Hatta watch tour, erected in the 1800s.
In recent years, Hatta has also emerged as an eco-tourism destination, drawing nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers with its picturesque landscapes, hiking trails, and the serene Hatta Dam. The Dubai government has invested in sustainable development projects in Hatta, promoting the region as an eco-friendly getaway and showcasing the diversity of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Paragliding, horseback riding, and mountain biking are only a few of the many activities available in Hatta.
Into the Desert
After our morning coffee we set off into the desert. But we are not greeted with picturesque sand dunes or wandering camels. At least not yet. Instead, outside the window we see towering mountains and rugged rockfaces. One could almost compare it to the Austrian alps, except for the lack of snow* and the thermometer souring well above 30 degrees Celsius. Although you will find yourself looking through the sunroof more often than not when making your way through the Hajar mountains.
Once out of the mountainous region, the landscape flattens out and starts to look more like your “typical” desert. While stopping at a local shop to pick up some much-needed water, a pack of camels casually stroll by on the other side of the road. Camels have always had an important cultural and historical role in the UAE. These majestic animals have been integral to the Bedouin way of life, as they are reliable companions in the harsh desert environment. Thanks to their ability to endure long journeys across arid landscapes camels have been invaluable for trade, communication, and exploration.
With our water bottles refilled and obligatory photos of camels taken, we make our way to the next stop on the journey.
*There have been instances where the mountain tops receive a dusting of snow during the winter months, creating an unexpected winter scene in the desert landscape of the region.
After about two hours on the road, a tower starts to take shape in the dusty horizon. What can easily be misinterpreted as a desert mirage, is in fact the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (MBR) Solar Park.
In a region historically synonymous with oil and gas, the solar park signifies a paradigm shift, showcasing the Emirate's commitment to diversifying its energy mix and breaking free from its historical reliance on fossil fuels. Launched in 2012, the MBR Solar Park is aiming to achieve a remarkable capacity of 5,000 megawatts by 2030. On average, one megawatt can power approximately 1,000 to 2,000 homes. Therefore, the MBR Solar Park could potentially power anywhere from 5 to 10 million homes by 2030.
We were thrilled to see this impressive park, but the surrounding area presents us with a completely different opportunity. Open space, sand dunes, and with the sun beginning to set, could only mean one thing.
The UAE has a strong car drifting culture that has gained significant global traction over the years. For the uninitiated, drifting is achieved by oversteering the car to lose traction in the rear wheels while maintaining control. This makes the car move sideways creating the drift. In the UAE, this has become more than just a driving technique; it has evolved into a cultural phenomenon and a form of motorsport.
Drifting is popular on various surfaces, from amateur events to large international competitions being held on official race circuits, such as the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. However, it is not uncommon for enthusiasts to engage in off-road drifting on sand dunes. The soft and sandy terrain provide a challenging but equally visually striking backdrop for drifting.
When in Dubai, as the popular saying goes, we couldn’t help ourselves to see how Polestar 2 would fair in the sand. Luckily enough, we had our experienced driver and Dubai local, Mohammed Khalifa with us. A car enthusiast at the highest level, Mohammed makes his living as a storyteller and content creator within the world of cars. He has countless hours behind the wheel and was the perfect man to give Polestar 2 a run for its money.
Back to the city
Once the drifting was done, we took out a couple of fold up chairs and watched the sun set. After enjoying some tea in the kind of silence that is only possible in the desert, we prepared ourselves for a return to the bright lights of Dubai.
From the desert outside MBR Solar Park it is roughly an hour’s drive back to the city. As the Dubai skyline grows on the horizon, it is hard to grasp how the once small fishing and trading port has grown to a vertically inclined megalopolis.
Returning to the city and plugging in the car unfortunately brings to an end this particular One Charge Challenge. Next time we are travelling to a much colder and rainier place. Stay tuned!
What is the One Charge Challenge?
The automotive industry is a business measured in litres, kilowatts, and miles per hour. Questions about top speed, maximum range, and horse powers are often at the top of people’s minds (us included). But it is easy to forget that the joy of driving is about more than the numbers we see on our dashboard.
The One Charge Challenge is not about how far we can get on one charge, but about how much we can experience and do on one charge. Measured in experiences, and not in kilometres, it is the car lovers ultimate travel guide.
Click below to read our One Charge Challenge in Denver, Colorado.
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