We are a small team and with a very hard eighteen months (2016-2017), we decided to continue our tradition of doing something special for our depleted team to celebrate the upswing of our business towards the end of the year. We went out to the desert.
I had done this tour before and thought it was a new experience to share with my colleagues that included my brother and his wife, and Jocelyn who has been with us for a very long time too. It was time for them to discover a thoughtful, sustainable Dubai.
It was an early morning start so we could see the sun rise over the desert dunes. Its a great way to ring in a new day, full of hopes and promises. We were part of a larger group but we had a very gregarious driver and jeep dedicated for our little group of four and Dillon was garrulous, helpful and passionate – just the way it should be. We carried on to the DDCR office where we were updated on the local flora and fauna and the efforts being made to release and sustain the ecosystem in the desert.
We drove through a herd of feeding Arabian Oryx. It was a treat to see that the species has been downgraded from “danger” to “vulnerable” in the extinction lists. We then were shown a display of three of the key birds as part of the sustainable venture where the team from Royal Shaheen shared the history of the birds and its relationship to the local ecosystem, the community and their traits. We discovered that there are owls native to the desert and other than those bred in captivity, we were privileged to see one in the wild as we walked around looking at spoors and trails of local fauna including jerboa, gerbils, and foxes. We saw some of the remnants of the scavenges of the owls and foxes and learnt about the ecosystem including the “firebushes” and ghaf trees.
We saw several other species of gazelles, the houbara bustard (also now reintroduced into the wild). As part of the tour, Frying Pan Adventures teamed up with Goumbook’s Give a Ghaf. We planted two ghaf trees – one we called Nashipai (apparently that means The Happy One in Masai) and the other we called Africa – both inspired by Bish’s wife, Wasila who is actually from Ghana.
We finished the tour of the desert with a picnic breakfast from Baker & Spice who put together some of the key ingredients of a Middle Eastern breakfast sourced or made locally (and in some cases extended regionally for quality). We had delicious labneh on freshly baked Kaak bread, sprinkled with Nigella seeds (also calld onion seeds, kalo jeera or Habbat ul Sawda), sliced of freshly cut tomato, cucumber, boiled egg, a sprinkling of zaatar made by B&S, a drizzle of olive oil washed down by sweet karak chai picked up from the petrol station on the way to the tour. This was followed by a crostata (buttery light flaky pastry) topped with fresh fruits and berries. A fitting finish to the evening.
We all took lots of photos and videos but here are a few of them that will give you a flavour of what we saw and did.
So from our team to yours – hope you had a spectacular year and hope the New Year brings you joyous and profitable moments to share with your team.
Happy New Year!