Bigger, taller, faster, better
Dubai is a city where it’s easy to run out of superlatives. Home to the world’s tallest building and largest shopping centre, this is a megacity, a place where records are always being broken. That’s why it has been one of the most exciting destinations for the Porsche Travel Experience over the last 25 years. Even a city tour in a sports car has a special charm. Cruise along the magnificent 14-lane Sheik Zayed Road, past a skyline of architectural masterpieces and glittering glass facades seemingly straight out of a sci-fi movie set, the desert shimmering in the distance. However, Porsche enthusiasts enjoy their true driving experience away from this oasis of skyscrapers, as regular attendees at one of the Porsche Travel Experiences that have taken place in Dubai will tell you enthusiastically.
To where the road rises with you
We drive out of the desert city, the journey continuing in the direction of Oman. We head about 165 km (103 miles) due south on a four-lane motorway that is as straight as a ruler. There is zero traffic – it’s just you and the awe-inspiring majesty of the desert. Thankfully, the heat remains on the outside, while inside the air conditioning whispers gently.
We are slowly gaining altitude. A mountain range rises gently out of the sand and appears almost to be heading into nothingness, along a stunning mountain road. There’s Jebel Hafeet, a bizarre rock formation that shimmers pink in the setting sun. The wind picks up here, causing the temperature to drop from 40 degrees Celsius to a fresher 30 degrees. If it weren’t for the haze, we would be able to see the tip of the Burj Khalifa from up here, jutting upwards from the horizon. But there are still sweeping views across the desert to be enjoyed.
Jebel Hafeet could well be described as the mother of all hill climb tracks. Some 11.7km (7.3 miles) long and with an average gradient of eight per cent, it’s devoid of blind curves and features a meticulously laid, beautifully appointed asphalt surface. The road was blasted into the rocks by a German construction company in the 1980s and artfully rounded with 60 curves. In the Porsche Cayenne, it’s a road to be tamed and, most of all, to enjoy.
The call of the desert
A completely different terrain and driving experience awaits Porsche Travel Experience participants in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. Admission to the endless expanse of the nature reserve is by special permit only. We lower the tyre pressures on our Porsche Cayenne, and the off-road caravan heads out on its adventure. We channel our way through the spongy ground with abandon. Fountains of sand shoot into the air, cloaking the car. It is vital to maintain enough distance from the vehicle in front at all times and to keep your vehicle moving. If you get stuck in deep sand there is nothing else you can do other than get out, brave the intense heat and push.
Cresting the orange waves
The desert is relentless. The sun beats pitilessly down on the roof of the vehicle and warms the sand to scorching temperatures. The outdoor thermometer shows 39 degrees Celsius – and that’s in winter. The extreme conditions drive my pulse up and demand my full concentration. Every time I climb the crest of a dune, there’s brief silence before I let the car roll down slowly to the other side. I feel like I’m in my element. I try to catch the perfect moment, harnessing the momentum to catapult myself onto the next dune crest with a spirited dab of the throttle.
We feel the full elemental force of the mighty desert. A force that creates surges of adrenaline. At the same time, we also experience a child-like sense of glee at being free to play here, in the world’s most beautiful sandpit. If there was any doubt before, then there is none now – Dubai is a place of superlatives.
This story is part of the 25 Years of Porsche Travel Experience anniversary series. We take you on a virtual world tour around the globe – with a new, fascinating episode each week. Click here to read all stories.