(click to view photos)

Additional Photos

Archery in Dubai
By Rick Stonebraker
Oct 13-15, 2005

I had the privilege of teaching an archery instructors course in Dubai recently. This came about back in April when a Texan working as an oil manager in Dubai came to Houston on business. (See WHODATHUNKIT)

During a day off, I instructed and he earned his Level One Instructor Certification and came back the following Sunday to learn more. He was pretty excited about his new found archery experience and went back to the Dubai Archery Club expressing enthusiasm to his fellow archers. That got the ball rolling with the club and then through e-mail, the club asked if I was interested in traveling to Dubai to instruct more potential instructors.
The Dubai Archery club has an excellent archery range on the grounds of the Dubai Country Club where it is flat and lots of sand…it is in a desert. They have introduced many people to the sport with their energy, enthusiasm and are a positive influence in the development of archery in the U.A.E. (United Arab Emirates). Some of the 14 students came from the local Dubai Archery Club and the rest came from desert resorts in the area. These resorts offer archery but more or less on the basis of the instructors showing them the equipment and where the range is. That is about the extent of their program, so they were more than excited to be instructed in the correct manner of teaching others. They learned a whole lot more than they bargained for. They seemed to have a great time and were filled with enthusiasm.
There was a definite language barrier but it all worked out. The nationalities of the students included: South African, English, Scottish, French, Spanish, Pakistan, Indian, Moroccan, Iranian and two Texans. The mid afternoon temperatures averaged 108F with a peak of 116F. Summer temperatures can be a blistering 126F.

An off day took me on a safari into the desert to an authentic Bedouin camp. We were in a caravan of 20 four-wheel drive vehicles that traversed the dunes and did some hair raising dips and curves. We stopped at a camel breeding area to take photos and mingle with the Dromedaries before continuing on. We stopped along the way to take photos of the sun as it set across the sea of sand.

We arrived at the Bedouin camp at dusk and road the camels around the camp for awhile. Everyone sat on pillows and carpets under tents and dined on traditional dishes and meats. Belly dancing was curtailed during the holy month of Ramadan as well as eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset.
Restaurants are closed during daylight hours unless they can be totally shielded from the viewing public. They can sell food to go but the food cannot be eaten in public. Food courts in malls are closed during daylight hours.
Most of the drinking water in that part of the middle east comes from desalination plants where salt is extracted from sea water becoming distilled water and then minerals added back. Ground water in the form of artesian wells crops up in many places in the desert region called Wadis, similar to an oasis.

We drove past the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture that is trying to cope with the problems of saline soils or irrigation with salty water. Its mission is to develop and promote the use of sustainable agricultural systems that use saline water to grow crops. We take good drinking water for granted.

I left Houston on Oct 7 to fly to Chicago to London, changed planes and continued on to Dubai where it took me a little over 20 hours traveling time. Dubai is nine time zones from Houston. I adapted quickly but going to bed at 10pm at night is 1pm in the afternoon Houston time. The trip home on Oct 17 took 23 hours as we had to disembark in Chicago, claim our luggage, go through customs and check our bags back onto the same airplane we got off to continue to Houston.

It was an enlightening trip, very diverse and an excellent experience!

Rick Stonebraker