An Aussie Surfing in Dubai

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About as graceful as I get.
About as graceful as I get.

An UnAustralian Confession

I’m just going to put it out there: I’m a terrible Australian in some regards. I think Victoria Bitter tastes like muddy water, I think lamb tastes like feet, and I can’t surf.

You read that right.

I grew up in Australia and spent every summer on the coast, but I never learned to surf. I’m a decent swimmer, a certified scuba diver, and I love a good boogey board – but try and get me upright on a board and I’m hopelessly out of my depth.

And this is even after learning to surf in Sydney back in 2010.

So, when the Hidden Dubai team suggested I go surfing in Dubai I had two thoughts:

  1. “Oh crap, they’re onto me! They’re going to think I’ve been lying about being Australian” and;

  2. “You can surf in Dubai?”

Daunted though I might have been, I’m nothing if not game to give anything a go once.

 

Jumeirah Surf Beach

Jumeirah Surf Beach, located in the shadow of the stunning Burj Al Arab, is a long stretch of white sand that was literally¬†swarming with people on the Friday I visited. With Friday and Saturday being the ‘days off’ in Dubai, everyone and their dog was out to soak in the sun.

Far from the uptight image some might have of a Middle Eastern country, the beach in Dubai felt no different to South Beach in Miami, Bondi in Sydney, or the beaches of Phuket. There was surf. There was sand. People in bikinis played beach volleyball. Kids ate ice cream.

Heck, there was even a groovy little hippy festival going on with acoustic music, long hair, and a coconut water promotion.

Singing political songs and making me want to go all Animal House on him.
Singing political songs and making me want to go all Animal House on him.

I hadn’t expected to find this little slice of cruisy beach paradise amidst all of the hustle and bustle of the city. It was as if I’d left the glitzy city and traveled to a cruisy beachside town without having had to travel more than 10-15 minutes from the city.

Perhaps most surprising, for me, was seeing dozens of people out in the surf riding waves.

I had no idea Dubai had such a big surf culture.

Learning Surfing in Dubai

My teacher for the day would be Maria, a Tunisian born Dubai resident who learned to surf in Australia.

Despite me being her first ever pupil, she was a fantastic teacher. She was encouraging through my many (many) falls, and confided in my that I wasn’t surfing in ideal conditions.

I’ll say. It felt like I was in a washing machine. Waves were coming in at weird angles, and even the hardened locals weren’t having the best time of it.

As you can see below, I was awful.

In my defense, I did actually get upright and catch a wave in at one point, but my long-suffering cameraman got caught from behind by a breaker and unceremoniously washed ashore like a wet dog.

Sorry, Ed!

This is the best footage of me actually surfing. I swear, I did actually do better than this!
This is the best footage of me actually surfing. I swear, I did actually do better than this!

While I took a beating and didn’t manage to master the art, it was a fun re-introduction to a discipline I haven’t attempted since 2010.

Dubai might not be a destination that is synonymous with surfing, but it’s good to know that the option is there. The nearby Surf House offers rentals on surf boards and stand up paddle boards, as well as doing a mean coffee.

It was a bruising, but awesome encounter. I’ve since given some serious thought into taking some lessons back here in Coffs Harbour.

I can’t be the only Aussie not able to surf…

Defeated, I head back to Surf House to return my board.
Defeated, I head back to Surf House to return my board.

Your Say

Have you tried your hand at surfing before? Where did you learn?

My surfing experience was paid for as a part of the Hidden Dubai campaign in conjunction with Yahoo, Emirates, and Dubai Tourism. All opinions are my own.

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