The high rate of accidents has not deterred the adventure-seeking people from driving their 4-wheelers on the sand dunes of Mesaieed. A large number of families continue to head to the dunes, despite the dangers that lurk in the area.
The accident rate is frightening in this area. In June, a six-year-old boy died after being crushed by his quad bike. These are 4-wheel motorcycle bikes that are used on the dunes. A 34-year-old Filipina was left paralysed after the car flipped due to the stunt and other performances which the driver undertook while on the dunes.
“The police and other authorities can only warn the people, but the decision to continue with the daredevilry rests with the people. On an average per weekend there are two-three accidents on the dunes," says Anshuman Mohanty, one of the drivers on the dunes.
Quad bikes or Quads are rented out at the entrance to the dunes. The driver has to be above 18 years to ride them. Even though there are restrictions, adults still lend these bikes to children. Quads are really heavy and one can get killed in an accident. They are dangerous on paved roads and are meant to be ridden off roads only. These bikes are rented at a maximum of QR500 per hour, with the engine capacity ranging from 100 cc to 700 cc.
Prohibitive rents and the prospect of flirting with danger take a backseat for the most quad bikers. “When I am riding a quad bike, I feel nothing can stop me. It's a 'I am on top of the world' feeling," said Ahmed Salem, a student from Cairo University.
It can be fun if the sport is done carefully. Protective gear should be used while riding the bike, but most of the desert adventurers prefer riding without any protective gear. They are mostly seen with shorts, a tee and a black scarf with gloves to prevent the sand from hitting the face and the eyes.
Most parents in Qatar discourage their children from going on the dunes with their friends.
“It’s not safe for my son to be dunning. The accident rate is high in that area and one cannot tell when the driver might lose control of the car,” says Mark D'Souza, a concerned parent.
DOHA • Even though Mesaieed is an accident prone area, people still flock to the dunes in large numbers to witness the performances put up by the drivers.
The main stunt drivers head for the dunes on Fridays. They start driving on the dunes around 4-5 pm doing 90 degree drops, skidding and showing off their talent to all those watching. On an average, there would be around 70-100 cars below the main dune on which the stunt is being performed .15-30 cars make their way to the top to get a better view of the stunts taking place in the middle of the dune.
The drivers make sure that the cars which take to the dunes to put on a show have special equipment which helps them give off their best performance.
"The dunes are like my home and I have alot of fun out here. One has to have good control over the car as you risk not only your life but also the lives of the people with you in the car," says Tanvir, an experienced driver. Dunning now has received negative publicity due to the number of accidents that take place. But this doesn't stop the people of Qatar from going out to the dunes with their families for the weekend.
Just a few careless drivers need to stop and think of what dangers they face while acting irresponsible. In the end it boils down to how much experience one has and what amount of risk is he taking to gain the title of a 'stunt performer'.
Tips for drivers
n Your vehicle must be in first class condition
n Carry plenty of water and food
n Deflate your tyres before driving on sand
n Don't corner fast with deflated tyres
n Travel in groups, if you can
n Carry a handheld GPS
n Never park your car where it can't be seen
n Try not to turn your car sideways on a slope
n Carry a wooden board in case you need to jack up your car on sand
n Carry a cellphone and charger
The news makes too much of a big deal. This is a form of X-Games and when people decide to do it, they're putting their lives in their OWN hands. Nobody says anything about skateboarding, extreme blading, motocross etc... and they're equally as dangerous.