For some, sandboarding is just another craze. For others it is a casual sport. But for Dune Raiders, it is the next big thing in Egypt – something the country can take to a new level and possibly export internationally. Not only can the sport flourish in Egypt because of the soft sand and abundance of desert, but because of the energy of those involved in the sport.
On the beautiful, pristine sands of the Qattaneya area, just 70 km outside 6th of October City, Dune Raiders organised a local sandboarding competition as part of the international world series. It was the first sandboarding competition in the country.
The day started off at 8am at the meeting point at Salah Salem. About 12 cars packed with people set off and, at multiple stops along the way, those coming in their own cars joined. Qattaneya is a ways from Cairo’s city centre, but, because it was Friday, it was a breeze to get through the city.
After swerving off the main road to enter the desert and a 10-minute, very bumpy, but strangely exciting ride, the competitors reached a massive sand dune where many enthusiasts gather for a quick getaway from the city (we were joined by dirt bike enthusiasts who happened to be in the area.).
Erik Johnson, a former sandboarding world champion, judged the competition. Johnson, who started his career as a snowboarder, and said sandboarding is just as much fun as the snow sport, but can be done all year round,
“The country here lends itself to this sport and the people here have great energy,” Johnson said. “They’re just hungry for something and they will take it to the next level.”
“The sand here is perfect for the sport; it is soft and fast and it means Egypt can become an international destination for the sport, which will help with tourism,” he added.
Kareem Hossam, who founded the event, said it all started when he went skiing in Europe and tried to replicate the experience in Egypt. Today, years later, there are many enthusiasts who are involved with the sport, either casually or devotedly.
After the competition, people were allowed to sandboard as much as they wanted to, with a few safety tips from the organisers. Beach buggies were available to rent, and a trampoline, paintball and free snacks, juice and water were available all day long. Most people preferred to use their time sandboarding, however, and did not make much use of the other activities.
With a grilled chicken and kofta lunch at 5pm, an all-day DJ and a live show of Bedouin music at 4pm, there was more than enough entertainment for those braving the heat and sand. One of the best feelings about Dune Raider Rush was that most people were in a happy mood. With clear skies and a nice breeze, it was hard not to catch the fever even if you were not a sandboarding enthusiast.
The next time you need a break from the city, consider Qattaneya and its beautiful dunes. Even if you have never tried it before, sandboarding is exciting and accessible. Seasoned sandboarders are helpful and make you feel part of the community. Just make sure you wear practical clothes and bring lots of water.