Twice the fun: On the Ras Al Khaimah zipline, you can soar through the air in pairs
© Kamran Jebreili/dpa Picture-Alliance

Superhero of the desert


I stand poised high above the stony desert in the emirate Ras Al Khai-mah, waiting for the word go. Very soon, I will be hurtling through the air at 150 kilometers an hour, well secured by a safety harness and wearing a helmet, but unprotected by a gondola or any other sort of enclosure. Suspended from a zipline, I will soar at top speed, Superwoman-like, for a distance of 2.8 kilometers. A hot wind blows off the summit of Jebel Jais, the highest peak in the United Arab Emirates. I’m about to ride (here’s another superlative) the longest zipline in the world.

“Ready?” someone asks, and four strong hands push me out over the abyss. I’m shocked at how fast I accelerate; my nose and throat dry out instantly and my ears fill with the rushing sound of the attachment as it zips along the steel wire. I cling with both hands to the short piece of rope that I was handed as a psychological prop. The ride lasts for about two minutes – long enough for me to get accustomed to the feeling of freefall and even to start enjoying it.

Back on the ground, my knees shake and my head seems to contain nothing, not a single thought. I’m overcome with a feeling that I cannot describe. I try anyway: “That’s really living!” or “Wow, that’s what it’s all about.” I wait for the car that is supposed to pick me up. A dusty goat stands beside me in the shade, chewing its cud. Another thought pops into my head: “Adrenaline – what a wonderful thing!”