Now an Essential Item As a Ship of the Desert
As part of the export strategy for the Land Cruiser a sales net was cast over Middle Eastern countries like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates. Now the Land Cruiser is well established in this region with a proud history spanning over 50 years.
Sultanate of Oman − Middle East
The Fresh Fish Express of the Desert
Located about 300km to the southeast of the capital city Masqat of the Sultanate of Oman, there are a series of fishing villages lining the coast facing the Arabian Sea. The beaches along this coast are long and shallow, and there are no ports where ships can dock. The local fisherman either have to set out in small fishing craft, or dock off of a larger mother ship offshore, and bring their daily catch ashore in small craft.
The fishermen approach the shore in these small craft, their nets loaded with fish, and then are towed up on the beach by the waiting Land Cruisers on the shore. The fishermen spread out sheets along the sand upon which they open their nets and gather up the fish caught within. The fish glimmer in the sun as they dance on these sheets, while the fishermen transfer them to special ice refrigeration tanks on the truck beds of the waiting Land Cruiser pickups. Having unloaded their catch, the Land Cruisers then push the fishing craft back out to the water's edge where they return for the next catch.
The closest ice manufacturing plant is located 100km to 150km away. It is here that brokers wait to negotiate prices on the catch. On this beach there were a variety of trucks, from the 75-type to the 45-type, but all of them Land Cruisers. Once the trucks are loaded with the fish packed in ice the load can exceed 2-tons. Carrying this heavy load these Land Cruisers then travel at speeds around 150km/h across flat dirt in order to get to the broker's market as quickly as possible. Some of them travel that way directly on to Masqat or even to neighboring countries. The only truck that is tough enough to handle a job like this is the Land Cruiser.
The Land Cruisers both pull the small craft up on the beach, and push them back out to sea. Of course they get exposed to plenty of seawater in the process, but even under these tough conditions there are Land Cruiser 45Ps still hard at work!
United Arab Emirates − Middle East
Pleasures of The Dunes
In the United Arab Emirates there are lots of desert tours conducted for the benefit of foreign tourists. We got into a Land Cruiser 100 to pass through the highway and into the desert.
As soon as the tour companies cars had all arrived with their passengers we set out across the desert. The drivers were quite accustomed to driving on desert, and treated the participants to some thrilling rides up and down the sand dunes. Then we took a break during which time the participants could enjoy some cool drinks while watching the drivers demonstrate some dramatic desert driving stunts.
Next they took us to a camel bazaar. Here we were able to enjoy another rest stop, as well as get souvenir pictures taken with the camels. There are a number of such tour companies in Dubai, and they all end up gathering at this bazaar. The vehicle of choice for most of them is the Land Cruiser 100. The various groups gathered in groups of 5 or 10 vehicles to take pictures.
Just as evening set in we arrived at the desert sink were various tents were set up, with a carpet set up in the middle of the campsite. Here we enjoyed barbeque, water pipes, Arabian coffee, and belly dancing! If it weren't for the Ramadan Fast, we would have been served beer as well. This was a very new and wonderful way to enjoy the desert.
Once the camel was known as the Ship of the Desert, but now the Land Cruiser bears that name, where it is used on tours for tourists. These tours give people a chance to experience the world of the Arabian Nights.
One mistake and the desert can turn into a hell, but these Land Cruisers with reduced pressure in their tires cruise freely up, down, and across the sand dunes.
State of Bahrain − Middle East
An Island Country of Oil and Finance
The State of Bahrain is made up of 35 islands in the Persian Gulf. In about 3,000 BC during the Era of Babylon, this area was already a major crossroads of trade. Now it is a petroleum-producing nation, also active in inviting overseas banks and investments in the financial industry, where it serves as a financial center in the Middle East.
There were no desert tours conducted here of course, but the Land Cruiser 100 was very much in evidence as a prestige item. The local dealers had impressive showrooms, where they sold Land Cruisers as a luxury car. Of course you still see a lot of 80-series Land Cruisers in the streets as well.
Among the desert people, falconry remains as a time-honored hobby of men of noble birth. This sport is quite popular in Bahrain as well, and for this people use a Land Cruiser to get out to the desert, although being a country made of islands there is not much desert to go around!
According to a local Land Cruiser owner we met in Bahrain, ''The Land Cruiser has always been around, ever since I can remember. It wouldn't matter how much the model changed, I can't imagine driving anything else.'' Although it is used in many different ways in the Middle East, the Land Cruiser is considered to be a car that you cannot do without.
A new Land Cruiser lined up next to an older one. This is not the desert, but a private garden in the UAE.
This Land Cruiser 100 has a sense of presence that befits the atmosphere here in Masqat.
These days you see 90-series Prado here in Dubai.