I have just returned from a 2-week trip to the UAE and Oman. My friend, Ted Cordery from Arizona, joined me on the trip. We met in Dubai, hired a car at the airport and then set off for Al Ain. I visited Al Ain in June and I wanted to show Ted the red dunes and the numerous reptiles that live on these. Once we arrived in Al Ain, we immediately headed up to the top of Jebel Hafeet to the Mercure Hotel where we stayed for the next couple of nights. The views of the surrounding desert were excellent from the hotel which is situated near the top of the mountain. The hotel grounds were lush and acted like a magnet to both local birds and northern migrants. We had lots of fun looking at these. The UAE and Oman are easy countries to visit with high quality accommodation, food and road infrastructure. The people are friendly and helpful. The economies of both seem to be booming and there is construction underway everywhere. I find the regional towns like Al Ain or Salalah to be the most interesting. They are modern but the Arab architecture of the buildings and houses is so different to what we see in Australia or the USA. I would highly recommend a trip to these countries should the opportunity arise. I think that Oman is changing rapidly and now would be a good time to see it before it is frequented by lots of foreign tourists. A new field guide to Oman will be available soon. That book will be a great help since there are many species of reptiles in the two countries and some of these look so similar. Also, it is hard to work out distributions at the moment. Mercure Hotel, Jebel Hafeet: View of Al Ain while descending Jebel Hafeet (Ted's photo): Habitat, dunes. This is the area where we found most of the geckos at night and Arabian Toad-headed Agamas by day. The Mercure Hotel was on top of the mountain in the background: ... oasis where we birded and then looked for herps at night: Arabian Sand Gecko (Stenodactylus arabicus). These little geckos were one of my favourites on the trip. They were small, numerous and usually found on the open slopes of dunes. They could run quickly and looked like minnows in a creek as they raced away. We found as many as 30 of these after walking the dunes for a couple of hours. These geckos have incredible feet. The front feet are webbed and edged with a fringe for better traction on the loose sand: Dune Sand Gecko (Stenodactylus doriae). We saw many of these as well but they were not as common as the Arabian Sand Geckos. There were lots of tracks on these dunes near the edge of the city (Ted's photo). Most were tracks of sandfish but there were also tracks by fringe-toed lizards, geckos and what appeared to be an Arabian Horned Viper (Cerastes gasperettii) This is what we thought to be the tracks to an Arabian Horned Viper (Cerastes gasperettii). We walked this same due during the previous night but did not see the snake. It must have emerged in the early am hours. The location was near a camel farm. A local guy told me on a previous trip that the vipers were more common around farms due to the presence of feed grain and therefore more rodents. White-spotted Fringe-toed Lizard (Acanthodactylus schmidti). As the name indicates, these have fringe on their toes for better traction on the loose dunes. We found several of these large lizards that appeared to be a cross between a whiptail and an Uma. ... tracks: ... burrow: Arabian Toad-headed Agama (Phrynocephalus arabicus). It was hot and the lizards tried to remain above the surface of the sand. They would perch on low branches or rocks and only ran onto the sand when disturbed: Notice the long claws and fringe on the foot of this lizard: Ted's shot of one of the Agamas: Eastern Sandfish (Acanthodactylus schmidti) were common lizards on the dunes. They were always wary lizards and hard to approach. These skinks move continuously up and the down the dunes and will immediately dive into the sand making a big "splash" when they were alarmed. Sandfish usually could not be approached within 5m before diving into the sand. ... they dive into the sand when disturbed but usually keep their head exposed. The head of the sandfish can be seen on the left in this photo: ... they watch like this until closely approached: Ted's photos of an active juvenile. It basked for awhile but then seemed to be continuously on the move over dune flats: Solpugid. I only saw this large creature when it lunged at an Arabian Dune Gecko that I had just been photographing. The gecko got away but perhaps it was only feeble attempt by the solpugid to capture the gecko. The solpugid had already caught some sort of animal and was busy chewing on this while I took the photos. Ted took this shot of my hand near to the solpugid so that the size of the beast could be realized. Oman seems to be a good place for these large arachnids and this was the third species that I have encountered. Spider: Large Tenebrionids like this were occasionally seen on the dunes: Interesting sign. If you need supplies for your camels, well this is the place to go!