Shoals of killer whales, packs of hungry lions, the commute down Salam Street – these are things you should rightly be afraid of. But a little harmless spider, going for a swim, staring out of the window of a high building? Really, despite being common phobias, these aren’t exactly life threatening, and it’s about time you got over them. Forget lying in a psychiatrist’s chair, telling some tweed jacket-wearing egghead about how your mother didn’t show you enough love; instead, read our Time Out guide to easing your fears and you’ll be turned from panic-ridden scaredy-cat to courageous hero in no time.
Acrophobia: Fear of heights
Gentle cure: Whenever you’re in a high place, are you left reeling with terror at the thought of plummeting to your death? Do you avoid walking close to edges? A good way to ease this fear would be to book a meal at Al Fanar, a revolving restaurant that’s 31 stories up atop Le Royal Méridien Hotel. Steal a few glances out of the (very thickly glassed – we promise) window at the picturesque views, it won’t hurt you now will it?
Al Fanar, Le Royal Méridien, Al Markaziyah (02 414 9400)
Shock therapy: If you really want to take the bull by the horns, then throwing yourself out of a plane is about as far as you can push it without actually dying. So try signing up for a skydiving session at the Umm Al Quwain Aeroclub. After this, a career as a steeplejack or mountaineer will be well within your grasp.
Dhs1,000 for tandem skydive. Umm Al Quwain Aeroclub. Next to Barracuda Hotel and near Dreamland and Emirates Motorplex, on the E11 between Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah, www.uaqaeroclub.com (06 768 1447)
Aviophoboa: Fear of flying
Gentle cure: Air travel is statistically the safest form of transport, a fact the A-Team’s BA Baracus refused to accept. If you share the gold chain-loving hard-man’s fear of being airborne, a good way to resolve your issues would be to book a helicopter flight with Falcon Aviation, which runs regular flights from Marina Mall. It’s pretty costly, so if you spend your flight sitting in the corner shivering with your eyes shut, you’ll be wasting a fair bit of cash. Best to bite the bullet and peek out at the sweeping panoramas beneath you.
Dhs625 for 20 minutes, Dhs875 for 30 minutes. Falcon Aviation, Marina Mall (02 444 0007)
Shock therapy: If you really need to kill your phobia with a massive dose of adrenaline, take a paragliding course. The UAE Micro Aviation Club meets on the Abu Dhabi/ Dubai border for some extreme flying. Basically, the sport is like parachuting, except you take off from the ground, and then manoeuvre yourself through the air.
Dhs3,500 for a year’s membership. Micro Aviation Club, Ghantoot, Abu Dhabi, www.microaviation.org (050 291 7177)
Hydrophobia: Fear of water
Gentle cure: What with sharks, rip tides, pirates and the like, if you suffer from this phobia, you’ve got a good case. But, then again, these threats aren’t likely to hurt you if you’re just going for a gentle paddle in the ocean, so you really should pull yourself together. If you do suffer from hydrophobia, why not go for a dip at the public beach, where burly lifeguards are on hand to make sure you’re not eaten alive by Jaws or made to walk the plank by Captain Blackbeard.
Dhs10 for entry. Abu Dhabi Public Beach, Corniche Road, www.bakeuae.com
Shock therapy: If you really want to push your water fear to the point of no return, then freediving is probably about as extreme as you can get. With this activity, you submerge yourself as far as you can on one lungful of air. Why not contact Freediving UAE, which holds regular training sessions in the waters around Abu Dhabi?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
Arachnophobia: Fear of spiders
Gentle cure: With the creepy way they move, we think you’ve got a right to be scared of spiders. But on the other hand, most of them are completely harmless and are far more afraid of you than you are of them (or is that bears? We forget). A good way to start overcoming your arachnid terror is to head to Al Badiya Gifts store in the Khalifa Centre; they sell preserved spiders and scorpions. The camel spider might be truly horrific looking, but it’s long dead and under glass, so is completely harmless. We recommend sitting on your bed and staring at this for a few hours. Follow that up with petting it twice a day, and you’re solid.
Dhs60. Al Badiya Gifts, Khalifa Centre, opposite Abu Dhabi Mall (02 644 9336)
Shock therapy: The Liwa desert is known to be home to a few dreaded camel spiders, even though they’re pretty rare. Apparently, they live off small insects, lizards and scorpions, so why not take a boxful of crickets as bait, book a desert safari with Arabian Adventures, catch one and make it your beloved pet?
Arabian Adventures, Corniche Road, www.arabianadventures.com (02 691 1171)
Phonophobia: Fear of loud noises
Gentle cure: Head to Rock Night at PJ O’Reilly’s Irish bar, where house band White Rabbit regularly turn their amps all the way up to 11, ensuring a profitable year for the city’s hearing aid retailers. Just quaff a couple of courage-boosting brews, join the mosh pit, and your phonophobia will be as dead as your eardrums.
Free, Thursdays, from 8pm. PJ O’Reilly’s, Le Royal Méridien (02 414 9400)
Shock therapy: Get down to one of the drag racing meets at Yas Island, pocket the earplugs you’re handed on arrival and wait for some of the top fuel drag racers to start. We’re not exaggerating, the fire-spitting machines produce the loudest sound we’ve ever heard – and we’ve been to a Metallica concert.
Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island, www.ymc.ae
Tryphanophobia: Fear of needles
Gentle cure: If you’re afraid of being jabbed by metal, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, because some real tough guys share your affliction, including former heavyweight boxing champ Sonny Liston and nimble martial arts star Jackie Chan. Maybe they should have opted for a spot of acupuncture, where you’re pin-cushioned full of needles in your back. Thankfully, you’re facing downwards, so you won’t actually see the point when the needle pierces your flesh. Try the Gulf Chinese Medical Centre on Airport Road for a spot of the ancient treatment.
Gulf Chinese Medical Centre, Corner Building on Old Airport Road near Al Nasr Street (02 634 3538)
Shock therapy: If a medical worker is sticking a needle into you, they’re more than likely injecting you with some lifesaving concoction, so why be afraid? But if the thought of saving your own life isn’t an impelling enough reason, maybe the realisation that a jab could save other lives as well might be. So why not go along and give blood at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City – they estimate that for every unit (450ml) of blood you donate you save three lives.
Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, next to Khalidiyah Mall. 7.30am-8.30pm on weekdays, 7.30am-1pm on Saturdays, closed Fridays (02 819 1700)
Camel spider myths
Myth: Camel spiders can run 40kph, screaming all the way.
Fact: The maximum recorded speed of the species is 16kph, which is fast, but nothing to write home about. And if they’re running in your direction they’re probably trying to get out of the heat and into your shade, rather than bite your leg off.
Myth: Camel spider venom is an anaesthetic that they use to chew off large chunks of your flesh while you sleep.
Fact: Most of them don’t have venom, and the ones that do are mostly based in India. They can bite, but will only do so in self-defence; the biggest risk being subsequent infection. Walk it off, wimps.
Myth: Camel spiders can be as large as a Frisbee.
Fact: The spiders are not that large. The average size of an adult camel spider is 12cm. Some reports will contradict this, but modern science feels that they’re exaggerated. We like the science.
Five ridiculous phobias
Consecotaleophobia: Fear of chopsticks, usually comes hand-in-hand with sinophobia, or fear of all that is Chinese. We suspect that the latter originated in Wall Street.
Our advice: Start off with sushi, to isolate the first issue. Once the maki stops haunting your nightmares, try some dim sum. You can do it.
Chromophobia: Fear of bright colours. Unfortunate souls who suffer from this hate parades, cry in horror at rainbows, and can’t stomach cheap, colourful ice lollies.
Our advice: Only leave your home at night, wear super-dark shades, and never, ever visit Las Vegas. Or San Francisco.
Lepidopterophobia: Fear of butterflies. They’re small, colourful, and weigh in somewhere between a chewing gum and a small feather; run for your lives!
Our advice: Wear red, yellow, orange and pink and cover your arms with nectar. Now head out to your garden and sit still until the beasties spot you. Stop crying. Stop crying.
Coulrophobia: Fear of clowns; because clowns are evil.
Our advice: Rent the film It (1990 – yes it’s that old) and watch it on a portable DVD player while wearing a clown suit and sitting in Ronald McDonald’s lap. Warning: you might seem slightly off, to the untrained eye.
Anatidaephobia: The fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you.
Our advice: Quack.