The wind is relentless today. It sighs over the dunes, whipping up the sand so it stings the legs of the tourists in their shorts. It whistles through empty window frames, sun-bleached and scoured by 100 years of sun and wind and heat.

Some of the buildings are buried almost up to their roofs in sand. Others, built high on the dunes, stand clear of the shifting desert, but their pitted woodwork tells a story of a place where it is either hot or battered by blowing sand or, most of the time, both...

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