Dubai is an emirate that oozes luxury with its skyscrapers, architectural wonders, and shopping centers. But beyond the glamour is an ancient desert and an old Arabian way of life.
Here are some of the best desert experiences in Dubai that you don’t want to miss out.. Don’t forget to put on your sunscreen!
1. Go on a Desert Safari
The desert safari in Dubai is a quintessential activity when visiting the emirate. The desert safaris include cutting passes through the sand in a 4×4 vehicle. You can also indulge in sandboarding, sand sledding, and sand skiing during the safari.
You can opt for morning or evening desert safaris, but night desert safaris are the best, as the desert becomes even more beautiful at night when clouds open up to a sky full of stars.
There are many tour operators offering desert safaris in Dubai, and Platinum Heritage and Arabian Adventures are among the most popular and well known. Platinum Heritage’s impressive array of desert safari experiences includes falconry and wildlife safaris, overnight desert safari with hot air balloon ride, camel trekking safari or a romantic desert safari that includes a Bedouin breakfast and trip to Dubai’s Love Lakes. With Arabian Adventures, camel trekking, starlight camp safaris and jeep safaris to Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah all offer UAE desert adventures.
2. Stay at a Desert Resort – Al Maha, Dubai
Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa, is situated in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve which is just a 45-minutes’ drive from the busy city of Dubai is an ideal getaway for retreating from the city. ‘Maha’, also known as the Arabian Oryx, is one of the many species of wildlife that you encounter at the conservation reserve.
The luxurious Bedouin style tents combine the heritage of Arabia with luxury, and offering private terrace with temperature controlled private swimming pools and guests can enjoy a pampering spa treatment too. The indigenous Arabian wildlife can also be viewed from the pool or sun deck seating area of all Villas.
The resort’s signature restaurant, Al Diwaan is at the heart of Al Maha’s Dining experience and offers organic international & indigenous delicacies.
Al Maha Desert Resort, Al Ain Road, Dubai. Tel: (04) 832 9900
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3. Hop on a hot air balloon and see the desert from the sky
Experience the desert safari from a different perspective by boarding a hot air balloon. Balloon Adventures Dubai offers an intimate hot air balloon experience that takes you to 4000 ft above the Arabian sands. The adventure starts at sunrise, followed by a serene hour-long flight that is worth the early wake-up.
The experience doesn’t end once you land, as you’ll ride in an open-top 1950s vintage Land Rover to reach an authentic heritage desert camp nestled in a Royal Desert Retreat. The ultimate desert adventure ends with a gourmet breakfast and, for those who wish, a short camel ride.
From AED 1,200; ballooning.ae; Tel: (04) 440 9827
4. Dune bashing
Regardless of whether or not you are a thrill seeker at heart, dune bashing in Dubai is a great way to go exploring the vast sands and have some fun.
Big Red DXB are one of the most well-known and reliable buggy rental operators in the region, offering dune buggies and quad bikes for one, two or four, and guided tours. After pickup from your Dubai hotel, travel into the desert by comfortable, air-conditioned 4×4 to Big Red DXB’s base. Once you are there, hop inside the beastly Can-Am X3, throw on your helmet and protection mask, and then it’s an action-packed couple of hours bashing the sand dunes in high-speed quad bikes and dune buggies, with a steady supply of refreshments to keep energy levels high.
Dune buggy sessions with Big Red DXB take place daily at 6.30am.
From AED 1200; Tel: +971 54 311 11 88
5. Visit a desert camp – Sonara Camp
The Sonara desert camp is a big desert camp located in the middle of the Dubai Desert Conservation. The camp offers a lifetime dining experience under an indigo canopy of desert stars as food is prepped by a world-class chef combining classic Arabian fare with an East-meets-West twist.
The desert magic of Sonara Camp doesn’t end with the food and drink, It also offers everything one can want from a day in the desert, including a plethora of activities like sandboarding, soft archery, dune bashing, camel rides, falcon shows, light shows, live music and a star-gazing session. After enjoying the meal, lounge at the outdoor cinema under the sky with a post-dinner movie complete with popcorn and a cocktail.
Sonara Camp Dubai, Dubai Desert Conservation
6. Encounter wildlife at Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
Board a range rover with a professional safari guide who will take you around the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve to find the free-roaming wildlife herds. Inhabitants of the reserve include Arabian gazelle, desert monitors, Sand gazelle and even the rare Gordon’s wildcat, as well as a glut of other unusual fauna like the Ethiopian hedgehog, side-winding vipers, Rueppell’s Fox, Arabian hare, the pygmy shrew, and sand cats.
From Dhs595. Tel: (0)4 412 6333, platinum-heritage.com
7. Desert glamping – Starlight Camp
Spend the night in bubble tent with a transparent roof to allow for long nights of star-gazing. Guests will stay in a luxurious 30-meter-square bubble tent with a queen size bed, comfy duvet, a small fridge, board games, a Bluetooth speaker, and other amenities that are suitable for two adults.
The camp also accommodates little ones and pets too.
Starlight Camping, Dubai Desert, from Dhs2,400 per night. Tel: (050) 345 5358
8. Go on a camel safari and explore the desert
You’re bound to see camels in the desert in Dubai so why not experience riding one? A Camel Desert Safari is the most traditional way to explore the Dubai desert.
Camels were very important in Emirati culture, used for transport, milk and meat. They are known as the ships of the desert due to the ease at which they elegantly stride across the desert sands. Platinum Heritage offers a 45-minute long camel ride along with the opportunity to observe a falcon show.
Tel: (0)4 412 6333, platinum-heritage.com
9. Try desert quad biking
Dubai’s desert quad biking is an off-road adventure where you can hear nothing but the roar of your quad bike engine. Enjoy the outstanding view of the irregular desert of Dubai as your activity your quad bike through the steep hills, low plateaus, and vast-open canyons.
Quad Bike Dubai will enable you to move around the challenging desert terrain and have fun with your family and loved ones.