Outside the city of Dubai, beyond the glittering skyscrapers and artificial archipelagos, you’ll find the Arabian Desert. Exploring the desert is an important part of understanding Emirati culture, and this tour offers a guided introduction to the vast sea of rolling dunes. You can learn more about the cultures that flourish here while also enjoying desert adventures.
Joining a group of others, and accompanied by a guide, venture deep into the sun-baked heart of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, a large swathe of land where the fragile ecosystem and its wild inhabitants are protected. Here, you’ll be welcomed into a traditional Bedouin-style camp where you can spend the evening exploring the desert and perhaps even glimpsing some of the elusive but abundant wildlife that lives here. As the sunlight wanes, you can watch the sunset from the top of a dune before enjoying a traditional feast under the stars.
In the afternoon, you and other visitors will be picked up at your hotel and driven to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. This large protected area was established in 2002 to protect approximately 5% of the country’s landmass and the plants and animals that live here.
The wildlife is shy, but you may be fortunate enough to see some of the many different animals that make the desert their home, including camels, gazelles and Arabian oryx, which were once thought to be extinct, but now roam the reserve in large herds.
Deep in the desert, you’ll receive a traditional welcome as you arrive at a Bedouin-style tent, where you can relax and cool off with a drink. Then, you can choose from a variety of activities that give you a chance to explore the dunes.
If you prefer adrenaline-fuelled fun, go driving on the steep dunes in a 4x4 or slide down them on a sandboard (similar to a snowboard). You might also choose to mount a camel and try riding these ‘ships of the desert’. And, for a more relaxing option, skilled artisans can paint your hands with intricate henna designs.
As the day draws to a close, you can climb to the top of a towering dune to watch the sun sink into the rippling sand. You’ll then return to the tent for a traditional feast, including grilled meats and local sweets. Dancers will entertain you with performances of raqs sharqi, better known as belly dancing, as you enjoy your meal by firelight under the star-dotted night sky.