Dubai is known for its modern architecture, diverse culture, and unique attractions. However, let’s not forget that long before the emirate — and the rest of the UAE, for that matter — became the bustling cities they are today, they used to be deserts… vast, natural, and simply beautiful.
Today, there are several places in the country where you can enjoy camel-riding, camping (or “glamping”), sand-boarding, and other desert activities. We’ve gathered some of these “desert resorts” in the following post, to serve as your guide to the ultimate desert experience, right here in the UAE!
Where to Go for the Ultimate Desert Adventure in the UAE
From the desert of Dubai to the sand dunes of Abu Dhabi, across the emirates of Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah, we present to you the best luxury desert resorts in the UAE:
Located along Al Qudra Road, right across from Endurance City in Dubai, is Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa. It’s not too far from downtown Dubai, yet here you will feel like you’re miles and miles away from the city! It features restaurants, swimming pools, camel rides, falconry, dune buggies, and the Sinbad Kids Club with fun activities for the little ones. Check out our staycation experience in Bab Al Shams here.
Address: Al Qudra Road, Opposite Endurance City, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: +971 4 809 6100
The Anantara Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort and Spa is situated in the Liwa Desert, which is about a two-hour drive away from Abu Dhabi City. A trip to this grand resort is like stepping back in time, a truly Arabian retreat nestled in a desert oasis. Here, you can go camel-riding, dune bashing, fat biking, sand-boarding, or simply go hiking across the desert.
Address: Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: +971 2 886 2088
The Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert in Ras Al Khaimah is just an hour’s drive from Dubai International Airport, making it very accessible for tourists and visitors. Each villa comes with a pool — your own private oasis in the desert! Guests can also join nature walks, desert safaris, falconry, archery, and other activities.
Address: Al Mazraa, Wadi Khadija, Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: +971 7 206 7777
#4 – Al Wathba Desert Resort and Spa in Abu Dhabi
Also located in Abu Dhabi is Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort and Spa. Featuring 103 rooms and villas, the resort is definitely a luxury stop, with spa rooms, a yoga retreat area, and several dining options. It also serves a traditional Bedouin desert camp dinner, which sounds really exciting, don’t you think?!
Address: Al Wathba District, 50 km South East Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: +971 2 204 4444
Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa is part of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. It offers 42 private villas and a variety of desert activities! If a “staycation” is what you prefer, here you can relax in your own private pool and indulge in a spa treatment. Cool!
Address: Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, Al Ain Road, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: +971 4 832 9900
About 90 minutes from Abu Dhabi is Telal Resort, on the outskirts of Al Ain. Aside from offering grand accommodations, the resort has a traditional Emirati restaurant, an international restaurant, and an infinity pool. Guests here can also go camel riding, horse riding, and explore the Zaman Lawal Heritage Village to learn more about the local culture.
Address: Remah Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: +971 3 702 0000
Situated at Al Khatim area in Abu Dhabi, the Arabian Nights Village is another perfect desert destination. Unlike bigger resorts, it is limited to just several dwellings based on traditional Bedouin design. There’s a resort pool where you can relax, and exciting activities include dune bashing and sand-boarding!
Address: Arabian Nights Village Road, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: +971 2 207 8989
If you are based in Sharjah, you’d be happy to know that the emirate has several desert retreats, such as Al Badayer Retreat. Its rooms feature a traditional design with modern fittings, and there’s an all-day dining restaurant serving hearty dishes. Awesome!
Address: Al Badayer Retreat, Al Badayer, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
On the east coast of Sharjah lies Kingfisher Retreat, which is the best destination for those longing for some privacy! A private boat will bring you to a private island, with a modern tent that has its own pool. Here, you can just sit back, relax, and marvel at gorgeous views of the Indian ocean.
Address: Corniche Road, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: +971 9 201 1900
Al Faya Retreat is set within the Mleiha region, which has been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’re a history buff, this is the best place to stay when you want to explore pre-Islamic forts, caves, and tombs dating back to the Bronze Age. Exciting, huh?! From here, you can also head to the Mleiha Archaeological Centre for more amazing finds!
Address: Al Batayeh, Al Faya Road, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: +971 6 538 7857
Indeed, while the UAE has dramatically changed over the years, building magnificent architecture, towering skyscrapers, and even venturing into space — the country’s natural beauty and rich legacy still remain. So if you and your friends have never been on a desert adventure before, then it’s about time that you do by checking into the luxury desert resorts mentioned above!
On the other hand, if you are eager to know more about the different places to see and things to do around the country, you can start by reading our post about the 7 Emirates of the UAE!