Is it even Dubai if you haven’t been to the desert?

Outside of Dubai’s towering skyscrapers, lush beaches and bustling city life lies swathes of golden desert as far as the eye can see. Visiting the desert is one of the coolest bucket list activities in the UAE (and it’s great for the ‘Gram). We’ve picked five unmissable desert experiences that you need to tick off your list.

Relax at a desert cafe


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A post shared by HIDDEN (@hidden_dubai)

Socially distanced and super Instagrammable, desert pop-ups have been filling our social feeds all winter. Already found in Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman, the newest addition can be found right here in Dubai. Aptly named Hidden, this off-the-grid desert pop-up cafe oozes boho-vibes, with rope deck chairs in crisp white surrounding cosy campfires, earthy woven bean bags and rattan sofas covered in plush cushions. The whole area is surrounded by palm trees, offering dappled shade to curl up with a coffee as the sun sets. Hidden Cafe currently advertises that it’s in soft opening, and during this initial phase welcomes guests for evenings under the stars from 4pm to 12am on weekdays and 4pm until 2am on weekends.


Stay overnight at a desert resort

al maha desert resort

An hour out of Dubai you’ll find Al Maha Desert Resort. This stunning desert oasis is home to individual villas complete with private pools, a main resort area where you’ll find all-day dining restaurant Al Diwaan, and a relaxing spa featuring single and couple treatment rooms. Guests can while away the day at their private pool, or head to the picturesque outdoor pool overlooking the sprawling desert dunes. Check in for a luxury staycation here, and don’t be surprised to greet your neighbours – Arabian Oryx and gazelles – as you enjoy breakfast on your alfresco terrace.

Al Maha Desert Resort, Al Ain Road, Dubai. Tel: (04) 832 9900.

Charge around the desert in a dune buggy

If you’re one of those people who find it hard to sit still, why not book a day in the desert? Not just any old day in the desert, satisfy your need for speed with an adrenaline-filled adventure on dune buggies. Created by the team at Explorer Tours, the feisty motor is so much more than a dune buggy, with a two litre engine and 160 horsepower – this buggy means business. See what What’s On thought of the experience here.

Explorer Tours, Fossil Rock, Sharjah, from Dhs1500. Tel: (04) 564 9959.

Go to a stunning desert camp


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With two locations to choose from, Sonara Camp offers a luxury experience in both Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah desert. With a fine-dining set menu and world-class entertainment, this bucket list experience includes a range of activities from camel riding to falconry, live music, fire show and much more. The sunset experience starts at Dhs460 for adults and Dhs160 for children, or with dinner its Dhs860 for adults and Dhs380 for children. For Dubai Desert Conservation Area take E66 the whole way (45 mins) and for The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert stay on E311 (60 mins).

Sonara Camp Dubai, Dubai Desert Conservation or Sonara Camp Al Wadi, The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert, daily from 4pm.

Rise up in a hot air balloon

What better way is there to see the desert than from a basket 1,220m in the air? Book with Balloon Adventures Dubai and experience the world’s only hot air balloon that flies with a falcon, that’s released to circle the balloon as the sun rises. After you land, enjoy breakfast in the dunes and ride in a 1950s Land Rover to a Bedouin camp.

Images: Social/provided