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Top Things to Do in the Dubai Desert

Home > Dubai > Day Trips | Escape the City | Family | Tours | Travel | Lists
by Lionel (subscribe)
Join me as I travel, play, eat, live and work in cities and places around the world.
Published May 26th 2014
With only one day to go in the city of opportunity, I was weighing my options as I flipped the morning papers. Dubai came in 16 out of the 30 cities in PwC's Cities of Opportunity report 2014 and was the only Middle Eastern city ranked first globally for its airport connections to the world's cities. For now, I'm more concerned about my opportunity to take in the attractions of Dubai like the theme parks, beach clubs and man-made structures. With no friends awake to ask, I decided to poll the breakfast audience. The desert safari tour received the most votes hands down. A phone call later, my trip was arranged.


The landscape evolved as the toyota land cruiser sped through the urban sprawl. The concrete of the city gave way to a wide expanse of sand on both side of the tarmac. The summer sun drew thin vapours upwards into a misty film over the desert dunes.


1. Bash the Dunes

Now the real fun starts.


The land cruiser surfed the rise of sand only to tilt dangerously to the side. Then a heart-stopping drop later, it continued to cruise forward. The rolling, rocking motion of a ship in stormy waters eased to a halt upon a summit which offered a panoramic view of the sand below.


I'm glad to report that my licensed driver meandered the dunes with skill. [Note to self - consume non-drowsy motion sickness pill before attempting any dune bashing].


2. Visit a Bedouin-style campsite

I left the vicissitudes of the sand dunes and sped towards the Majlis where guests are received and entertained. This Arabic Bedouin-style campsite would herald the next stage of my desert safari adventure.


3. Go on a Camel Ride

Although the complimentary camel ride was brief, it is worth getting up and doing a round. The camel was surprisingly bereft of any smell and very accommodating.


4. Grab a photo with the Falcon

For a token of AED10, you could take a photograph with a falcon perched on your arm and upon your palm, without and with the falconer. Sadly, there were no flying demonstrations.


5. Climb the Dunes

The biggest attraction for me however, was to climb the dune and enjoy the views all around.


6. Take a puff of the Shisha

Inside the campsite, there were complimentary tea, coffee and water to keep guests hydrated. There was a sampling of flavored Shisha and you could pay extra for your own thereafter.


7. Get dressed like an Emirati

A shop organized photo shoots in the traditional Emirati clothing such as the abaya and hajab for women and dishdasha with kaffiyeh and agal for the men. This was a convenient way to get dressed up like the locals and create some interesting photographs of your visit.

8. Join the Tanura Dance

While the guests relaxed with their meal and Shishas, the night came alive with a hypnotic Tanura dance. The male dancer whirled his long colourful skirts similar to the dervishes in Turkey. Join the Tanura dance by twirling a skirt and try not to get too dizzy.


9. Get that Belly moving

The night's entertainment continued with a mesmerizing belly dance to the delight of everyone. Here;s your chance to join in the fun and sway those hips alongside that of the belly dance. Maybe a belly face-off to see who can sway them the longest.


Chatting with the repeat safari guests around me, I learned that most operators offer relatively the same tour at differing prices. The main difference was the quality of the driver and campsite. With a full day of Arabian adventure, cultural entertainment and dining under the stars, I can understand why a trip into the desert is so popular. Regardless of the tour company you choose, your Dubai vacation will not be complete without a desert safari tour.
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Where: Desert outside Dubai
Cost: AED150 to AED250
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