It’s easy to forget about the world outside the skyscrapers and shopping malls of Dubai’s city centre. But drive past the city limits, and you’ll almost immediately be surrounded by the landscape that colours in the rest of this emirate – the sandy Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.
Out here, 10-house towns and nomadic Bedouin camps hide out among great rolls of copper and gold sand dunes. But they’re not alone – the Dubai Desert has found itself hosting a growing collection of high luxury hotels. The Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa is one of them, balancing Bedouin-inspired architecture with antique Arabian furniture and fixings.
These luxury lodgings also supply a full line-up desert activities – from traditional pursuits like falconry and horse riding, right through to dune drives in high-speed off-roaders.
The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve protects much of the desert outside Dubai city, so you’ll also spy gaggles of antelope-like Arabian oryxes cooling off among the palm groves.
Flight time from the UK to Dubai is approximately 6 hours 30 minutes.
Transfer time from Dubai airport to our Dubai Desert hotel is approximately 55 minutes.
Summers in Dubai are seriously hot – 40°C kind of hot. Although all buildings are air conditioned, outdoor activities can be uncomfortable in this kind of heat, and some may even be closed. November to April is the best time to visit Dubai; rain is scarce, and temperatures stay at a comfortable mid-20s average.
British citizens will be granted a free 30-day visa upon arrival in Dubai.
In most tourist destinations in the Emirates (such as Dubai and Ras al Khaimah), it’s customary to leave a 10% cash tip in restaurants. Small tips are appreciated for other services; aim for five to 20 UAE dirhams for porters bringing your bags to your room and for taxi drivers.
The official language of Dubai is Arabic. English is widely spoken too, so getting by is easy.