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desert in Dubai

Off-Roading in the Arabian Desert (VIDEO)

Off-Roading in the Arabian Desert (VIDEO)

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Dubai might just be the most fascinating city on Earth – definitely the most shiny and new, but just outside of the glitz and the glamour is one of the most vast and desolate deserts in the world, and it should not be missed if you are in the UAE, even for a couple days. When we found ourselves in Dubai earlier in the year we just couldn’t miss the chance to go off-roading in the arabian desert with Arabian Adventures, the top rated adventure tour company in the region.

It is easy to get lost in the vast malls of Dubai, the water parks on The Palm, the endless amazing restaurants, rooftop bars and even an indoor ski slope, but Dubai is unique in the fact the just a few miles outside of the city is almost absolutely nothing – endless desert sand dunes as far as the eye can see. There are a number of desert adventure tour companies, but Arabian Adventures is easily the most popular so we decided to go with them, and we were not disappointed one bit.

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Not entirely sure what to expect, we were picked up at our hotel (read our review of the Grand Hyatt Dubai) and driven about 45 minutes outside of Dubai to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, a vast protected area which only Arabian Adventures is allowed to enter. After deflating our tire pressure we drove into the sand to our first stop, a palm tree filled area where we were treated to a falcon show. While short and quick, it is truly amazing to see these amazing birds flying through the sand dunes so fast. It is easy to get distracted by the beautiful dunes and I have to admit we spent most of the time there shooting pictures of the scenery – but thats what you get when you put two photographers in the middle of the desert!

After the falcon show we strapped ourselves in for the off-roading portion of our adventure and man was it crazy! There were about 25 other SUV’s in our caravan, carefully spaced out as we ventured off across the dunes. The 4×4’s have extra installed roll bars, so hold on tight and enjoy the ride, its pretty exciting. I have to admit, like you’ll see in the video, that I got a bit “sea sick” trying to shoot video and hold on the whole time, but it was of course well worth it.

The drivers timed our adventure perfectly to get to the top of the dunes a few minutes before the sun set, an absolutely amazing scene which looks like something out of Star Wars more than less than an hour from a mega city.

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Off-Roading in the Arabian Desert (VIDEO)

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Standing on top of these sand dunes with nothing but desert in every direction is a truly breathtaking site, even with all of the other tourists and cars in the caravan. I was a bit worried before we took off that going with so many other people into the desert would cheapen the experience but it really didn’t, which was a surprise.

After the sun set the temperature dropped a bit, and while still very hot it was pleasant enough to sit outside and enjoy our night. Arabian Adventures has built an amazing little camp/village in the middle of nowhere, and while built specifically for their tours, it still holds a semi authentic feeling to it where they offer camel rides, henna, shisha, a huge buffet dinner, belly dancing show and stargazing – all included in the price of the tour. (even beer and wine!)

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Off-Roading in the Arabian Desert (VIDEO)

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Marina and I enjoyed wandering around the camp, eating amazing Middle Eastern food, smoking some shisha, Marina got henna and we really enjoyed the belly dancing performance. While not native to Dubai whatsoever, the dancing was a nice touch and entertaining – she really knew how to dance.

One of our favorite parts of the entire day was when they turned off all the lights in the entire camp, leaving us in utter darkness, the stars as bright as I had ever seen them – just cross your fingers it isn’t a full moon or you won’t get the full effect. Once the dining and dancing concludes you are free to enjoy a last drink and make your way back to your driver and SUV where you will be again dropped off back at your hotel, around 10pm.

An amazing day all in all I would do it again in a heartbeat (and actually did it again with a friend last week!). Arabian Adventures has done an excellent job of providing a very easy to plan tour into the desert which incorporates many different elements which would simply be hard to find all in one place on your own – especially on a tight timeline. For a total cost of around $100 per person – it is a very well done tour and an excellent value for the money. So strap on your seatbelt and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!

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Off-Roading in the Arabian Desert (VIDEO)

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast! 

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