There are lots of things to do and see in Dubai and many expats find themselves spending most of their weekends in the city. However, only a short drive away, you can spend time in the great outdoors or stay at hotels which will offer you the chance to relax and unwind.
The winter weather in Dubai is ideal for camping and it is no surprise that this is a popular way for people to spend their weekends. Children especially enjoy the freedom of being able to run around the desert, eat around a camp fire, and sleep under canvas.
Good camping spots can be found in the desert or in the mountains alongside wadis or streams. Most sites can be accessed by 4x4 vehicles. However, unless you have experience driving in the desert, it is best not to stray too far from the tarmac roads. If you do go into the desert, go with two vehicles so you can pull each other out of the sand if you get stuck. Also make sure you take plenty of water with you. It is also important to be careful near wadis as flash floods are common. Even in the seemingly driest weather, it may be raining up in the mountains. People can and do get caught.
If you want advice on the best sites, ask other expats for recommendations. Alternatively, buy an off-road guide book such as The Off-Road Explorer which has a great list of camping sites.
If you want to spend time in the desert but cannot face the thought of camping, Bab Al Shams is a great alternative. It is a five-star oasis of luxury and tranquility located in the middle of the desert, about 40 km outside the city. It is designed to look like a traditional fort and the luxurious rooms have a traditional, authentic feel. There are many sports and leisure activities as well as a popular spa. If your budget won’t run to a weekend at this exclusive hotel, day packages are available. An experience not to be missed is a meal at the Al Hadheerah restaurant. It offers an extensive Arabic buffet in the outdoor air. There is live entertainment from b…