Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 30 November 2020

Glamping in the UAE: Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, Abu Dhabi and Fujairah's best camping spots

From domed tents in Dubai to Hatta’s Airstream trailers, this guide to camping and glamping across the country will help you plan your next staycation

The Kingfisher Lodge in Sharjah. 
The Kingfisher Lodge in Sharjah. 

Al Ain’s new campsite is the latest addition to the UAE’s ever-growing collection of glamping and camping options.

Located at the foothills of Jebel Hafeet, it has camping plots, traditional tents and luxe-glamping pods, meaning there’s something to suit every budget. The Jebel Hafit Desert park campsite joins a growing number of tented-style accommodation open across the emirates.

From Ajman’s beachfront campsite to Abu Dhabi’s upscale canopies, these destinations all have one thing in common: they’re perfect for anyone seeking a nature-focused stay. So whether you want an outdoor staycation on a par with a luxury ­hotel break, a back-to-basics overnight camping trip or anything in between, here’s a guide to the UAE’s camping and glamping destinations.

Sharjah

Kalba Kingfisher Retreat

The Kingfisher Retreat in Khor Kalba on Sharjah’s east coast is technically closer to Fujairah than it is to the city of Sharjah. That means you can still enjoy sandy beaches and Indian Ocean waters. The eco-focused site offers 20 beautifully designed tents, each of which has a pool, and is designed to reflect the country’s ­heritage. The main tent offers a communal space where freshly cooked food is served up daily, and firepits offer pockets to cosy up in under the stars. Sustainability is high on the agenda here – the nearby mangroves are home to a turtle breeding area, and ­ornithologists will enjoy the plethora of birds that nest in the area. The ­mountain-dotted backdrop offers a taste of adventure, with walking and hiking trails, as well as being a great base from which to jump if you want to do a spot of paragliding. Rates from Dh1,100, www.myskhotels.com

Al Badayer Oasis

The luxurious Al Badayer Retreat is set against Sharjah’s sweeping sand dunes and offers 10 tents as part of its glamping set-up. This oasis camp is located about 40 minutes from Dubai International Airport, so it’s easy to reach. Once there, guests can embrace a unique Emirati way of life via traditional food and culturally inspired activities. You can book a dune-bashing session, go quad biking or sand boarding or head out to the desert on horseback. Desert safaris and camel tours are also on offer and those interested in something a little less high-octane can take wildlife tours, see falconry displays and try traditional henna. Plus, the Al Badayer Oasis offers the perfect remote location for stargazing come nightfall. Rates from Dh500, www.myskhotels.com

Maleha Luxury Tents

Maleha Luxury Tented stay in Sharjah, courtesy www.glampinghub.com
Maleha Luxury Tented stay in Sharjah, courtesy www.glampinghub.com

Located in Maleha, this air-conditioned camp offers a desert village with tents that can sleep up to four people. Each comes with its own private bathroom complete with a bathtub, shower and towels. The living area has a sofa and television while outside there’s a shared barbecue area, a herb garden and a swimming pool. Optional extras such as an inflatable movie screen, day passes for the nearby Water Zone and children’s bike rentals can be added. The village is 10 minutes from the Mleiha Archaeological Centre and Mleiha Park, making it a good family-friendly pick for a stay among Sharjah’s dunes. Rates from Dh1,300, www.glampinghub.com

Hatta

Hatta Sedr Trailers

For a more rugged retreat, head out to Hatta. If retro vibes are your thing, the Hatta Sedr Trailers offer accommodation courtesy of Airstream-style campers. Inside, it’s all electric lights, flat-screen televisions and super comfortable beds, not to mention your own bathroom. Outside, there’s a private, rustic terrace where you can unwind. Hatta Wadi Hub is not far away and offers ­mountain biking, downhill carting, axe throwing, rope courses, wall climbing, and even a human sling shot, while the Hatta Drop-in is a water park with slides, doughnuts and jump runs. For something a bit more natural, head into the hills where the hiking is epic, or out on a kayak on the blue waters of Hatta Dam. Rates from Dh716, www.visithatta.com

Damani Lodges

Nestled in a makeshift mountain town, the Damani Lodges are sleekly designed huts that are cosy and simple but very well equipped. You’ll have everything you’d expect from a regular hotel room including housekeeping services, comfy beds, Wi-Fi and modern bathrooms. Standard rooms sleep two adults, standard plus rooms can cater for two adults and a child while the mountain suites sleep a family of four. The highlight of staying here is being able to step out of your room on to your private decking area where you’re surrounded by nature. You need a dune buggy to reach the chalets, drivers are on hand 24 hours a day. You can also order food from any of the on-site options and it will be delivered direct to your door. Rates from Dh666, www.visithatta.com

Hatta campsite and caravan park

If you have your own caravan or tent and are seeking a place to pitch it where you’ll have all the camping facilities you need then try the Hatta campsite. As well as 24-hour security, campers will also be able to use the barbecue areas and firepits, buy snacks at the food trucks and have first-dibs access to all the activities at Wadi Hub. There’s electricity to hook caravans up to and shared washrooms and showers that campers can also use. Rates start from Dh99 (for tents), Dh299 (for caravans) www.visithatta.com

Ras Al Khaimah

Long Beach Campground

Part of the Bin Majid Beach Hotel portfolio, the Long Beach Campground offers an authentic glamping experience. Right on the beach, you get the thrill of sleeping under the stars but without the hassle of having to pitch a tent, source your own food or find a spot close to the ocean where you won’t be washed away after dozing off. Take your pick from a simple fabric-­covered bell tent with king-size beds and outdoor camping chairs, or try the safari suite tent where you will be on an elevated ­wooden platform and have your own bathroom. The top-­billing, panoramic dome suite tents offer hexagon-shaped lodges that come with private hot tubs and towering viewing areas, offering the best vistas. Dining takes place in a tented hall that sparkles with fairy lights come evening time. Alfresco cinema, sunrise yoga, kite flying and kayaking are just some of the outdoor activities on offer at this beachside retreat. Rates start from Dh599, open only on weekends, www.binmajid.com

Al Wadi Desert — The Ritz Carlton

The Ritz-Carlton’s Al Wadi Desert Resort offers a whole new level of glamping. The Al Sahari pool villas resemble Bedouin tents on the outside, but are lavishly furnished on the inside. Don’t be fooled – this is an upscale resort rather than a campsite, but staff can set up campfires for you and you can take a picnic on the dunes. Outdoor pursuits include archery, a falconry show and children’s nature trails and a stay here will get you close to the desert wildlife, including oryx and gazelles, while still basking in luxury. Rates start at Dh1,416, www.ritzcarlton.com

Bedouin Oasis Camp

For a taste of tradition, book a stay at the Bedouin Oasis Camp in Ras Al Khaimah. Located about two kilometres from Bassata Village, this back-to-basics camp offers a choice of two-man tents or small thatched chalets with tented roofs and optional air-conditioning. There’s a communal dining and entertainment area, firepits dotted around the camp and shared bathrooms. Expect camels galore and activities such as dune-bashing and sandboarding, as well as a traditional barbecue dinner, henna painting and Arabic tea and coffee. Rates from Dh374, www.arabianincentive.com

Umm Al Quwain

Dreamland Aqua Park

While it’s perhaps not the ‘escape it all and get back to nature’ stay you might expect from a camping trip, Dreamland Aqua Park in Umm Al Quwain offers camping and cabin options for visitors looking to spend the night. Take your pick from a stay in a simple tent or go for a wooden chalet. All your meals are provided, including a barbecue dinner. With the park closed to outside visitors after dark, you’ll have exclusive access to a designated evening pool and the tennis courts can also be booked for an evening hit about. Public restrooms, showers, changing rooms and lockers are also available for campers. Open from November to April. Rates start at Dh550, www.dreamlanduae.com

Fujairah

The Retreat

If you are looking for a lodge with a minimal ecological footprint, head to The Retreat in Al Bidya, Fujairah. It was built using natural, locally sourced materials and the landscaping consists of indigenous trees and plants. Solar heaters ensure hot showers are available in the camp’s en suite tents, while all waste water is recycled for irrigation. Food served during your stay is organic, with fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs grown on-site and incorporated into daily meals. Each measuring about 28 square metres, the camp’s tents can accommodate two adults in single or king-size beds. There are also four and five-bedroom tents for families. Both children and adults can entertain themselves in dedicated drawing and reading corners, or enjoy more active outdoor endeavours, from kayaking and mountain climbing to yoga classes and guided walks. The camp also runs wellness programmes. Rates start at Dh1,140, www.theretreat.ae

Dubai

Nara Desert Escape

Located in the middle of the Arabian Desert in Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, Nara Desert Escape offers the ultimate glamping getaway, where everything is tailor-made to suit you. A sumptuous desert feast will be served from the on-site chefs before guests turn in to their tents for the evening. There are 10 nomadic tents to choose from and guest can pick from two styles, the Tourag or the larger-sized Lotus tent. Both sleep up to four people and stays include a light breakfast. Unwind with yoga, shiatsu or mediation and take part in nature hikes across the vast desert landscape. Rates upon request, www.nara.ae

Sonara Camp

Sonara is a sharing camp-restaurant concept in the middle of the desert. The main focus here is on the food – guests need to book the full dining experience before they qualify to book an overnight stay. Transfer vehicles will collect campers at the entrance of Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve and take them to the camp where a full set sharing menu, activities and entertainment await. Those opting to sleepover will do so in a nomadic tent which can sleep up to four people. In the morning, a light breakfast is provided before you check out. Rates from Dh1,500, plus per person dining charge of Dh860 per adult, www.nara.ae

Starlight Camp

The Starlight Camp is a pop-up experience that is set up in a desert location about 45 minutes from Dubai. It offers guests the chance to sleep in a dome tent with amazing views of the sky above. The entire campsite is set up for each booking, so you’ll have complete privacy and everything you need for a luxury staycation, including space for your dog. Sleep under a crystal roof, taking in the starlit sky from the comfort of a queen-size bed. There’s a heater to keep things cosy, a Bluetooth speaker and electricity sockets to keep all your devices charged, books, board games and plenty of sleeping space for your pooch. Want to bring the kids? They can bed down in small mattresses next to the main bed or have their very own mini-tent right next door. Rates from Dh2,100, www.starlight-camp.com

Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Resort

If you’re hankering for a nature-focused staycation but are not sure if glamping is quite for you, Al Maha resort in Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve offers the ultimate upscale glamping experience. Book a Bedouin Suite at this five-star resort for a stay in a suite that looks tented, but is fully equipped on the inside. Furnished with authentic Arabian decor and artefacts, you’ll want for nothing at this luxury resort, which has a price tag to match. The suites come with a private temperature-controlled swimming pool and decking area, superking-size beds and huge bathrooms with walk-in showers and massive soaking tubs. Make the most of the stunning Dubai Desert Conservation setting with a nature walk through the dunes or head out on a camel caravan. Archery, horse-riding and wildlife dune drives are also on offer. Rates from Dh4,987, www.al-maha.com

Ajman

Bianky Beach Camp

Located in Ajman’s Al Zorah, the recently opened Bianky Beach Camp offers a choice of glamping or camping options. Go for a basic traditional tent made from palm fronds or opt for a bungalow, a sea view hut or the VIP two-storey majlis. Located right on the beach front, it also has a swimming pool and an on-site restaurant serving barbecue food and traditional Arabic-inspired dishes. There’s also a host of water sports on offer for campers. Rates from Dh250, www.biankybeachcamp.com

Caravana Al Zorah

Not quite glamping, but close enough, Caravana Alzorah offers air-conditioned, fully equipped caravans with seating and dining areas that can sleep up to eight people. Each caravan comes with barbecue facilities, or you can order room service. On the beach, there’s a Jacuzzi, volleyball courts and an outdoor dining area. Shared toilets and showers are also available. Activities on offer include horse riding, kayaking and outdoor movie screenings. Nearby, there’s cycling and fishing, and Ajman Museum is about 18 kilometres from the park. Rates from Dh1,147, www.linktr.ee/Caravana.ae

Abu Dhabi

Arabian Nights Village

Tucked away in the Razeen area of Al Khatim, this secluded spot offers a desert stay that’s surrounded by rolling sand dunes and traditional ghaf trees and comes with amazing Arabian sunsets. There’s a host of accommodation options – from an Arabic sand house to a traditional Bedouin tent. All accommodation includes air conditioning and eco-friendly bathroom essentials, and the resort has an on-site restaurant and landscaped swimming pool. Rates start at Dh1,399, www.glampinghub.com

Anantara Sir Bani Yas

When it’s a full moon out, Sir Baniyas Island is your spot for camping. Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Resorts runs a monthly camping experience designed to help people reconnect with nature. The package includes complimentary water transfers from Jebel Dhanna Jetty to the island and back again, plus all of your camping equipment and gear. As well as having plenty of time to enjoy the camp site and the nature that surrounds it, you’ll also get to tuck into a campsite dinner and a hearty breakfast the next morning. A wildlife drive around the island is also included in your stay. Available monthly to coincide with the full moon, all-inclusive rates from Dh800 per adult, www.anantara.com

Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara

For perfect sand-dune vistas under an inky star-filled sky, Qasr Al Sarab’s new desert Bedouin Night Camping Experience is a must. Get set to sleep in Bedouin-style tents deep among the dunes at Camp Nujum – you’ll reach the location via camel transfer or 4x4 drop-off. Part of the vast Empty Quarter, expect miles and miles of uninhabited sand, as well as very little light pollution, making it a great stargazing spot. This is next-level camping with a welcome majlis area stocked with Arabic coffee and dates, exclusive tented rooms overlooking the dunes and authentic Emirati dining. You can also try your hand at archery, catch a falcon show or head out on a dune bashing drive. Don’t miss the traditional storytelling session before bedtime. Rates from Dh1,600 per person, www.anantara.com

Jebel Hafit Desert Park, Al Ain

Adventurers can book camping and glamping stay at the newly opened campsite at Al Ain's Jebel Hafit Desert Park. Courtesy DCT Abu Dhabi
Adventurers can book camping and glamping stay at the newly opened campsite at Al Ain's Jebel Hafit Desert Park. Courtesy DCT Abu Dhabi

The newly opened glamping and camping site in Al Ain’s Jebel Hafit Desert Park is set in the nine-kilometre park that surrounds the base of Al Ain’s tallest mountain. It has four levels of accommodation, meaning there’s something for every kind of visitor. Dedicated adventurers can book a plot at the site where they can pitch their own tents. Campers seeking a taste of Emirati culture can opt for a serviced stay in a Bedouin-style tent, while glampers can opt for the air-conditioned bubble or dome tents that come fully equipped and with amazing views of Jebel Hafeet. The campsite is open from October to May. Rates start from Dh100, jebelhafitdesertpark.backhotelite.com/en/

Personalised pop-up sites

Glamp-Inn

If you want to set up a remote glamping spot somewhere in the UAE, Glamp-Inn can make that happen for you. They will set you up in a pop-up dome tent that comes with an adjacent bathroom and plenty of optional extras. Add-ons include firepits, a tepee tent, movie projector and dining area. It has a host of site options in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. Rates from Dh1,500 per night, www.glamp-inn.ae

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Updated: February 10, 2020 10:48 AM

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