The hotly anticipated blockbuster Dune is set to be released in December. The action-adventure film, directed by Denis Villeneuve, is a fantasy tale that's set on an bleak planet called Arrakis.
But while the fictional planet is inhospitable, the cast and crew of the film enjoyed an entirely inviting stay when they filmed key scenes in the Abu Dhabi desert, checking in to the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara in the Empty Quarter.
Perfectly located for unlimited access to the rolling dunes of the Liwa desert, the newly renovated luxury resort played host to several crew members and movie stars from the film, including British actor Rebecca Ferguson and Oscar-nominated Timothee Chalamet.
Renowned for its breathtaking isolation in the Empty Quarter, Qasr Al Sarab is located about two and half hours from Abu Dhabi.
It's part of the Rub al Khali, one of the world's largest sand deserts which spans 650,000 square kilometres across the Arabian Peninsula's southern region. The north-eastern corner of this vast expanse is home to the arc-shaped oasis of Liwa, and it's here that the Dune stars found their opulent shelter.
In this section of desert wilderness, the sand dunes tower more than 200 metres tall. The ancient formations are thought to have resulted from eroded sand transported by glaciers that dried up more than 10,000 years ago. Hidden among these dunes, the fortress-like Qasr Al Sarab offers guests five-star hospitality blended with a design and spirit that pays homage to the region’s traditions.
The film's stars were able to discover authentic Arabian pastimes at the resort where archery, falconry and camel trekking are among the many activities available for guests.
Dining options include Suhail, which offers fine-dining and even finer desert views from its rooftop location, and Al Ghadeer, for Mediterranean-inspired dishes with a local twist.
The resort's newly renovated 50-metre swimming pool represents something of an oasis in the desert, and is the perfect place to cool off after a day's shooting in the nearby dunes. Spacious villas also offer their own plunge pools and sunbathing decks if privacy is preferred.
The luxury resort was closed over summer but has reopened with several safety measures in place to protect guests. These include a safety officer stationed at the resort's arrival, thermal scanners, mandatory face masks and hand sanitising stations in all public areas and Go Safe certification from the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi.
Room rates at the resort start from Dh900 per night, with villa rates starting from Dh1,999 including breakfast.