First look: Dubai’s Bab Al Shams reopens as world’s first Rare Finds hotel

The desert retreat has been renovated throughout by new owners Kerzner International

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Dubai’s longest-running desert resort has reopened with a new lease of life.

Bab Al Shams is the world’s first Rare Finds Hotels and Resorts, Kerzner International's newest collection of properties.

Scroll through the gallery above for a first look inside the renovated resort

On Friday, almost 20 years after first launching, the resort will once again welcome guests following an extensive 10-month refurbishment.

Embracing its setting among the dunes and its name that means "gateway to the sun", the resort’s new design is inspired by the earthy tones of the desert as they change throughout the day.

With 115 guest rooms and suites housed across two 16-storey buildings, accommodation features a neutral colour palette complemented with brushed gold accents, exposed wooden beams and subtle Moorish nods. Many abodes have private balconies or tropical gardens.

"The reimagined Bab Al Shams is a legacy project that we are proud and passionate to present,” says Gilles Soheir, general manager of Bab Al Shams.

“The team and I are thrilled to bring forward the essence and stories of this sanctuary to bring an authentic Bedouin experience alight.”

Dubai's Bab Al Shams desert resort has reopened as the first Rare Finds Hotels and Resorts by Kerzner International. Antonie Robertson / The National

At the heart of Bab Al Shams is the resort's oasis-like infinity pool, which has been wholly upgraded with private cabanas, a swim-up bar and a tree-lined border.

Guests can find solace and respite from the mid-day sun at The Desert Spa, which offers treatments and therapies.

The family-friendly Bab Al Shams caters for children of all ages offering a dedicated "experience lounge" and a children's club with an adventure playground, zip line, board games, movies and more.

Zala is one of several new restaurants at Bab Al Shams. Antonie Robertson / The National

When it comes to dining, there are a variety of options on offer including Al Hadheerah, the resort’s original Middle Eastern restaurant, which has been reimagined. On the menu, there's regional cuisine including mezze, kebabs, flame-grilled seafood and ouzi cooked in traditional style in the desert.

Live cooking stations, belly dancers, musicians, folk dancers, falconers and a colourful caravan of camel are also on hand.

At the new all-day dining restaurant Zala, dishes are inspired by Ottoman and Greek cuisine while Ya Hala is a hideaway cigar and speakeasy-style lounge. The best sunset views are found at Anva Sunset Lounge, with its far-reaching vistas over the desert and beyond.

Desert adventures and Bab Al Shams's opening offer

The reimagined Bab Al Shams is a legacy project, says general manager Gilles Soheir. Photo: Bab Al Shams

During each stay, guests are invited to discover the "Arabian histories written in the grains of the Emirati desert via a host of experiences". These include camel trekking, falconry, archery, off-road drives and nature tours to the nearby Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve.

A sunrise hot air balloon experience with views of the desert is also available, while adventure fans can try their hands at fat biking through the dunes.

To celebrate its reopening, Bab Al Shams is offering an overnight package called Mystique of Arabia.

Inclusive of a Mediterranean-style breakfast and complimentary poolside cocktails, stays include a guided nature walk among the dunes and a camel ride. Visitors can also discover the ancient sports of falconry and archery.

Rates for the Mystique of Arabia stay start from Dh1,300 per night;

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Updated: February 10, 2023, 3:52 AM