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In a city with the tallest towers, biggest malls, and man-made islands, a quick escape to nature and all its glory is just an hour’s ride away from the center. The UAE‘s cities are situated along the coast. Trips to the beach with a view of the city skyline are an everyday sight, so for a quiet trip out of town, locals head east into the desert and mountains.
Camping in the UAE desert is not the ideal year-round trip to make. The extreme weather conditions hit the desert as much as they do the city in the summer months – think hot, humid days and nights. The best time to go for a camping trip is from October to March, UAE’s winter when temperatures drop down to 20 degrees Celsius during the day. It might sound silly, but trust us, it makes for great camping weather! However, you will have to make sure you layer up, as desert conditions vary from great European summer days with no humidity to a possible drop in temperature down to ten degrees Celsius at night!
The best way to experience a camping trip is to avoid the crowds, and luckily, the UAE desert covers the majority of the country, so there’s plenty of space for everyone. The Liwa and Qassab deserts are closest to the city, just an hour’s drive from Dubai‘s city center, and open to camping and off-road driving, while the Hatta and Jabal Jais mountains are favorites when looking for higher altitude escapes and when you’ve got more time to spare.
Like any other camping trip, planning ahead goes a long way. The most important part of getting around on the UAE off-road trail is making sure to head out with a fully functioning 4×4. It will be more useful than you know, as many roads in those areas are not built for a regular car, and it is the only way to get the best out of the desert dune bashing.
When camping in small and quiet groups, chances are you may run into desert wildlife. Camels and gazelles are a very common sight, while Arabian leopards and lizards are often rare when camping closer to the city – although a campfire will keep any of them away. Laws in the UAE apply in the desert, and respecting nature and wildlife is always a must. It goes without saying that littering is forbidden, while hunting is publishable by law, so everyone’s encouraged to keep nature clean.
Once you’ve got your spot, a group of travelers and the 4×4 packed, don’t forget to grab your camera gear and tripod for some amazing night photography of the clear starry sky that’s best seen during the winter months. It will give you a different view of the environment hiding behind the city skyline and a chance to experience nature in the UAE!