Just a stone’s throw from Dubai you can discover stunning landscapes, vast deserts of sand and rock, rugged mountains and ancient oases just waiting to be explored. If you are an adventure lover too, then don’t miss these amazing spots for your unforgettable camping in Dubai!
What you will find in this guide:
- Is camping allowed in Dubai (and UAE)?
- Desert Overnight Camping in Dubai
- Luxury Desert Camping
- Free Camping in Dubai and Surroundings
Is camping allowed in Dubai (and UAE)?
Yes, free camping is allowed in Dubai, but there are some rules to respect.
There are several camping options in the UAE, whether in the desert, in the mountains or on the beach. There are excellent campsites, some so nice that they seem straight out of a movie or a novel, able to satisfy any desire and any budget.
Then there is the possibility of free camping in the most remote areas of the country, such as at the foot of the Hajar mountains or in the middle of the desert. In this case, camping is allowed for short periods (for example, if you just want to stay one night), while if you want to camp for longer periods you need a government authorization (and to pay some taxes and deposits).
For free camping in the UAE it is required to respect safety rules: do not camp near rivers or cliffs, avoid muddy terrain (they may be infested with scorpions).
Desert Overnight Camping in Dubai
One of the most beautiful experiences to do in Dubai is undoubtedly to stay overnight in one of the Bedouin-style camps in the desert.
It is possible to do it by participating in a desert safari, here you will find all the info about it.
This is the most popular choice among tourists in Dubai. Includes pickup from your hotel and transportation by modern 4WD car. Once you arrive in the desert you will be able to experience the exciting experience of dune bashing, and enjoy various fun activities (such as sandboarding and a short camel ride).
You will enjoy the sunset over the desert from a Bedouin-style camp, where you will attend performances of traditional dance and music and enjoy a good and hearty buffet dinner (mainly grilled meat and vegetables).
You will spend the night in a Bedouin tent, under the incredibly starry sky of the desert. In the morning you will go on a camel trek to watch the sun rise over the desert, and enjoy a hearty breakfast before returning to Dubai.
If you prefer a truly memorable experience, then you should check out this overnight camping tour. You will depart from Dubai in an authentic 1950s Land Rover, the legendary car used by the first British explorers, and visit the breathtaking Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, a corner of the desert away from mass tourism, where you can spot many wild animals.
I prefer this tour because it is more authentic and sustainable: if you don’t love stuff like dune bashing and want to enjoy a more peaceful and relaxing experience then this is for you.
You will be able to enjoy the sunset over the desert and watch the traditional falconry show, and then enjoy a delicious and hearty dinner under the starry sky, in a private royal desert retreat, enlivened by traditional music and dances.
You will stay overnight in an ancient stone house, then in the morning you can enjoy a hearty breakfast and then return to Dubai.
Luxury Desert Camping
If you want to enjoy an unforgettable stay in a breathtaking setting, without sacrificing comfort and relaxation, then you should take a look at these incredible luxury camping.
Al Maha is a desert resort, less than an hour’s drive from Dubai. To reach it you have to cross the desert with a 4WD car for about 8 km.
Its 42 large Bedouin-style tents are real luxury suites, with all comforts, including free wifi, private bathroom with tub and shower, and a wonderful patio with private pool and breathtaking views of the desert dunes. .
Al Maha also boasts an excellent restaurant and a wellness center, where you can relax with a professional massage, or with a soak in the whirlpool.
To reach Al Maha it is necessary to rent a 4WD car, the last stretch of road (the one in the desert) is on a stone and sand track, but it is quite easy to drive.
Mysk Al Badayer Retreat is a beautiful desert resort located about 40 minutes drive from Dubai, which offers accommodation in tents that are actually real suites equipped with every comfort, private bathroom and patio with private pool overlooking the desert .
It is very easy to reach by car (no 4WD required), as it is located along road no. 44 which goes from Dubai to Hatta.
The Mysk Al Badayer Retreat, which takes its name from the huge sand dune located nearby, also boasts a good restaurant and an excellent spa.
The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah is located about 1 hour drive from Dubai, in a scenic location in the Al Wadi Desert, in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, although it is actually quite close to Umm Al Quwain.
Guests can enjoy accommodation in cute tent-shaped villas that are luxurious and equipped with every amenity, including private swimming pool and spacious ensuite bathroom.
The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah boasts an award-winning spa, offering professional treatments, massages, hydrotherapy, as well as a well-equipped gym.
Guests can enjoy 2 excellent restaurants and 1 lounge bar, serving typical local specialties and international cuisine. You can dine under the starry sky or on the terrace of a romantic ancient watchtower.
The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah has a private falconry you can visit, and it’s a great place for horseback riding and nature hikes.
It is one of the few luxury desert resorts to be family-friendly, here kids will have lots of fun, animals to spot and a daily program of fun activities to do.
Although this is not a campsite, I wanted to include it because in my opinion it is one of the most beautiful desert resorts in the UAE.
Anantara Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort is located in Liwa Oasis, a quiet and remote oasis in the middle of the desert, approximately 3.5 hours drive from Dubai and 2 hours drive from Abu Dhabi.
It resembles a huge, fascinating, desert fortress, and offers spacious and comfortable rooms, suites and villas, equipped with every amenity, and with a breathtaking view of the huge desert dunes.
The Anantara Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort has a wonderful spa, outdoor pools surrounded by palm trees, and an excellent restaurant serving Arabic and international cuisine.
The Anantara Qasr at the Sarab Desert Resort is family-friendly and has a large number of activities dedicated to kids. The best way to reach it is to rent a car (preferably 4WD). The resort is easily accessible, the road is in good condition.
A nice experience to do when in UAE could be staying in a glamping site: a trendy way of camping, which combines adventure and comfort. And then it could be pretty nice for some instagrammable shots!
Hatta is one of the most beautiful places to explore in the UAE: here is an incredible freshwater lake nestled between high rugged mountains, and this is the largest drinking water reservoir in the country.
This makes Hatta a great place for hiking, long walks, horseback riding. And it’s a great place for photography lovers.
If you feel like a true adventurer and love retro vibes, then you have to check out Hatta Sedr Trailers, a really nice glamping nestled in the mountains, offering accommodations in comfortable and Airstream-style caravans.
Inside, the caravans have all the comforts, a nice private bathroom and a super comfortable bed. Outside you have a nice patio where you can sit in the evening and have a good time.
At Hatta Sedr Trailers you can also easily rent mountain bikes or canoes for a ride on the lake.
The Hatta Damani Lodges Resort is also located in the wonderful setting of Hatta, and offers cozy and cute bungalows with an amazing view over the valley.
These accommodations have everything you need, they are clean, spacious and very comfortable. This is a really good place to stay on a road trip to Hatta with the family: there is ample free parking, an American-style restaurant and tons of fun things to do.
Mysk Kingfisher Retreat is located on a wild beach on the East Coast of the UAE, not far from Fujairah.
It offers beautiful accommodations in luxurious tents, with all comforts, including a private pool, bathroom with tub, and a comfortable bed with an ocean view.
Mysk Kingfisher Retreat is located in the heart of a nature reserve which is very popular with bird watchers. A few steps away is a mangrove forest where the turtles go to breed. It is a real paradise for nature lovers and hikers. And then this is a fairly authentic area and not very crowded with tourists.
The Mysk Kingfisher Retreat’s restaurant offers good dishes prepared with fresh local produce.
Starlight Camp is not just a glamping, but it is an incredible experience: for each booking they set up a campsite in the middle of the desert, each in a different place, so it will be just you, your loved ones and the desert.
The tent in which you will stay will be like a transparent sphere, from which you can admire the starry sky and the incredible landscape around. Outside you will have everything you need to spend an unforgettable and romantic evening, perhaps a barbecue dinner, around a nice bonfire.
You’ll have everything you need at your disposal, including a private bathroom, drinks, tea and Nespresso coffee machine, and even a telescope for star gazing.
The location of the Starlight Camp can be reached by car in about 1 hour from Dubai. The campsite is family friendly and pet friendly. It is necessary to book well in advance.
The Longbeach Campground is located on the beach just outside the city of Ras Al Khaimah and offers the most classic of glamping experiences.
The tents are located right on the beach, and have just the essentials for your stay. For families there are larger tents, equipped with all comforts, including a private bathroom.
Longbeach Campground also has a restaurant, swimming pool, kids’ club, and small spa with gym. It is a good choice for those who love the sea, the location is right on a beautiful white sand beach!
Located next to the Ritz Carlton Al Wadi in Ras Al Khaimah, this glamping site offers nice accommodations, in cozy and simple tents, some with private bathrooms.
There are also slightly cheaper solutions for those who want to sleep in simple camping tents. However, Dunes Camping & Safari boasts a good restaurant, a bar and many activities to do, such as excursions, folklore evenings, dance shows and so on.
Free Camping in Dubai and Surroundings
Whether you prefer to camp on a beach, in the desert or in the mountains, in the UAE you will find plenty of wilderness to satisfy your camping urge.
Essentially you will need just a couple of things:
- A good car (preferably 4WD): here you will find everything you need to know about the best and cheapest car rentals in Dubai.
I highly recommend you to rent a good 4WD car, because you will hardly find a good place to camp along a paved road. And because most of the most interesting places to reach require you to drive on gravel or sand roads (and with a normal car it’s pretty easy to get into trouble).
- Camping equipment (tent, camping stove…): you should easily find what you need in one of the Decathlon stores in Dubai. There are two of them, one in City Center Mirdif and one in Ibn Battuta Mall.
Carry several liters of drinking water with you (more than you think you need!). Hydration in the desert is essential. In supermarkets you will find cheap 5-liter bottles, take a lot!
Bring excellent sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat and some clothes that can protect you from the scorching sun. A mosquito and bug spray might come in handy.
It is best to be experienced enough to drive, especially if you like to venture into the desert or remote areas. An excellent GPS is needed, and it would be much better to travel in a convoy with some friends. If you do not feel confident, it is better to contact specialized operators, who provide expert guides and logistic organization.
Keep in mind that it’s very important to have good travel insurance that protects you in case of trouble or accidents. Here you will find everything you need to know about it.
Best spots for camping in the UAE:
Al Qudra Lakes Dubai
Al Qudra Lakes are located just outside Dubai and are a series of small lakes, famous for their wildlife and for the many birds that can be observed here.
This place is perfect for long walks, hikes and bike rides: there is a circular bike path that runs along the lakes for a total length of about 86 km.
Around the Al Qudra Lakes is full of great places to freely camp. Also nearby are the famous Love Lakes, heart-shaped ponds, which are a great place to take some nice pictures.
Liwa Oasis is one of the most remote places in the UAE and is undoubtedly the best place for overnight camping in the desert. It is not too difficult to reach (although a good 4WD car is required from here to reach the best spots) and the journey to get there goes through a breathtaking desert landscape.
Liwa Oasis is usually uncrowded, far from mass tourism, immersed in an endless scenery of high red sand dunes. Perfect for those who want to enjoy an unforgettable and wild camping.
The Lahbab Desert is one of the most famous spots for desert camping: it is easily reached from Dubai in about 1 hour by car, and is full of places to camp.
The best spots are around Al Badayer, a huge red sand dune, or near the ancient buried village of Al Madam (find out more about it in this post on the emirate of Sharjah).
Another very famous point is near the so-called Fossil Rock, or even better near the Camel Rock (located nearby), behind the Mleiha Archaeological Center.
Other Useful Tips for your Trip
The UAE is a perfect country for a nice road trip! Here you will find all the information you need to organize your unforgettable road trip!
If you want to experience desert overnight camping then you need a car, whether you want to camp freely or stay in a resort or glamping site. Here you will find important tips on the most reliable and cheap car rentals in Dubai.
While if you want to discover the best things to do and see in Dubai, here is a free guide with the best tips from the locals.
Don’t forget to pack good travel insurance! Here you can find out why it is so important to have it.