The Best Beginner Advice about Deserts in the UAE

Blog written on 19-08-2022

The UAE is home to some vast and magnificent deserts, particularly in Abu Dhabi. At first, you may be wondering what there is to do in the desert. After all, it’s hours away from civilization–and that’s the fun part! The desert is a literal giant sandbox for all kinds of activities, like camping, dune bashing, quad biking, and more! If you’re going to have the most fun in the deserts in Abu Dhabi and the rest of the emirates, you’re in the right place.

What are the most famous deserts in the UAE?

The UAE is home to some beautiful deserts. Here are three of the most famous deserts in the Emirates and why you should visit them!

The Arabian Desert

Also known as the Empty Quarter or Rub Al Khali, The Arabian Desert is one of the largest deserts in the world, with a massive surface area of 1,855,470 square kilometers! While parts of it can be found in Abu Dhabi, it actually spans eight other countries.

You might think that being mostly sand dunes, the Arabian Desert may not have any wildlife to admire. However, it’s home to a variety of animals, such as camels, ibexes, lizards, and geckos. Being home to a wide variety of wildlife, the Arabian Desert is an excellent place for tourists to go on a safari in Abu Dhabi.

Al Badayer Desert

Located in Sharjah, the Al Badayer Desert is home to many famous desert spots for thrill-seeking tourists. The area is home to many sand dunes just waiting for dune-bashers and bikers to conquer, including the largest sand dune in Sharjah, Big Red.

For travelers looking to relax and admire the natural beauty of the desert, Al Badayer is also a great spot for camping, as at night, you get a beautiful view of the desert stars. It’s also not too far from civilization, home to popular tourist attractions such as the Al Badayer Oasis.

Al Qudra Desert

The Qudra desert is one of the best spots for a desert safari in Dubai. It’s also conveniently a stone’s throw away from the city. Read my article about the Al Qudra Desert Lakes.

These man-made lakes make this desert spot full of life, making it a sanctuary for all kinds of birds and fish. Thus, the Qudra Desert is popular with campers, hikers, wildlife enthusiasts, and photographers. If you’re looking for the best Dubai safari spot, the Qudra Desert is the place to be!

The Best Beginner Advice about Deserts in the UAE

What can you do in the deserts in the UAE?

The deserts in Abu Dhabi and the rest of the UAE are full of opportunity. Here are some activities you can try in the UAE deserts:

Dune Bashing

Are you an adrenaline junkie who lives for the thrill or just looking to try something new? You can’t go to the deserts in the UAE and not try dune bashing! It’s the act of driving fast up and down sand dunes, using specialized vehicles like quad bikes and dune buggies, or your own 4x4 vehicle. Once you try it, you’ll never think the desert is boring.

The Best Beginner Advice about Deserts in the UAE


Camping in the desert can be loads of fun, too! Setting up a tent, having a barbecue with friends, and admiring the spectacular night sky are fun things you can try on a desert camping trip. 

Want to learn more about desert camping? Check out my beginner’s guide to overnight camping in the UAE!

Landscape Photography

The vast, empty sand plains and dunes in the deserts in the UAE are breathtaking and the perfect subject (or backdrop) for a few Instagram-able travel photos. The desert sun, while quite hot, also provides some great natural lighting.

Looking to improve your travel-photo game? Grab your camera and check out my guide to taking breathtaking travel photos in the UAE!

What to wear to the Deserts in the UAE

The Empty Quarter in Abu Dhabi and the other deserts in Dubai are accessible and open to travelers. However, if you’re dressed appropriately for them, you will not have a fun time on your desert safari. Here’s what you should wear to the deserts in the UAE:

The Best Beginner Advice about Deserts in the UAE

Light clothing

As you can imagine, it can get quite hot in the desert. Wearing light, breathable clothes is the best way to keep yourself feeling fresh.

However, it’s worth noting that the deserts aren’t always so hot. At night, the desert can actually get quite cold. If you’re planning to spend a night in the desert, it’s worth bringing an insulated jacket, socks, sleeping bag, or other ways to keep warm.

Lightweight shoes

Most footwear you’ll sport in the desert will become filled with sand unless they’re sealed shut. It’s better to wear shoes that are made from breathable fabrics instead.


Considering the desert sun and the fact that you’ll likely have no shade while there, you want to slather yourself with sunscreen. This will protect your skin from the sun’s harsh light and prevent you from getting sunburnt.

What to bring to the deserts in the UAE?

You don’t want to be underprepared when exploring the UAE’s vast deserts. Here’s what you should bring whether you’re on a camping trip in Al Badayer or on a desert safari in Dubai:

Extra food and water

Whatever food and water you think you’ll need, it doesn’t hurt to pack a bit extra. It’s better to have too many snacks and bottles of water in the middle of the desert than not having enough and being hours away from civilization.

First Aid Kit

Anything can happen while you’re out in the desert, so it helps to be prepared. A first aid kit with some bandages, antiseptic, and even a few painkillers (in case of a heat-induced headache) will help should the situation require them.

You should also consider packing a mirror and a whistle. It’s hard to miss the booming sound of a whistle or the reflection of the sun’s light in case you ever get lost.

The Best Beginner Advice about Deserts in the UAE


The deserts of the UAE are giant sandboxes full of opportunity–so why not bring some friends? Dune bashing, camping, and trekking are fun with familiar and friendly faces. 

Don’t have any friends available to check out the UAE’s beautiful deserts? Sign up for one of our adventures and meet some other travelers! Be sure to check out our blog and Instagram for more updates.

Ashleigh (Tingu Travel Founder)

I’m a travel curator who has visited over 30 countries and is currently based in Dubai. For more of Tingu Travel’s experiences, you can follow us on Instagram and Tik Tok @tingutravel