Dubai in the desert - United Arab Emirates

Special feature United Arab Emirates: Dubai in the desert

Dubai in the desert
If the Creek's banks, the Bastakiya, Satwa and Jumeirah aren't far-removed enough from the agitation of the metropolis, we found that getting up at 3.30am for a 4am pick-up, to head to the desert between Abu Dhabi and Dubai and being weightlessly lifted 4 000 feet above sea level, above the soft golden dunes at sunrise a very rewarding experience!

After almost two hours' drive into the heart of the desert near a large oasis settlement, Al Ain, we finally reached our destination. Two huge air balloons lay deflated on the ground waiting for us. As the sun rose slowly the balloons were being filled with hot air. The baskets awaited for us to jump in and take off into to the orange dashed skies! Our balloon pilot was Peter the Polish man with his good humour and high spirits. Up we went and before even realising it, we were floating in the sky! The sun rose from behind the dunes, a perfect circle of magma orange blinded us and suddenly lit up the desert! Gazelles racing across the desert could be seen from the balloon, as well as perfectly symmetrical lush green square fields of crops - a rather odd sight in the middle of a desert...however this marvellous adventure does come at a cost of £160 per person but we found it to be worth it - just make sure you go to bed early beforehand! It is also very cold in the morning before the sun has risen so do wrap up warm. Also getting in and out of the basket is not facilitated by wearing a skirt so ladies, make sure you wear trousers. You should also make sure you go to the toilet before leaving your hotel as for the next 4 or 5 hours there is limited access. We flew with Balloon Adventures (click here for full details).

Text: Rooksana Hossenally.

Image: Stéphanie Poli

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Practical information

  • £400 Weekly budget
  • £300 Flight budget to United Arab Emirates
  • 7h  Flight duration to United Arab Emirates
  • Summer: +2h
    Winter: +3h
    Jet lag
  • No Visa
  • No Vaccinations
  • UAE dirham Currency
  • arabic Languages

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