FX Excursions

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Experience Nature at Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

by Eugenia Lazaris

Mar 31, 2023

© Gerold Grotelueschen | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / Middle East

Many visitors to the United Arab Emirates go in search of over-the-top luxury, heading to Dubai for nonstop excitement and indulgence. But what many don’t realize is the desert is also a haven for nature lovers, and Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is the perfect place for family travelers to discover its many hidden secrets.


The reserve covers nearly 87 square miles and works to preserve and protect the desert’s fragile ecosystem by giving native plants and animals a safe space to call home. Some of the beautiful creatures you may spot on a trip to the reserve include sand foxes; caracals (members of the cat family); desert geckos; Arabian hares; and Arabian oryxes, members of the gazelle family reintroduced to the area in 1999 as one of the first efforts at rebuilding and preserving the local ecosystem as the city blossomed into a tourism hot spot. The desert is also alive with plants like gourds, herbs and beautiful flowers, adding splashes of color to the landscape.


The reserve focuses on preserving the natural habitat and is therefore protective of its plants and animals, but there are ways for visitors to enjoy the area and see its inhabitants. To ensure the mission of the reserve is respected, only specially approved tour providers are allowed to bring guests onto the reserve. These tour providers offer incredible experiences, letting you explore the desert in a variety of ways.


They offer activities like camel rides, drives through the sandy dunes, falconry experiences, Bedouin-style dining and overnight camping. You can also go on a wildlife drive or an overnight safari, go sand boarding in the dunes, or see the desert from the ground on horseback or from the sky in a hot-air balloon.


You can also spend a night on the reserve at Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, a Marriott property offering the only on-site tourist accommodations. Whether spending a few hours playing or a night immersed in the desert, the reserve and its incredible wildlife offer indelible proof that life always finds a way, even in what may seem to some like an inhospitable environment.


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