The enigmatic desert dunes of Abu Dhabi are just waiting to be explored.
Experience the majesty of the Rub’ al Khali, or Empty Quarter, with its golden sands and rolling dunes. Home to the Liwa Oasis and Al Ain Oasis, this breathtaking landscape is the perfect setting for a relaxing retreat.
Embrace the peace and tranquillity of Abu Dhabi’s desert resorts and spas, then head out on an action-packed safari, complete with camel rides, sand boarding and dune buggy tours.
Capture mesmerising sunsets from the peak of Jebel Hafeet and enjoy a romantic star-lit dinner among the dunes.
Plan your desert retreat to Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways.
Make your stay memorable in one of Abu Dhabi’s five-star desert resorts. Plus, enjoy international dining, deluxe spa treatments and a variety of leisure facilities.
Add a little romance to your stay with a delicious barbecue in the desert. Look up at the twinkling stars as you toast to this special occasion.
Thrill-seekers can explore the desert landscapes in 4x4s or dune buggies on an action-packed safari. You can even try sand boarding down the slopes.
From the Empty Quarter’s towering sand dunes to Al Ain’s lush green landscapes, Abu Dhabi is a haven of natural beauty.
Where to stay
Choose from a wide range of stunning hotels and resorts across the Abu Dhabi desert, from the Empty Quarter to Al Ain.
Stay just outside the Garden City or venture further afield to the Liwa Oasis – locally known as Bateen Liwa. This vast desert lies along the southern border of Abu Dhabi, where the UAE meets Saudi Arabia.
Enjoy breathtaking views of the landscape from your plush room or spacious suite. Each resort offers an array of on-site amenities, including indulgent spas, international restaurants, gorgeous outdoor swimming pools and a kids club to keep your little ones entertained.
The desert is packed with activities for every type of holiday.
Families can enjoy exploring the Al Ain Oasis, with its immersive Eco-Centre exhibitions and shaded boardwalks, while large groups can challenge each other to sand boarding competitions down the dunes.
Planning your honeymoon? There’s nothing more romantic than a couple’s massage in your hotel’s five-star spa, followed by dinner under the stars in your own private part of the desert.
So, whether you fancy exploring your resort or venturing out into the Abu Dhabi desert, there are plenty of things to see and do.
Embark on an adventure through the dunes on your very own desert safari, featuring camel rides, late night barbecues and camping under the stars.
Hike or bike through desert landscapes and discover the region’s ancient tombs at the Jebel Hafeet Desert Park.
Swap sand dunes for lush date palms at Al Ain Oasis, the UAE’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can learn about local agriculture.
Abu Dhabi’s desert offers a world of adventure for the whole family to enjoy. So, book on to one of the popular safari tours to make the most of your stay.
Speed through the dunes in your very own 4x4 or take an exhilarating tour of the desert in a fast-paced dune buggy. Combine your adventure with a camel ride or sand boarding for a truly memorable experience.
Discover the archaeological heritage of Abu Dhabi’s original Bedouin settlers at Jebel Hafeet Desert Park. Located at the foot of Jebel Hafeet Mountain, this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers insight into UAE history, dating back 5,000 years.
Book a guided tour of the ruins to uncover more than 500 Neolithic tombs, as well as ancient copper artifacts and ceramics. Camping and glamping facilities are also available on-site if you fancy extending your adventure.
Admire the remarkable natural landscapes in and around the Abu Dhabi desert. Discover the towering Tel Moreeb sand dune in Liwa Oasis – it’s thought to be the world’s tallest dune – or explore the date palm groves of Al Ain Oasis.
You can even meet the friendly camels who live among the dunes. Head to one of the local farms as part of your safari to learn about this native species and how they survive the extreme desert conditions.
Extend your desert safari with an overnight stay in a traditional Bedouin campsite, complete with cosy tents, colourful carpets and comfy pillows and sleeping bags. It’s the best way to see both the sunset and sunrise over the Abu Dhabi desert.
You can also enjoy a five-star glamping experience at Jebel Hafeet Desert Park. Stay in one of the air-conditioned bubble tents under a star-studded sky for a one-of-a-kind desert experience.
Whether you have a special family occasion or you’re on your honeymoon, a star-lit dinner in the desert is the perfect way to celebrate.
Look out for resorts with rooftop lounges where you can catch a sensational sunset over the dunes. Better still, enjoy Bedouin-style dining on a desert safari, complete with delicious barbecue, Arabian belly dancers and live music.
If you fancy something even more exclusive, book a private dining experience with your own personal chef.
It’s best to book your desert safari tour well in advance, as it can get busy – especially during peak season (December to March).
Drive to the peak of Jebel Hafeet for a breathtaking view of the sun setting over Al Ain.
If you’re planning a trip into the desert, make sure you bring plenty of water, sun cream and sun protection, including hats and sunglasses.
Many of Abu Dhabi’s desert resorts offer spas on-site, where you can enjoy Middle Eastern treatments and soothing massages.
The main desert in Abu Dhabi is called the Rub’ al Khali, which means Empty Quarter. It’s the largest uninterrupted sand desert in the world, stretching 250,000 square miles (650,000 square kilometres).
As well as covering parts of the UAE, it also spans parts of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman.
The best time to go on a desert holiday tends to be during the spring, autumn or winter months, when the temperatures are cooler – from September to March.
Hotels are open year-round in the Abu Dhabi desert if you do decide to visit during the hotter seasons. There’s plenty of activities to enjoy on-site and stick to cooler mornings for outdoor activities.
Visiting the desert is easy with Etihad. Just book your holiday to Abu Dhabi and choose a resort in the Al Ain Oasis or Liwa Oasis. This gives you easy access to the desert, plus views of the sand dunes from your hotel.
You can then book a desert safari and dune buggy tour through your hotel or tour operator to get a first-hand experience of the Empty Quarter.
You can also stay in a city centre hotel and book a day trip or overnight stay in the desert.
An Abu Dhabi Desert Safari can take anywhere from four hours to an overnight stay, depending on your tour operator and the activities you choose to include in the package.
You can start your safari in the morning or evening, and tailor the trip to suit your schedule. Add in a visit to the local farm for camel riding, go dune bashing or sand boarding with friends, then stop for lunch or a star-lit barbecue.
Liwa Oasis is located along the northern edge of the Empty Quarter and is home to the famous Tel Moreeb. Standing 300 meters high, this towering sand dune is considered one of the tallest dunes in the world.
Thrill-seekers and motorsports enthusiasts can take on the challenge of climbing to the top in a 4x4. In fact, every February, the region hosts the Liwa International Festival where you take part in the Moreeb Hill Climb.
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All imagery provided by © Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi