When you're in the thick of the city, it's easy to forget that just beyond the skyscrapers lilies a vast wililderness waiting to be explored. To really appreciate the surroundings that the UAE has to offer, you need to venture out and experience the natural wonders of the Arabian countryside for at least a night or two.
Choose from the huge expanses of the desert or the enchanting rocky mountains and breathtaking coastlines and get ready for an unforgettable experience. Throughout this section, we’ll pick a few popular camping locations, give you a clear description of the general equipment you’ll need, and where to get it from. If you’re partial to a more luxurious outdoor experience, we’ve also got a few ‘glamping’ spots to make your stay in the wild a little bit more comfortable.
Warm temperatures and little rain means you can camp with less equipment and preparation than in most other countries. But, despite camping in the UAE and Oman being generally pretty safe, there are several safety aspects to consider before you venture off.
First of all, you need to make sure that the car you’re taking is in very good condition before you leave, and that it is capable of tackling all the roads, tracks and dunes that you plan to drive on. Check the tyre pressure, fluid levels and ensure that you have tow ropes and shackles, a fire extinguisher, tyre pressure gauge, jack, shovel and a basic tool kit. Always have a fully charged mobile and let people know where you’re planning to camp too.
The ideal time for a camping trip is between October and April. During these winter months, it can get cold at night, so it is important to pack more rather than less, especially if you are in a 4WD and have no space issues.
Luckily, in the UAE there’s a great selection of stores that offer a huge variety of camping equipment whatever your budget. Head to the Shopping section for listings.
Generally speaking, there are no restrictions on where you can camp, with the exception of some private beaches, but obviously people’s privacy and property need to be respected. While the people you encounter in the countryside are generally friendly, curious and helpful, this doesn’t mean that they want you sleeping on their crops.
If you do end up camping near habitation, try to be considerate with the amount of noise and light you make. Should you be camping in the desert, remember that while it feels as if you’re completely alone, chances are there are others looking for camping spots too. Don’t pitch your tents directly at the base of dunes where oncoming off-roaders could plough over your camp. Shift a little further out.
For campfires, try to take firewood from a building site (do ask first) or rubbish tip beforehand. Sometimes, wood can be found in the wild, but never knock down a tree unless they are dead first – live trees don’t burn well in any case. Alternatively, purchase some from roadside stalls (Dhs.5-10 a bundle). Remember that, while campfires are an essential addition to any camping trip, make sure that yours is properly maintained at all times (and properly buried when you leave) and keep in mind that small fires are easier to control, especially during windy conditions.
As the evening draws on, make sure everyone stays together or you at least know when people are heading off to answer the call of nature, and make sure you keep your shoes on at all times, or you might find yourself stepping on a few nasty creepy crawlies such as spiders, scorpions or snakes. If you do get stung by a scorpion or bitten by a snake, bandage the affected limb, do not apply ice, and seek medical attention.