“Sublime adventure desert. And yet I have rarely, and deeply, slept so well in absolute silence. A weekend at a desert hotel.” Kai Böcking
Even if it seems different in view of the mega-buildings in the Gulf, the United Arab Emirates is a gigantic sandbox. More than two-thirds of the seven Emirates’ surface area is covered by fine sand, which varies from light to dark red. And anyone who spends a longer period of time in the Gulf appreciates the quick opportunity to escape from the hectic city life into the boundless silence of the desert. A night in the desert means to perceive only the rush of your own blood and to feel the endless expanse of the desert.
So for your weekend in the desert? What would you like? Five-star luxury or a little adventure? We opt for adventure with style. The Arabian Nights Village, for example, can be reached from Dubai and Abu Dhabi in around an hour’s drive. The sports car should stay in the air-conditioned garage, the roads into the Village are gravel roads with more potholes than there are camels in the UAE. So, either have the camels picked up from the Arabian Nights Village or arrive with your own off-road car. The fact that wild camels cross the roads on their way to the desert should be taken into account.
My house is your house
The Arabian Nights Village is a modern Bedouin camp in the desert. Not to be compared with the many tourist camps, where thousands of tourists are taken every day to experience the supposed Arab triad within three hours: Dune Bashing, belly dancing and Arab buffet. No, the approach of the camp opened in 2012 is different. Here, the focus is more on class than on mass. And on the traditions of the Bedouins, who are famous for their generous and warm hospitality. “Al Bayt Baytak” – my house is your house.
The camp is situated in a gorge surrounded by high red dunes. Two Arabic watchtowers form the entrance to the actual camp, which is 85,000 square meters. As a guest you have to decide how much Bedouin style you want to experience: Double rooms are available, for example, in the luxury Bedouin tent, in the palm wood house of the pearl fishermen, in the historic desert stone house or in the three-room suite in one of the watchtowers. I choose the Desert Stone House: 22 square meters of concentrated Orient, embroidered ceilings, a bathroom decorated with mosaics, a terrace with sunbeds and a view of palm trees and the desert.
All houses are individually distributed in groups on the grounds. Air conditioning, free minibar and daily fresh fruit are part of the desert comfort. The different houses are connected by paved paths that lead to the restaurant and the 200 square meter pool. Swimming with a view of the huge dunes – great.
Dune bashing or surfing
Do you need more action? No problem. Included in the price are Dune Bashing (by jeep at a crazy pace over the dunes), camel riding, Dune Surfing (on foot up, board down) or a traditional Henna Painting in the evening, which lasts about a week. You can ride your own quad bike through the desert for an extra charge.
However, the camp only reveals its full charm when it gets dark. Then the whole camp shines in soft light, which is slightly reflected in the surrounding dunes. One sits on the terrace of the restaurant or on the ground by the campfire, enjoys the traditional Arabic food and is amazed by the starry sky.
Oh yes, there is no mobile phone reception here, also no TV in the room. But who needs that, with this view into a sandy paradise? Rarely have you ever slept so well and deeply in absolute silence.
Kai Böcking …
has seen and experienced much in the Emirates over the years. The desert hotel was once again a completely new experience. With all luxury, nature reigns here without any ifs and buts. And the skyscrapers and malls seem light years away.
At a glance
Getting there: The Arabian Nights Village is about an hour’s drive from Dubai or Abu Dhabi in the desert. It is best to choose an all-terrain jeep or use the transfer from the Arabian Nights Village.
Hotel: Accommodation in the luxury camp can be booked individually or as a group, including mini bar (soft drinks), jeep safari into the desert, camel riding, sand boarding, henna tattoo and evening entertainment. 30 different double rooms, small suites and a master suite are available. The double rooms are all located in individual houses, which represent different traditional styles of living: Luxury Bedouin tent, traditional palm wood house, desert stone house or 3-room Master Suite in the Watchtower. All rooms have air conditioning, mini bar and separate bathroom, some with terrace. 200 square meters pool area.
Adresse: Arabian Nights Village, P.O.Box 111894, Abu Dhabi, UAE, +971 2 676 9990
Fotos: Arabian Nights Village, Kai Böcking