Camping in UAE - Your Guide To A Magical Arabian Camping Trip

Beaches, deserts and the sunny skies. UAE is more than its towering skyscrapers and glorious shopping arcades. Beneath the sun, sky and stars is an entirely different experience than the lush five-star hotels. This is the beauty of camping in UAE. With a range of options and sites to choose from, camping is a fun activity with different terrains and sights to explore. A fairy easy-going location, with people from all across the globe coming in to pitch their tents, UAE offers professional camping sites as well as some you can take as a novice too. Here, we underline some basics of camping at UAE and the best places you can explore on your trip!

Best time to Go Camping in UAE

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Camping in UAE is an exquisite experience with many people from abroad as well as locals engaging in regular expeditions. There also are professional camping tours, which one can book to get an adventure-filled experience. Camping season is from November to December. Mostly, UAE has two types of camping trips - long term and overnight. Long term camping is regulated by the governmental authorities and requires a permit to undertake, while overnight camping tourists may camp at any place that takes their fancy. 

Best Places to Go Camping in UAE

UAE provides the perfect terrain to enjoy a variety of camping expeditions. You will be spoilt for choice from the most difficult and challenging sites to those of breezy, aesthetic appeal. Depending upon your thrill and adventurous nature, classified below are some of the popular camping sites you’re likely to enjoy. 

1. Banan Beach Resort

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Located in Jebel Ali, Dubai, the Banan Beach Resort is a fun, beachfront venue where a riot of coloured tents welcome you. An Instagrammable location, this might be a far departure from your conventional camping ideals, beware. With a host of luxuries like bathrooms, BBQ station and Wi-Fi with provisions for dining and dining are available. You can also enjoy a multitude of water activities, moonlight yoga and laying post by the shore. As evening dawns, the tent start lighting up and the nearby market opens up.

The best part of this camping site is the pre-planned and well-executed concept, with minimum effort on your part and still making all the campsite memories for a lifetime!

But all of this comes at a cost! Prepare to shell around USD 95 for a simple night in the tent and if you’re feeling fancy, then USD 270 onwards for a cosy chalet.
Location: Jebel Ail - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Camp Type: Beach Camp

2. Lahbab Sands Camping

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Lahbab Sands is one of the most popular camping sites in UAE, resplendent with red sands stretching far into the horizon. Campers begin their journey from the Fossil Rock, where dune bikers often whizz by. Often a paradise for dune bashers, speed driving in dunes where the sifting wind presents challenges to the bikers. The buzz of the area, ‘The Big Red’ is a mammoth 300-foot sand dune that every dune basher aims to conquer.

Perfect for beginners and relatively close to local habitation and facilities, the Lahbab Sands Camping will require some tact and understanding. Often thronged with groups of bubbling tourists, it is great for novice campers. And when the night falls, star gazing along the roughshod sands is an experience to never miss out on!
Location: Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Camp Type: Desert Camp

3. Al Hajar Mountains Camping Site

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If you’re more of a mountainous camper, then this beautiful place for camping in UAE is the perfect option for you. Even as a majority part of the Hajar mountains lies in the Omani region, there is a considerable stretch that is set in UAE. Winding your way from the small villages to the rocky top, the camping site is set in panoramic vistas. A slew of physical pursuits like rock climbing, trekking, adventure sports among others are best enjoyed here. The path is rough, so be prepared for some trekking before you set camp. And if you’re persistent enough, you can also visit the spring waters at Masafi! Preferred by the more experienced campers, consider going as a group with tour guides to have the best first experience.
Location: Oman-UAE border area, about 4 hours from Abu Dhabi Corniche
Camp Type: Mountain Hiking Camp

4. Umm Al Quwain Beach Camping Site

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Rated as one of the best beach camping sites in UAE, this camping site is located along the coastal areas of Dubai. With campers preferring to pitch their tents near the shore, it is imperative to check for high and low tides before making a decision. You can enjoy fishing, kayaking and bird watching with regular sightings of flamingos. Bring your best fishing gear, binoculars and barbeque grills as things get very adventurous at the coast of Al Ras. A typically comfortable and unique experience of camping by the coast.
Location: Sheikh Saud Bin Rashid Al Mualla Street, Al Maidan, Umm Al Quwain, United Arab Emirates
Camp Type: Beach Camp

5. Ras Al Khaimah Camping Site

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The Ras Al Khaimah camping site is a traditionally desert centric camping site, for the tough hearted campers. Located a little far away from the cityside, one needs to be prepared for any and every emergency that might arise at camping. You will relatively find some farms and explorers along the way, but it is always better to rely on oneself. The most striking feature of this site is its rich flora and fauna, with camels lined up all across the dunes and palm, banyan and other trees setting up the perfect landscape. Migratory birds flock through the winter season, making this spot a birdwatcher favourite during this time. Make sure you are stocked up, and once you are, lay back and enjoy the dunes, the fauna and the farms on an overnight safari!
Location: Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
Camp Type: Desert Camp

6. Liwa Overnight Desert Safari

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The Empty Quarter of UAE’ or the Liwa desert is in the middle of nowhere (lost within the routes of Dubai to Abu Dhabi). Far stretching into the land is just sand, dunes and more sand. One has to be prepared for basics and more when they undertake this challenging camping in UAE. Since there is basically nothing void of animals and sand, it presents a real challenge for campers to survive with just the basics of plentiful water, GPS and maps. Do not forget to stock up on petrol in your ride as places are far spread out and it is very easy to get lost here. But apart from these challenges, Liwa Desert rewards you with its mesmerizing scenic beauty. It is ideal to enjoy the desert on a 4x4 and camp at night.
Location: Abu Dhabi,United Arab Emirates
Camp Type: Desert Camp

7. Al Qudra Lakes

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Al Qudra is the perfect campsite for beginners, who want to experience holistic camping with the reassurance the Dubai skyline in the rearview. This is one of the more tourist-friendly sites, without the need for 4x4 and all-out camping gear. With handy binoculars and good sporting gear, you can enjoy this site’s unique camping experience. With the iconic dual landscape of an oasis and desert topography, you can explore far and wide in this extensive site. Resplendent with lakes like the Love Lakes and Last Lake of Al Wudra, you are bound to spend a weekend snapping pictures of the rich wildlife and picturesque backgrounds.
Location: Saih Al Salam, Dubai,United Arab Emirates
Camp Type: Desert camp

8. White Sands Beach

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Located between the Fins and Wadi Shab, this popular beach campsite is close to the Oman border. Most enthusiasts prefer to set camp at the cliffside overlooking the sandy beach. You can enjoy the sights and sounds of the white beach, enjoy professionally managed water sports like paddleboarding, snorkelling, diving and fishing. Make sure of protecting yourself from the harsh sun and lurking shore animals like sea urchins. A perfect site for the people who love the sand, sea and sights beyond rather than the never-ending desert.
Location: Jumeirah Beach Residence, United Arab Emirates
Camp Type: Beach camp

Essentials to Carry When Going Camping in UAE

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Camping equipment is of paramount importance as your closest available source of supplies might actually be miles away. Make a checklist and ensure you have already and double-checked before actually heading out to set camp. 

Some basics of camping equipment to keep in mind:
  • Tent, support poles and stakes
  • Tent footprint or ground cover for the base
  • Repair kit (with basic items for emergency purposes)
  • Sheets and sleeping bags
  • Firewood, grills and stovetop kettle
  • Barbecue set and tin foil (or a set of cooking items like 
  • Charcoal and matches
  • Extra clothing (warm clothes)
  • Lanterns 
  • First Aid Kit
  • Tow rope
  • Rubbish bags
  • Tissues and wipes
  • Maps and GPS (having both online and offline Maps is important)
  • Insect repellant
  • Ice Box
  • Water- for drinking and washing
  • Torch or flashlight 

Things to Note When Going Camping in UAE

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With the gear in hand, you’re almost ready to set your foot out into the wilderness! But take a moment to pause and tick off all the essentials and pack only your essentials. 

1. Packing your gear

As you set down to pack all of the essentials into the tiny backpack, make a note of what is absolutely vital and cannot be avoided for the night. On the other hand, do not over-pack as lugging the bag around will become back-breaking and ruin your camping expedition. You shall also be required to carry utensils for whipping up a meal, which will definitely take up space. Travel light!

2. Pre-planning your food

Among the perils of camping is the unpredictability and when it comes to survival, food is of prime importance. A smart hack is to pre-cook as much food as possible so that your hassle of getting the same done in the open is reduced. Pack a lot of energy-giving food, water and light snacks. You can even invest in an Ice Box which can store food up to three to five days at a maximum.

3. Travel Insurance

And lastly, critical documentation before you set off to camp is the travel insurance. Never step foot without one as it comes handy in cases of accidents and mishappenings. 

Estimated Budget for Camping in UAE

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There are a slew of camping packages that are available in UAE that range from USD 170-200 per person (2 days and one night). Many hotels have tie-ups with camping facilitators making your pickup and drop off easier. If you do go through your hotel, the packages shall include transportation, guide, camping equipment and refreshments during the trek. However, you are free to decline it if you want to take the adventure a notch higher!

Safety When Camping

Camping is recognized as a recreational activity in UAE and mandatory guidelines have been issued by the UAE's Civil Defence in the purview of fire prevention. It is mandatory to abide by safety requirements and standards given in its guidelines so as to enjoy their camping expedition.

Some of the explicit guidelines are:
  • All light sources and lanterns should remain at least 50cm away from the tent cloth
  • Do not use heat-radiating equipment - like ovens or barbecues - inside the tent
  • Make sure you have a fire extinguisher nearby or inside the tent
  • Do not use open flames - like candles or lighters - inside the tent
  • Tents should be pitched in high areas far enough from water tide levels
  • Be mindful of mud floors infested with scorpions, ants and other insects
Now that we've covered everything one needs to know about camping in UAE, start your Arabian adventure right away!

This post was published by Parul Pushkarna

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