Masking virtually two million sq. kilometres, the Arabian Desert is huge, but additionally stuffed with historical past, tradition and wildlife. Right here’s how we encountered all of these items in a Platinum Heritage Desert Safari in Dubai.
Once you’re in Dubai, surrounded by the modernity of its buildings and the ocean breeze coming off the Persian Gulf, it’s straightforward to overlook that on the fringe of the town limits is the world’s second largest sand desert.
The Arabian Desert fills a lot of the Arabian Peninsula.
To provide you some scale, in the event you may transfer the Arabian Desert over Australia, all of the states and territories on the east coast could be below sand. As would all the three west coast states of the USA in addition to Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Utah and most of Montana in the event you moved the Arabian Desert there.
You could possibly match the UK into it about seven and a half occasions.
Try our video of our time with Platinum Heritage within the Arabian Desert:
The southern third of the Arabian Desert—ominously often known as Rub’ al Khali or The Empty Quarter—spans 650,000km², an space greater than France.
And it’s solely a brief drive from Dubai’s lofty towers, rushing freeways and plush seashore resorts to the sandy brink of this a part of the desert.
Platinum Desert Safari with Platinum Heritage
We’re picked up from our lodge—the Andaz Dubai the Palm—by our information and driver, Austin in one in all Platinum Heritage’s spectacular top-of-the-line Vary Rovers for our Platinum Safari expertise.
It’s a clean, stress-free drive into the desert and as we go, Austin briefs us on the afternoon’s programme.
We additionally decide dinner choices for our six-course feast later, beginning with a selection of soups, then salads, starters, foremost programs (one in all which we’re amused to see is an Australian beef fillet steak), desserts and drinks.
Platinum Heritage Desert Safari Half I: the muster
Austin pulls up on the very brink of the desert amidst the massive fleet of Platinum Heritage vehicles. The traces of iconic classic Land Rovers—the automobile of selection for Hollywood explorers—is spectacular and we’re virtually wishing we had been in a single.
However as Austin explains, though they’re enjoyable, these older automobiles don’t have the grunt to get as far into the desert as we will go within the newest high-spec Vary Rover we arrived in. Plus, air-con!
After we now have our conventional head scarfs—the ladies’s model is known as a sheila and the boys’s is a ghutra—we hop into our automobile and Austin whisks us by the safety gates into the Empty Quarter.
Platinum Heritage Desert Safari Half II: exploring the desert
The a part of Rub’ al Khali we’re going into is the truth is a nature sanctuary.
The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) is the UAE’s first nationwide park, spanning 225km²–about 5% of Dubai’s whole land space.
It’s a must to have a particular allow to enter, and there’s no ‘dune bashing’ allowed right here. You’re not even allowed out of your automobile until your information says it’s okay. Many of the DDCR hasn’t had direct human contact since 1999.
These guidelines have protected the dunes and their delicate ecosystems, bringing again the surprisingly giant number of native animals and vegetation again to the realm.
Opposite to common understanding, there’s loads of life within the desert. Hosts of reptiles, spiders and bugs dwell below the sand or are nocturnal. Vegetation like UAE’s nationwide tree, the ghat tree, thrive right here and herds of the Arabian oryx roam the dunes.
Threatened with extinction, the Arabian oryx had been saved by a breeding programme Sheikh Zayed launched within the Sixties. The oryx inhabitants within the UAE to now the most important on the earth with over 4,000 dwelling right here.
As we drive by the countless great thing about the desert, we additionally come to watering holes and a artifical lake that helps marine and birdlife. Austin additionally reveals us some conventional Bedouin natural treatments from the native vegetation rising close by.
Platinum Heritage Desert Safari Half III: refreshments and falconry
Again at base, we’re welcomed with a glass of scrumptious glowing wine (non-alcoholic after all!) and a few canapés as we chill out below the shade of an enormous cover.
And whereas we’re stress-free, Waseem, the Platinum Heritage’s falconer, comes to point out us one of many favorite sports activities of the Arab world. With him is Nova the peregrine falcon.
Falconry is a practice that dates again to when Bedouins, the nomadic individuals of the Arabian Desert, used birds of prey to hunt for them. Nowadays it’s extra about leisure, and seeing the world’s quickest creature hunt Waseem’s lure is wonderful to observe.
The canapés are wonderful: a trio of goat’s cheese with a praline of cashews, brazil nuts, cranberries and honey, smoked salmon and caviar on grilled eggplant, and rolled-up grilled zucchini full of feta and roasted cherry tomatoes.
Platinum Heritage Desert Safari Half IV: camel rides
After the falconry show, we’re taken to the newly arrived camel prepare, the place we climb aboard our ‘ships of the desert’ for a trip to dinner.
The camels are clearly nicely sorted and are pleasant sufficient to have a selfie or two with!
I’d like to say driving a camel is a nice expertise, however I believe I’d have most well-liked the Vary Rover. It’s very bumpy and lurchy, taking photographs and video from up there may be virtually unimaginable, and when the trip involves an finish, the camel sits down virtually catapulting you throughout the desert!
However, they carry us safely throughout the dunes to the royal oasis—an exquisite camp owned by Emirati royalty.
We’re welcomed with a conventional cup of Arabic espresso and contemporary dates. The deep aroma of burning oud, a tree bark that weight for weight is extra priceless than gold, washes over us.
Platinum Heritage Desert Safari Half V: dinner and a present
Set amongst the dunes, this oasis with its pond surrounded by curved cabanas that shield our eating tables brings residence the extent of luxurious of this expertise.
Because the final wealthy gold mild of the setting solar leaves the sides of the dunes behind us with its line of a filagree, the flames of the torches set across the water flicker and dance.
Beneath our cabana sat at our personal desk, we’re introduced cocktails from the bar (additionally non-alcoholic) because the night’s feast begins.
The meals is unimaginable. All coming from the little kitchen set again subsequent to the bar, each merchandise of this six-dish meal is cooked, plated and introduced to perfection.
Midway by dinner, Waseem comes again with Nova the falcon and talks to us for some time. It’s too darkish to fly her once more, however not with Waseem’s different chicken: an imposing pharaoh eagle owl.
Christina and I take it in turns to fairly actually take up the gauntlet, and the owl flies effortlessly and majestically to and from our arms to its perch.
On the finish of the meal, all of us collect within the lounge for the night’s leisure.
Inside the ring arrange in entrance of the pond, a dancing acrobat folds her physique into unimaginable shapes, after which she’s joined by a fire-twirling demon, who sheds sparks and flames in arks that mirror the circle of the dancer’s sanctuary.
Platinum Heritage Desert Safari Half VI: the trip residence
Drained however totally sated, we climb again into the Vary Rover the place Austin presents us with an exquisite (and extremely beneficiant) present field of camel milk sweets, a jar of sidr honey, famed for its medicinal and regenerative properties, an enormous vial of saffron from the area and a pot of the extremely valued Arabic oud.
Our drive again to our lodge within the metropolis is peaceable although enjoyable as we chat in regards to the day’s actions with Austin.
Positively an expertise we’ll all the time bear in mind.