Watch a falconry display
Relied upon by the nomadic Bedouin for their hunting prowess, falcons are revered in Arab culture. Today, falconry is a local sport that shows off the skill of both bird and handler. To learn more about the history of falconry and watch these magnificent birds of prey in full flight, head to the desert resorts of Bab al Shams or Al Maha or join a desert safari where a falconry display is usually part of the programme.
Swim with dolphins and sea lions
If you’ve always dreamed of splashing about with Flipper, you can do just that at the legendary Atlantis, The Palm resort. Dolphin encounters range from standing in shallow water to swimming, or even scuba diving, alongside these charismatic creatures. You can also wade into waist-high water for an up-close encounter with the resort’s super-cute fur seals. You don’t need to be a hotel guest, but you will need to book in advance.
Make like Carrie on a camel
Gather the girls and have your own Sex and the City moment during a camel ride through the rolling desert dunes. Once the region’s ‘ships of the desert’ transporting Bedouin from oasis to oasis, camels have been superseded by 4WDs, but are nevertheless still much admired in the local culture. For an unforgettable experience, combine a sunset camel ride with dinner under the stars in traditional Bedouin-style camp.
Spot gazelles on safari
If you’re keen on spotting some indigenous animals, a desert wildlife drive in a luxury 4WD is just the ticket. Spot free-roaming herds of Arabian oryx and gazelles, as well as lizards, birds and sand cats among the flora and fauna of the reddish-gold desert sands of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, the UAE’s first national park. Book a day-trip with one of the many Dubai-based tour companies.
Go horse riding in the desert
Horses are a big part of Emirati culture, from the prized Arabian horses of desert tribes to the million-dollar thoroughbreds that race in the ‘Sport of Kings’, one of Dubai’s most popular pastimes. One of the best places to ride an Arabian horse is in the desert. Experienced horsewomen can head out with a guide to watch the sun rise over the dunes and put the horse, renowned for its speed, endurance, and intelligence, through its paces.