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Updated by Joanna James on Jul 13, 2023
Headline for Exciting desert activities in Abu Dhabi for your adrenaline fix – Classic features of the desert land
Joanna James Joanna James
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Exciting desert activities in Abu Dhabi for your adrenaline fix – Classic features of the desert land

Abu Dhabi boasts the largest desert in the world – the Empty Quarter expands over 650,000 square kilometres. The mysterious desert of Abu Dhabi is just what one needs if on the lookout for adventure.


Dune bashing

This is one of the best things to do in Abu Dhabi. The Empty Quarter is one with many things, and dune bashing is among them. If you have a craving for a bit of relentless driving, you could take up a course which involves just that, and you are going to do it with some experienced drivers – you can do it on your own, but it isn't exactly safe, it is better if you partner with a few experienced drivers. The desert is only 200km away from the city, so you will reach the desert in no time at all.


Desert safari

Sand dunes are a magical sight during the day, and what do you imagine they are like come nightfall? If you want to find out, you should challenge yourself with a desert safari. A desert safari also includes spending a night in a Bedouin tent – though with everything modern – under the starry sky. If you are fascinated and intrigued by the Bedouin way of life and Emirati culture, spending a night at the desert is going to take you as close to their culture as possible. An Abu Dhabi desert tour will also introduce you to dune bashing, camel riding, horse riding, sandboarding, hands painted with henna and watching falcons. Not persuaded yet? Spend a few days at a place like Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, and you will be.


Road trips

Though, strictly speaking, not a 'desert thing' to do, road trips are something you can do around the desert and therefore enlist as a desert activity. There are a few road trips you can take while in Abu Dhabi. One is the journey between Jebel Maleiha or in other words, the Fossil Rock and the city. Exploring around the rock wondering what it might have been millions of years ago is quite thought-provoking – it is said that the vast desert was once an ocean that was home to many marine creatures; as a result there are thousands of fossils found on the slopes of the Fossil Rock – all these fossils were created aeons ago, and the thought of it alone inspires awe and mystery in one. It takes only three hours to get to the fossil site, and every minute you spend on the road driving is worth it.


Historical sites

If you are interested in Emirati culture, all you have to do is visit historical sites and monuments located in the vicinity of Abu Dhabi. Al Ain's forts and castles are great places that hold evidence of the proud old history of the UAE – there are a few towers and archaeological sites that receive visitors, the forts are relatively new, given that they were built in the 19th century – two of the oldest forts, however, are Al Murayjib and Meyzad Fort. While you are familiarising yourself with the historical charm, you should also visit Al Ain National Museum.


Camel racing

You should content yourself with being a spectator rather than being a rider – camel racing can be a dangerous occupation. This is one of the things that uphold the Arabian culture and inspires danger and excitement in visitors. If you haven't been to a camel race, make arrangements to do so while touring Abu Dhabi. One of the race tracks you can visit is the Al Wathba Camel Race Track which is located in a 45km distance from the city.