In April 2018 I visited the Al Maha Desert Resort, a place I've had on my Dubai to do list for over 10 years. Having been owned and managed by Emirates, it is now operated by Marriott through its Luxury Collection brand. The hotel is set in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, and is definitely one of the nicer ways to explore and experience the beauty of the desert. Below are a few impressions.
Each of the resort's villas comes with its own infinity pool overlooking the desert.
Al Maha Interiors
The villas are kept quite traditional and blend well into the surroundings.
The exterior is meant to reflect Bedouin tents.
Have not figured out the name of this guy.
The Arabian Oryx
A majestic animal, in its typical pose on top of a dune.
The sand patterns in the dunes always make for amazing photos.
While the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve isn't in fact huge (at just over 200 square km), it's still big enough to not see many signs of civilisation around.
Should make for a few Instagram likes...
The resort's main restaurant, overlooking the desert.
Had the pleasure to do a 6am morning walk, where it is still cool, and the light is beautiful. Each villa has a field guide that explains the local flora and fauna.
Signs of Life
These walks tell the tales of what happens in the desert at night - it isn't as empty as it would seem on first glance.
Most of the area is covered in dunes, but there are a few planes as well.
Shifting sand dunes in the foreground and the plains in the background, which still show signs of having been under water many thousands of years ago.
There are about 400 Oryx in the DDCR - the breeding program started in the 90s, when this species was almost extinct. Now the species is claissifed as vulnerable, with about 8000 remaining.
Oryx in the Sunrise
The amazing morning light makes them stand out even more in the dunes.
Not as impressive the the oryx, yet still elegant to watch.
The Arabian Oryx is the national animal of the UAE. You will also find the country's national tree here, the Ghaf tree.
Not as barren as it would seem.