A three hour drive from Dubai takes you the Rub Al Khali, the largest uninterrupted sand desert in the world, with its beautiful tall red dunes. At the edge and close to the border to Saudi Arabia lies Qasr Al Sarab, a beautiful Anantara hotel with amazing views.
On the way there you can find the Emirates National Auto Museum, definitely one of the more unexpected UAE attractions. Situated in a lonely pyramid-shaped building off the road towards Liwa, it features the collection of HH Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan. Cars include such special vehicles as the world’s largest truck, a Rolls Royce used by the Queen, an 1885 Mercedes and his rainbow colour collection of S class
Took the opportunity to shoot a timelapse video of the Milky Way over the desert from 2 am into the sunrise. Watch below.
Milky Way Panorama
My first attempt at a Milky Way Panorama, shot over the Rub Al Khali.
Rub Al Khali
While this is the "empty quarter" there are still a few sources of light, mostly power lines and oil fields.
A stacked exposure with the obligatory flashlight.
The bright star is Jupiter - what else can you spot?
Castle in the Sand
The Palace of Mirage truly lives up to its name.
An early morning shot after a night out on Milky Way hunt.
Like a true palace, Qasr Al Sarab has a few wall around it.
Typical arabic architecture and lamps adorn the building.
Plants are a rare luxury in this part of the desert.
The main gate into the hotel.
The building features several wings spread over multiple floors.
The Royal Pavillion
Somewhat secluded (even more so) are the Royal Villas of the resort.
The dune in front of the hotel is a popular sunset spot.
The House Dune
The Rub Al Khali features some of the tallest dunes in the world. The white spots in the bottom third? Gazelles!
A small pond attracts gazelles and other animals.
It's a tough walk up the house dune.
Desert sunsets always evoke a special atmosphere.
Qasr Al Sarab
A view of the full resort.
The sands in the Rub Al Khali are darker and of more intense colours than in the northern parts of the UAE.
As the new day begins before sunrise, the air is clear and fresh.
Every corner brings a new view of the desert and the palace's architecture.
A small valley between the dunes is home to a few spots of greenery, with the Milky Way behind.
The iPhone flashlight made for a different type of selfie.
Qasr Al Sarab was built in between three dunes.
Didn't spot one this time - but what majestic animals they are.
The typical Rub Al Khali scenery, showing valleys with afew plants surrounded by tall dunes.
The Earth on Wheels
The oldest car in the collection is an 1885 steam powered Mercedes.
The building is pyramid shaped, and completely open inside, with two floors of cars.
In the Distance
Many of the UAE's and Saudi's largest oil fields are located in this part of the Arabian peninsula.
Yellow taxis, police cars, you name it!
One of the most famous collections of Mercedes cars, as Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, was also known as the 'Rainbow Sheikh'.
Guiness World Record
The world's largest Jeep - it actually runs! For scale, the tires are about 4m in diameter.