The United Arab Emirates has seen rapid development in the last 50 years and it can rival any city in Europe in terms of its buildings, roads, and parks. The development is so rapid, deep, and wide that many people forget the lifestyle of tribes that inhabited this place. These tribes, called Bedouin, basically involved camel and sheep raising, pearl harvesting, deep-sea fishing, and trading. They would often do camping near oasis with their entire caravan and move once trading is over. They are still known as excellent hosts who would receive guests with open arms and provide all possible amenities including food.
Al Maha Resort has tried to capture the basic essence of Bedouin Lifestyle. It is called Al Maha Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa. Al Maha Resort as it is known is located deep inside the UAE desert, within an oasis. The total area is known as Al Maha Conservation Reserve. Al Maha is the Arabic word for the desert Oryx. Desert Oryx conservation is the main theme of this beautiful resort. The whole resort consists of 52 luxury suites and private swimming pools as well as arts and artifacts that reflect the Bedouin lifestyle. Run currently by Marriott, this resort is not somewhere everyone goes. You must have refined taste, a spirit of adventure, and an appreciation for different lifestyles.
Al Maha Resort is located among beautiful and limitless desert dunes, ubiquitous palm trees, and Hajar mountain massif. When you wake up here, you will not hear the car honks or other sounds that we are so familiar with, rather, you would find absolute silence broken occasionally by the call of Oryx or birds. Your activities would not include corporate meetings but meeting with various herds of animals that form the habitat of the reserves. Al Maha Resort will give you a peak-a-boo of actual desert living, albeit, a stylized one.
Al Maha Resort takes pride in playing a very proactive role in the conservation efforts of the Al Maha desert. As An eco-resort, it studies the human impact on the biosystem. It has taken a lot of steps to reduce the carbon footprint of human activities. One major step is not allowing petrol/ diesel vehicles to be driven around the resort. It encourages electric cars actively and has two charging stations very near to the reception area of the hotel resort. Further, it has researchers and conservationists working constantly to develop further steps to increase the natural biosystem. So when you go there next, you are most welcome to understand these steps and contribute to them.
Al Maha Experience
As Al Maha Resort is very exclusive, you need to book your room in advance. When you reach the Al Maha Desert Wild Life Conservation, as if you have arrived by your car then that is where you will leave your vehicle. From there, the team of Al Maha resort shall pick you up and take you to the actual resort. The luxury collection resort is 5 kilometers away and you will see many desert animals comfortably loitering around. You will be received in truly Arabic style with Arabic Coffee called “Kawa” and dates. The rooms are aptly styled as Bedouin Suite, Emirates Suites, and Royal Suites. Each suite has an on-suite private swimming pool, fantastic décor including and water bodies. The rooms are big and airy and each room gives you a view of verdant dunes that starts from where the greenery ends. You may find gazelles and Oryx just outside your room. You have the option to dine inside or outside, by your own pool. The night at Al Maha Resort is a completely different feel. The sky above is carpeted with stars that you would not have seen in a very long time. The silence of the night invites you to a very good sleep.
During the day time, you have various activities;
- Falconry — Falconry is the oldest sport of the Arab peninsula. It involves such activities as “Birds of Prey”, in which falcons catch various preys at the command of these masters. The vigor, strength, and loyalty of the falcons and mastery of Bedouins in controlling them will be shown to you during Falconry.
- Nature walk — In case you thought that desert is only about the rolling dunes, then you are in for a shock. Desert has a lot of life and very many hidden secrets. Ask for a guide, get your binoculars (each room has been given a pair of binoculars), and enjoy a good acquaintance with Dubai Desert secrets.
- Ghaf tree-walk — Ghaf trees have been chosen as the emblem for the year of tolerance by the UAE government and there is a reason behind it. This is one of few trees that can survive the arid desert conditions of a desert as they bury their roots very deep inside the earth for their water requirements. You may call for a guide to take you to a ghaf tree grove and have a relaxing cup of tea amidst the greenery. These ghaf trees are also part of conservation efforts.
- Horse riding — If you are a keen rider and know how to control them, then you may opt for a day out among the dunes on the back of majestic Arabian Horse. These are built for endurance racing and you will not have any problem riding on them. They are also trained to get you back safely to the resort.
- Desert drive — Well! No desert experience is complete without a desert dune bashing on a mighty 4 x 4 cruisers. You can go for a desert safari with a driver from Al Maha Resort. He would take your car on the dunes, side of dunes, and down the dunes. A lot of sand would splash on your windshield but do not worry, it is part of the show. Lasting 2 hours, you would be back to the resort for evening tea/
- Wildlife drive — If nature is your call then take a guide from Al Maha Resort and chase desert oryx in your air-conditioned 4 x 4. The driver cum guide is also a true nature expert and would explain to you all that is happening in this conservatory. It is a good edutainment for all your family members.
- Camel trek — A sundowner on a camel safari. That is only possible in Al Maha Resort. Call for a camel and go for a 20 minutes camel safari. The camels are well trained and the safari will take you to dunes just the sunset time and you can toast the sunset with sundowner champagne. You may also go for a sundowner trip into dunes on 4 x 4 of Al Maha Resort, though we would recommend you to take camel as it is not only more fun but also more ecofriendly.
- Archery — Archery was one of the key strengths of Arabs when they were out conquering the world. You may practice your archery skills under a trained archer until you get some mastery or at least have enough muscle stretch. End it with a certification (we are just joking here!)
Experience – Dining
The centerpiece of the AL Maha dining experience is Al Dewan. It is fine dining at its best. It’s a fresco dining experience giving a panoramic view of the desert with its unique animal flora and fauna. There is also a telescope in case you get itchier to see what lies far into the wild. The sophisticated dining experience comes with an upper deck where you get exciting cocktails, mocktails, and other beverages. The fine dining of Al Dewan serves up international and indigenous delicacies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The dress code is prescribed in Al Dewan as smart and casual and no loafers and shorts etc. are allowed.
You can also opt for a variety of dining options including deck dining, dune dining, and in-suite dining. For dune dining, the Al Maha The resort will create a romantic dining experience by setting up tables, candles, and drapes.
Al Hajar Terrace Bar – On the terrace of Al Maha Resort, there is a quaint bar that overlooks Haja Mountain Massif. You will be served chilled beer and a variety of other beverages on this beautiful terrace and for every drink you buy, one more comes free.
When you go to a resort, you have fitness in your mind all the time. Al Maha Resort has a Timeless Spa for your rejuvenation needs. It has massage and skincare experts from all over the world, who would take care of your holistic treatment with the signature products of the Timeless Spa under the holistic setting. The spa caters to both men and women. The products are world-class and made from only natural herbs. A day in the spa will make you rejuvenated and energized to take on your next corporate challenge.
There is a fitness center and trainers for you to use its state-of-the-art fitness equipment.
Al Maha Luxury Collection Desert Resort is located on Dubai Al-Ain Road and around 65 kilometers from Dubai International Airport. You will go up to the desert conservatory by your own vehicle and from there the resort team would pick you in their own vehicle. However, if you have driven in your electric vehicle then you can drive up to the resort and get free parking too.