The clock on the wall reads 11:33 PM. My mind is racing and I still can’t wrap my head around the “big” plans for my birthday. After watching the movie Tammy, for the 100th time, I had a brilliant idea – any takers for a cross country road trip throughout the 7 Emirates?
(Tammy synopsis: a woman loses her job and realizes that her husband has been adulterous. She then hits the road with her alcoholic grandmother to visit Niagara Falls.)
This may be the last thing on your mind while living in or visiting the UAE, but do realize that the country has more to offer than just tall buildings and shopping in Dubai. I’m approaching my 4th year living in the desert and there’s a lot left to be discovered. Below are my personal tips on planning an epic journey throughout the UAE.
Find a Theme
Firstly, identify the purpose of your road trip. Will it be experiential? Pure luxury? Are you looking for unique cultural experiences? A little bit of everything? It’s important to clearly define your parameters. There’s so many exciting places to visit within the UAE, and many of them exist outside of Dubai (yes, you read that correctly!). The remaining six Emirates (Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah) all have unique stories waiting to be told. On the eve of my 32nd birthday, I began my cross country road trip governed by the following themes:
Exploring Local Heritage & Traditions – Unique Experiences Beyond Dubai’s Skyscrapers – Luxury is a Must! – Local Experiences w/ Local Friends
Bigger is Always Better
The bigger the car, the better. Having a sturdy car is crucial especially if you’re driving in certain areas for the first time or if you expect to cross any rough terrains throughout your journey. For the UAE luxury car enthusiast, trade in your fancy Porsche for something more durable for the long haul.
The Company You Keep
Bring along engaged and fun people! They will serve as your back-up drivers, your in car karaoke back-up singers and your partners in crime for all the adventures ahead. This is important. If this isn’t possible, go alone. Let this be your self-care escape from the city type of road trip.
Preparation is Key
I’m a Virgo, we plan everything… every single detail – the type of car, your journey fully mapped out, expected fuel consumption and toll charges, snacks for the road (and late nights in the event the hotel or tent does not have 24-hour room service), alcohol (some hotels in the UAE are “dry” and will not serve adult beverages), movies, a throwback playlist… the list goes on. Be prepared!
Where to Go
The options are endless. Below is the route I took and the stops along the way.
Dubai to Abu Dhabi
Location: Telal Resort in Zaman Lawal Village (Al Ain) | Theme: Exploring a Unique Emirati Lifestyle
Zaman Lawal is an Emirati expression that translate to “old time.” Telal Resort is a traditional Emirati holistic desert resort overlooking a natural conservation of rare plants and gazelles as well as other wild life.
Al Ain to Ruwais
Location: Sir Bani Yas Island | Theme: Barasti Beachside Luxury
Sir Bani Yas Al Yamm is a rustic beachfront sanctuary reminiscent of an Emirati fishing village with beach side barastis overlooking the mangroves and the Arabian Gulf.
Sir Bani Yas Island to Dubai
Location: Dar Al Masyaf, Madinat Jumeirah | Theme: Local Experiences w/ Local Friends
Before heading to my Birthday dinner, I checked into an Arabian inspired summer house at the floating Dar Al Masyaf villas.
Dubai to Sharjah
Location: Al Bait Luxury Collection | Theme: A Warm Welcome Home
Literally translated as “The Home”, Al Bait Sharjah is a unique collection of four heritage houses once owned by local families who made an impact culturally, intellectually and politically on Sharjah’s history.
Traveling Further Into Sharjah
Have you ever been to a buried village? It’s quite the experience!
Just a Little Bit Further into Sharjah
Location: Kingfisher Lodge | Theme: Nature’s Retreat
Experience the ultimate glamping retreat in a luxed out private tent on the east coast of Sharjah.
A Pit Stop in Umm Al Quwain
On the way to Ras Al Khaimah, visit the abandoned Russian cargo plane. Why is it there? Good freaking question!
Umm Al Quwain to Ras Al Khaimah
Location: Ritz Carlton Al Wadi | Theme: An Arabian Adventure
The Beauty of the Arabian desert has been a secret of the Bedouins for thousands of years and the Ritz Carlton Al Wadi is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the Arabian lifestyle. In between your Arabian adventures, carve time out for the Rainforest at the Ritz. The Rainforest combines European hydro-thermal culture with Middle Eastern bathing rituals. The experience includes 16 different stations, in a hot-cold sequence.
Ras Al Khaimah to Hatta
Location: Sedr Trailers | Theme: Luxury in the Trailer Park
Think re-purposed trailers instead of sleeping bags; mood lights instead of flashlights; charming views instead of bush. My camping days are far gone… I’d rather be glamping! Sedr Trailers offers a unique take on camping via re-purposed boutique trailers!
As with most things we do in life – have fun, keep an open mind and live in the moment!