Arabian adventure in the Emirates desert

(ES Warehouse)

Ras al Khaimah is one of the lesser known emirates that together with six others make up the United Arab Emirates. As you leave the Burj Khalifa skyscraper slowly fading into the mist in your rear-view mirror, wave goodbye too to the hustle and bustle of Dubai, transported to a heavenly oasis of oryx, camels, starry skies and lapping infinity pools.

My heart rate slowed noticeably upon arriving at the Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert, located 500 hectares from the Al Wadi Nature Reserve. Cleverly spread out Bedouin-inspired tented villas – ours with its own eight-metre pool overlooking dry sand dunes and wildlife – provide privacy and tranquility. All reinforced in our case by three nights of being childless.

But unfortunately, we had a lot to sample in 54 hours, so after a quick swim and cooling down, it was time to get on the bikes right away and go aboard the falconry to watch the display of the majestic desert owl and harris hawk soaring over the landscape. A ruby ​​red sun was setting on the horizon, adding to the drama. It’s time to sample some of the culinary delights on offer and choose between the award-winning Farmhouse restaurant, which focuses on wild meat and home-grown vegetables, or the Moorish restaurant, with an exotic blend of flavors from Andalusia and Arabia.

    (ES Warehouse)

(ES Warehouse)

Complementing both evening dining venues is the Moon Bar, a secluded rooftop terrace with wide-open skies offering signature cocktails and traditional shishas. Be warned though: even after a hot day exploring the desert, you may need a blanket as the welcome dew cools the warm decks.

In addition to falconry, you can practice sports such as horse riding, archery and stargazing. There is also a spa offering an extensive list of treatments. The Rainforest Experience is a must – it rejuvenates soul, body and mind.

And if the heat of the desert is too much, just 20 minutes away is Al Wadi’s sister property, Al Hamra Beach, on the glistening coast of the Arabian Gulf.

    (ES Warehouse)

(ES Warehouse)

The sea breeze is a relief as we board the boat that takes us to the peninsula. An intimate collection of 32 villas await you on a secluded private beach. Another Bedouin inspired tented villa is our home, but no oryx here. Instead, a completely different world of lush vegetation, sea air and views of the Gulf. What doesn’t change between both properties is the attentiveness of the staff. Nothing is too much trouble. Here, we can kayak, paddle board, and fish before enjoying the beachdeck BBQ’s decadent seafood menu.

As the sun goes down again, not over the dunes but over the glistening sea, we reflect on the quieter, more romantic side of the UAE.

Al Wadi Desert, £487 per night; Al Hamra Beach, £756 a night (ritzcarlton.com)

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