- What you need to know about camping
- How to avoid a fire in camps
- What kind of camping equipment do you need?
- Where can you camp in the UAE?
- What are the Do's and Don’ts?
- Camping with COVID-19 guidelines
Dubai: The smell of a campfire, the view of the stars and the amazing weather, are a few reasons why many UAE residents are getting out of the city on the weekends to go camping. But, there’s a lot you need to know before planning a trip out in nature, especially if you want to follow COVID-19 guidelines.
Camping is a popular weekend pastime for many in the UAE, with the current cooler temperatures and plenty of beautiful locations a natural draw. But, before going on a camping trip for a weekend getaway with family and friends, it is important to make a check list of all the essentials you may need, as well as ensuring that all the camping equipment meets safety standards. But the to-do-list does not stop there and once you hit base, it is vital to take all the necessary safety precautions to ensure you have a safe camping trip.
The official winter camping season started in October and lasts until the end of April, so you still have some time to enjoy the great weather in the UAE.
What you need to know about weekend camping
According to the Public Health and Safety Department at Dubai Municipality, a number of guidelines concerning camping outdoors are in place to ensure that campers are safe.
These guidelines are there to ensure a safe camping experience give advice on how tents should be set up in safe areas, and how tents and generators are used in a safe manner, and states how to use fires and grills safely.
Choosing your site to set up the tent
According to Dubai Municipality, your camp site should not be in low areas such as stream valleys, or next to a cliff, and the tent site should also not be set up at the base of a cliff.
Tents should be set up far away from cooking stations or where wood is burned, and be a safe distance from fuel depots, fuel storage tanks, generators and electricity poles.
The guidelines also state that tents should be in high areas far enough from water tide levels.
Campers are also advised to avoid mud floors which may be infested with scorpions, ants and other insects. Use flat lands that are free of stones and potholes to avoid creating a moist environment in the tent. The guidelines further stress avoiding shallow or semi-marsh areas in which water may appear as a result of a rise in sea-level.
Safety and health guidance related to tent specifications:
Tents should be made from non-flammable and non-absorbent materials that are equipped with the essential ventilation holes to allow proper ventilation.
Tents must be set up tightly so as not to fall or fly away in the event of strong winds, and ropes must be kept in a length that is safe and will not cause people to trip and fall.
Safety and health requirements for generators:
The person responsible for operating the electric generator should have it periodically maintained and use the appropriate adapters, and place the generator properly to avoid leakage of exhaust gases into the tent as a result of the direction of the wind.
If children are present, a safe barrier should be set up to prevent their exposure to the generator and the fuel.
Health and safety instructions relating to fire, grilling, and heating operations:
Firewood must be stored away from the tent by a minimum of 15 feet in normal situations.
The burner stove must be in a safe location compared to the tent; so that the direction of the wind is towards the fireplace and not the tent, and the burner should be surrounded by a barrier, such as sand or stone.
The municipal guidelines also state that burning coal should not be left unattended at night as it can cause a fire hazard.
How to avoid a fire in camps
All light sources and lanterns should be kept at least 50 centimetres away from the tent.
Do not use heated equipment, such as barbeques and coal, inside the tent.
Ensure a fire extinguisher is available nearby or inside the tent.
Do not use open flames, such as candles or lighters, inside the tent.
Firewood must be stored away from the tent by a minimum of 15 feet at any given time.
Other safety instructions
Use a suitable four-wheel-drive car for easy movement and carry all the required maintenance tools to aid you in the event of any damage to the tyres. Above all, learn how to change a tyre before heading out on a camping trip.
Do not drive into valleys when it is raining and always pay attention to the road.
Avoid throwing waste in unhealthy and unsafe ways as it attracts insects and creates an unhealthy environment.
Avoid pouring water in small burrows, which can push scorpions out and other harmful insects, and take precaution when lifting rocks as you do not know what kind of harmful animals or insects may be hidden nearby.
Protect yourself and your neighbors from COVID-19
Limit the capacity in vehicles (maximum 3 people per vehicle, who are unrelated)
Don’t share food, phones, utensils and other commonly shared items.
Use only disposable eating utensils will be used
As much as possible, wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
Use hand sanitizer when possible, rubbing it through fingers – do not wipe it off.
Refrain from touching your nose, mouth or eyes.
Only use your own linens when overnight camping
Maintain a two to three meter distance from everyone else at the campsite.
Do I need permission before I go camping?
According to Dubai Municipality weekend, campers do not require prior permission to pitch tents in the desert.
There are however certain rules to longterm camping trips. Those who go camping for longer durations are required to pay a fee and obtain permission.
If you are going only for one or two days you do not need permission, but those who stay in the desert for long periods need to get approval.
Make sure you follow the law of the Dubai Municipality regarding provisions regulating the temporary uses of desert land as provided in the Local Order No. 2 of 1999, and the administrative decision No. 310 of 2008.
The camps must be made from “temporary materials” that can be completely dismantled and removed at the end of the permit.
However, those camping for only a few days can continue to pitch tent anywhere in the desert, said Jaber Al Ali, head of the municipality’s inspection section. They don’t need permits and are not liable to pay a security deposit or fees for camping.
Dubai Municipality announced that it will allow camping with caravans on the Jebel Ali beach, subject to obtaining a prior permit for a period of 30 days through the Municipality’s website.
The Municipality confirmed that the permit issuing service is free of cost and only requires to provide a valid copy of the ownership of the caravan or trailer and a copy of the Emirates ID or passport (for visitors).
Dubai Municipality clarified that the beach currently designated for this activity in the emirate is the beach in the Jebel Ali area with Makani number 0001864652. Once the applicant enters the necessary data and documents online, the permit is issued immediately and directly, which allows the holder to camp in the specified location for 30 days.
Things to consider
Be considerate towards others in the region and be wary of venturing out into a private property. Make sure you are not camping on someone else’s private beach or farm and seek prior consent.
Charge your mobile and carry power banks at all times, so you are never disconnected. 999 is the number to call for all kinds of emergencies in the UAE, even for off-road rescue services in any emirate.
Don’t pitch your tents at the base of a dune or anywhere near it. This puts you at risk of getting run over by onrushing off-roaders who may not be aware of what’s going on behind the dune they are climbing.
Ensure car is serviced and in good condition. Also check tyre pressure and fluid levels.
Food is such an important part pf any camping trip. Nothing tastes better than eating what you made on a campfire.
It’s important to plan your meals ahead of time and bring a lot of stuff that may not be heated like bread rolls or canned foods. Once you’ve planned your meals create an ingredient list. Then, only pack those ingredients. It is best to pack ingredients in reusable containers, rather than disposable plastic.
It is also smart to pre-cook, then reheat once you are at the campsite.
Just remember that when you are storing certain ingredients like meat or dairy. You have to make sure they are kept at the correct temperature in order for it not to get spoiled. The last thing you need is a case of food poisoning in the middle of desert or the wadi.
Taking precautions against fires and carbon monoxide inhalation is also very crucial. People must avoid cooking inside tents as it might cause a fire or carbon monoxide inhalation and subsequent hazards, he said.
Another undesirable practice is keeping raw meats, fruits and vegetables and other cooked foods together, without separating them. Not storing easily perishable foods like raw meat, poultry, fish and egg in an icebox is also a cause for worry, he said.
Salt and pepper as well as any other seasonings.
Sugar or a sweetener
Coffee and tea bags
Powdered creamer: It's a good idea to ensure it is powered, as it doesn’t require refrigeration.
Condiments like ketchup, mustard and BBQ sauce
Hot dogs: These are already precooked.
Burger patties: Easy and they take no time at all.
Fresh fruit: Consider bringing fruits like bananas and oranges, as they don't require refrigeration.
Drinking water: Confirm that where you are camping has potable water for your use. If they do, you can bring your own water bottles and fill them on site. If they don't, then bring enough bottled water per person / per day.
Granola bars: Great for snacking and are non-perishable
Marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolte to make s'mores
Sheets and sleeping bags
Blow-up mattress and pillows
Firewood, grills and stove top kettle
Barbecue set and tin foil
Charcoal and matches
Tissues and wipes
Maps and GPS (when off-roading)
Cool Box and ice
Water- for drinking and washing
Torch or flashlight
First Aid Kit
It is important that your first aid kit has all the neccessary items. These include:
Antiseptic spray or wipes for wounds
Latex gloves to be used for any first aid treatment
Tweezers for removing splinters
Paracetamol: It is very important to have a basic pain reliever or fever reducer
Cleaning up after yourself
Respect the UAE's natural beauty by cleaning up as you go along; repackage any leftover food, and bring a stash of trash bags that can be tied to the entrance of your tent in order to throw garbage away. When packing away at the end of your trip, put someone in charge of a final litter sweep.
Since October, 2020, when the ourdoor season started in the UAE, Dubai Municipality has began implementing a comprehensive work program to ensure the cleanliness of desert and mountainous areas in the Emirate.
Since the beginning of the desert trips season, Dubai Municipality commenced the implementation of work program, follow-up and awareness programs in all desert and rural areas, such as Al Qudra Street extension, Al Ruwaiya-3 area, Al-Warsan-2 and 3, Margham Street, tourist locations in Hatta, Al Qudra Lakes, Love Lakes, the area behind defense camp in Al Aweer, Lehbab-2 area, Tripoli Street, Wadi Al Amardi area, Wadi Al Shabak, Emirates Road, Amman Street in Al Khawaneej, Al Tayy area and all other open land areas in the emirate.
The implementation of the field awareness program has also been started for those visiting the desert areas in Al Ruwaya and Al Qudra Lakes. There will be a regular program for these visitors, and we are trying to use drones in audio awareness operations for the public in hard-to-reach areas and to cover larger areas to optimize the use of this technology in the field of awareness.
1. Bring a large 5 gallon water bottle with a pump, rather than boxes of small water bottles. That's much less trssh to worry about.
2. Bring a large trash bag with you, which you can throw everything away into it
3. If you had to change tyres or damaged your bumpers, take them home with you. Any spare tyre left behind, aside from being very unsightly, can also provide a trap for small animals. Rubber tyres will stay there for years. But the high temperature in the desert can cause it to burn and turn into toxic oil.
4. Veer away from unfamiliar tracks or places with natural vegetation. You don't want to destroy untouched spots.
What are the Do’s and Don’ts?
Do bring lots of garbage bags. In addition to cleaning up after yourself, sometimes the bags come in handy for your own things. Dubai Municipality also pointed out that residents who dump their rubbish in the desert and set up fires in public places will be slapped with a Dh500 fine.
Do bring warm clothes. The dessert has a reputation for being ‘a hot place’ it can get very cold enough in the desert cannot only make or break your camping experience, it could also prove to be dangerous if you aren’t bundled up enough.
Don’t go barefoot. Keep your feet warm and covered during your camping trip.
Don't take glass and don’t use glass bottles. Always use reusable containers. Some people take glass and it breaks, and you get shards on the ground.
Do bring a head torch so that when you’re cooking, both your hands are free and you’re less likely to burn yourself.
Do plan where you place your barbecue to avoid any mishaps. Cooking beside the fire might not be the best idea Don’t bury the barbecue after you finish cooking right away. The sand can get boiling hot and people often burn themselves from stepping on that area or sitting there. So wait until it has cooled down.
Do bring a lot of firewood. It’s for the ambience, for light and for warmth. But, mainly for ambience because people usually gather around fires. It is a social setting.
Never hunt for animals in the wildlife. It is not allowed and it is a criminal offence to do so. It is also prohibited to remove sand and big trees, but if residents want to take small plants then there is no problem with that.
Always leave your campsite cleaner than how you found it. Respect that this is a sanctuary and leave it the way it is.
Where can you camp in the UAE?
Getting there: Take Al Awir Road/E44 and then Dubai-Hatta Road/Ras Al Khor Road to your destination in Lahbab.
What to expect: Known for its spectacular red sands, Lahbab is a popular night-time haunt for new campers. Many start off close to the familiar Fossil Rock that’s also a great place for star gazing. A barbecue in this weather is the best thing to do while attempting the ‘Big Red’, a 300-foot high sand dune, is a dune basher’s delight. You could also head over to the sleepy village of Madam just before the Hatta border crossing for more camping spots where you may have some wandering camels from local farms for company.
Ras Al Khaimah desert
Getting there: Head towards Ras Al Khaimah on Mohammad Bin Zayed Road.
What to expect: You could either camp near the farms or explore the stunning dunes of Ras Al Khaimah. A great incentive of camping overnight is the region’s flora and fauna. Besides banyan, palm and ghaf trees lining up the desert, you won’t struggle to spot native animals like the Arabian oryx. Many wild birds, some migrating from cooler regions this time of the year, are a regular feature. However do take note that it’s seriously off-road and in the middle of nowhere and ample food and drink along with other essentials is a must for overnighters.
The Rubh Al Khali
Getting there: Follow Dubai - Ghweifat International Highway, Abu Dhabi -Tarif Road/E11 and E45 to Hameem Road
What to expect: Part of the larger Arabian Desert, the Rubh Al Khali or Empty Quarter is the largest contiguous sand desert in the world, covering some 650,000 square kilometres across parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE, and Yemen. The stunning Liwa Oasis is at the heart of it all and many say is the site that provides the ultimate desert camping experience. For a first-timer venturing into the desert it is advisable to have at least a couple of cars and an experienced guide for company.
Getting there: Hit Mohammad Bin Zayed Road heading north and then get on to Al Dhaid Road (E88) in the direction of Masafi.
What to expect: Start off at Al Hala, a village in the foothills of the Hajar Mountains where there’s Wadi Taybah, not far from the village of Al Taybah. Drive through to Masafi, UAE’s version of Évian-les-Bains, famous for its spring water. There’s also a Friday market that actually opens every day. You could camp anywhere en route to the mountains. The picturesque Wadi Wurayah is about an hour’s drive from Masafi, not far from the foothills of the Hajar Mountains. Roughly 20km off the Khor Fakkan beach, the rocky terrain of the region will take you down winding ravines, leading you to serene waterfalls.
Jabal Al Jais
Getting there: Take Shaikh Mohammad Bin Salem Road/E11 in Al Riffa and then Khuzam Road
What to expect: Stunningly beautiful mountainscape with naturally scultped rocks will take your breath away on your way up to Jebal Al Jais, the UAE’s tallest mountain. With temperatures recorded as low as -3 degrees Celsius (in January 2009 when the enitre mountain cluster was covered in snow), it is also amongst the coolest places in the country, often making ovenight stays here a bone-chilling affair.
Umm Al Quwain beach
Getting there: Take Mohammad Bin Zayed Road north towards Ajman, and take Dreamland Waterpark exit.
What to expect: The beaches are a perfect gateway even for a daytime trip or a night-time barbecue. For more fun, you could also visit the old fishing villages along the peninsula at Al Raas where you may spot flamingos and other wild birds. Some adventure seekers even go as far as exploring the mangroves along the coast on a kayak. If a beach is what you want, there are plenty in the eastern coast of Fujairah as well. A popular destination is the quaint little town of Dibbah on the east coast entry point to the Mussandam Peninsula.
Outdoor enthusiasts who want to truly be one with nature can explore the landscapes of Hatta from the comfort of their own caravan - or tent. The Grounds are the perfect spot to get a unique take on the surrounding national park.
UAE’s outdoor explorers can park their cars next to their camping site, allowing easy access in and out of the Grounds. Barbecue areas are installed in the vicinity, guests looking to get a bite to eat without cooking can head down to the food trucks located at the Hatta Wadi Hub.
Price: Tents Dh129 Weekdays, Dh199 Weekends and Public Holidays
Note: Guests must bring their own tents
Price: Tents Dh299 Weekdays, Dh399 Weekends & Public Holidays
Note: Guests must bring their own Caravans
Banan Beach Resort
The new campsite is located at the ultra-peaceful Banan Beach Resort, a beachfront venue that is home to the most retro tents you’ll see, as well as beachside chalets and even hammocks by the water. The property is located in Jebel Ali, Dubai, near the Expo 2020 site. There are 47 camping tents sprawled across the beach and five beach side chalets with comfortable beds. Amenities like bathrooms, a BBQ station and Wi-Fi are available for everyone. There’s a lot to do there including dining, drinking, 12 different types of water activities, moonlight yoga and just plain relaxing by the shores. The beach-side chalets are available for those who don’t love sleeping on the floor. They start at around Dh1,000 per night and there's a little pool in each of them too! The golden shores and friendly environment make it such a relaxing place that will really take you away from the hectic Dubai city life.
Location Jebel Ali, Banan Beach Resort Cost Dh350 for a night in the tent, Starting from Dh1,000 for a night in the chalet