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Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve is the largest protected area in Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: If you are looking for a place in Dubai where you can explore native wildlife, ride your bike on one of the longest cycling tracks, go dune bashing or set up a family picnic, you should add Al Marmoom to your weekend to-do list.

Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve is open to the public, and you can also explore the larger Al Marmoom desert area for free, which includes the Al Qudra lakes and cycling track.

How do I reach Al Marmoom?

The Al Marmoom area is only accessible by car, and you would need to do a little bit of off-roading if you wish to reach the popular spots like the Al Qudra lakes or the conservation reserve.

You can take any of the following roads in Dubai to get to the Al Marmoom desert area:

1. D63 Al Qudra Road – This road takes the visitors directly to the Al Qudra lakes.
2. E611 Emirates Road - The area will fall on your left, after you drive past the interchange crossing E77, in the direction of Dubai to Abu Dhabi.
3. E77 Jebel Ali Lehbab Road – The area will fall on your right, after you drive past the interchange crossing E611, in the direction of Dubai city centre, towards Expo.
4. E75 Al Fayah Road – The area will fall on your left, after you cross Exit 79, driving from Dubai city centre.
5. E66 Dubai Al Ain Road – The area will fall on your right, after you pass Dubai Rugby Sevens, in the direction of Dubai to Al Ain.

If you are using a navigation app, you can directly enter the coordinates for Al Marmoom, which are ‘R63X+5HV – Dubai’ for Al Marmoom Conservation Reserve or ‘R9V2+XMJ - Al Qudra Rd – Dubai’ for Al Qudra Lakes.

How to explore Al Marmoom

When you enter Al Marmoom, a trail with signs will guide your journey and show you directions to the lakes. Al Marmoom comprises of many lakes, where you can set a picnic or tent. However, you will need to drive off-road to access the lakes.

Lakes located in Al Marmoom
• Al Qudra Lake
• Love Lake
• Expo Lake
• Crescent Moon Lake
• Flamingo Lake

Three free activities in the Al Marmoom desert

1. Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve

The reserve is free, and is an unfenced desert sanctuary. It houses the largest population of Arabian oryx in Dubai. The area has plenty of desert flora and fauna, which includes local wildlife such as the Sand Gazelle (Reem in Arabic), Arabian Gazelle (Aldmani in Arabic) and a diverse range of bird and reptile species.

Dubai Municipality has built eight bird hides at the reserve for bird watching, which are usually located near the lakes. From the bird hides you can get a closer view of over 200 different migratory and local bird species that are present in Al Marmoom. If you want to catch a glimpse of the Arabian Oryx, there is an Oryx Platform, which is a viewing point near the Expo Lake in Al Marmoom.

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Gazelles at the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives.

2. Al Qudra cycling track

This cycling track is 80.6km in length and is the ‘longest continuous cycling path in the World’, according to the Guinness World Records.

According to Visit Dubai, the cycling track is open 24x7 and connects the Al Barari area with Bab Al Shams through Al Qudra road. The track is also beginner friendly because it is flat and vehicle free.

The continuous cycling track runs across the Al Qudra area and has sub-tracks, which make the complete track length go up to 135km.

Even though the track is open 24x7, it is recommended to go during the day, since some parts of the track is not illuminated by street lamps.

The track is also equipped with phone booths for emergency calls at over 30 points, in addition to rest stops, washrooms and also ‘Last Exit - Al Qudra’, which is an area for food trucks and restaurants.

Al Qudra cycling track
In November 2022, Al Qudra Cycling Track was named the 'longest continuous cycling path' by Guinness World Records. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

3. Al Qudra Lakes

The lakes are one of the most popular spots for residents and visitors during sunrise and sunsets. You can also have a picnic or barbecue in the area. However, you must bring your own equipment and clean up afterwards.

However, it is important to follow safety procedures when you set up a barbecue. You can read a detailed guide here.

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Al Qudra lake, a man-made lake located in Al Marmoom. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News