Dubai, a leading culinary destination with 11 Michelin-starred restaurants, offers exceptional dining experiences from water to sky. However, there is one exquisite meal that stands out due to its extreme location: in the middle of the desert.
Although there are many options for dining in the desert near Morocco and Abu Dhabi: Sonara Camp is one of the most extraordinary in Dubai. Located in the middle of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, also known as the heart of the Arabian desert, the "restaurant" is much more than just a temporary location in a beautiful landscape of sand dunes. It's a night full of activities for all ages in one of the most picturesque areas in the world.
The experience begins with a winding jeep ride through the dunes of sand . . , which takes guests to the upper camp, where the tents are set up with large sofas and lounge chairs designed for watching the sunset. In the two hours before sunset, a waiter serves drinks and appetizers such as marinated tuna mini tacos, smoked salmon blinis and wood-fired burrata pizzas.
Up a When I recently traveled to Camp Sonara with my family, the evening continued with activities such as sandboarding, gentle archery (it's a suction cup instead of an arrow), volleyball and camel riding. Of course, my four-year-old loved playing in the sand with the other kids, for whom the field was like a giant sandbox. The team also organizes a sunset photography session for each group.
As night falls, we climb the dune to a private table under a tent with twinkling lights, where a family feast of grilled chicken awaited us marinated. with peri-peri spices, grilled seasoned beef fillet in spicy red chimichurri sauce and the typical madfoon (lamb cooked for seven hours with Yemenite spices).
While we were eating, Cirque du Soleil-style artists appeared on the stage set up in the center. There was a fire eater, a man who defied gravity with his balancing abilities, a fire dancer, and more. Children can join in the adult entertainment or relax in the dedicated area, which offers a buffet of mini Wagyu beef sandwiches, toys and an outdoor cinema.
Desserts such as yuzu and raspberry ice cream with almond tuile and homemade marshmallows completed the evening. Once the fun and dinner were over, we headed back to the garage in the Jeep, marking the end of one of the most unique family meals we've ever had.
If dinner theater isn't your thing, visitors can opt for the Upper Camp, sunset only or even an overnight option. Night called “The Nest”. ", where you can sleep in a luxury tent in the middle of the dunes.
Of course, if you prefer to stay in the city, Dubai is full of unique and extraordinary things. The city is home to Ossiano, a Michelin-starred underwater restaurant at the Atlantis Palm Hotel. You can also dine at the world's tallest restaurant, At.mosphere, located 1,450 feet above the ground in the Burj Khalifa. Ain Restaurant In Dubai (currently closed for construction renovation), you will be able to enjoy your dinner on the tallest wheel in the world.
Discover Dubai's best desert dining experiences
1. Enjoy a Bedouin feast
Take a break from the bright lights of Dubai and travel by camel to an authentic desert camp in the heart of the protected Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. Platinum Heritage goes a step further by recreating a traditional Bedouin camp, whilst offering five-star facilities and first-class service. The luxury travel group also offers a variety of packages to choose from, including overnight camping, a feast of Arabic dishes, and the opportunity to learn Bedouin cooking techniques.
2. Admire the serene landscapes
Arabian Adventures is known for its exciting activities and desert safaris for the whole family and also offers a selection of desert camp tours. Breakfast on the dunes is a good option if you want to reconnect with nature, while the evening barbecue is ideal if you prefer a cultural touch. As the sun sets and the fire crackles, a variety of grilled meats and classic fresh mezze (such as hummus and kibbeh) are served.
3. Unwind in a secluded spot
Al Maha, a lush oasis in the heart of the desert, captures your imagination with its Bedouin-inspired style and service. The restaurants are equally charming. Al Diwaan Terrace offers an extensive Arabic and international menu and spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding beaches. For an even more special meal, the Dune Dining experience takes you to secluded, pristine sand slopes where your table (complete with white tablecloths, silverware and giant torches) awaits you for the ultimate private dining experience.
4. Sample some eco-luxury
A 30-minute drive from central Dubai, Sonara Camp offers an elegant and relaxed atmosphere with hammocks, comfortable seating areas and twinkling lights. Plenty of themed entertainment complements an excellent gourmet menu that includes dishes such as creamy vegetable risotto and roasted lamb chops. From archery to shooting demonstrations to an interactive falcon show, there's something for all ages and tastes. The eco-camp is located in the heart of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, so you will also have the opportunity to spot local wildlife such as oryx and gazelle.
5. Mix glitz and global flavours
For an unforgettable meal in a breathtaking desert landscape, look no further than Terra Solis. Created by the Tomorrowland dance festival, this exclusive glamping site offers a unique retreat for those looking to recharge their batteries. Dine at Mesa, which offers a Mediterranean menu with international flavors to share. The restaurant uses ingredients sourced from local farmers and can be enjoyed indoors or outdoors overlooking the pool. This 35,000 square meter destination in southern Dubai features 48 luxury tents, 20 lodges and six poolside cabanas, offering plenty of tempting post-lunch bedtime options.