off road desert driving
off road desert driving
off road desert driving

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Off-road desert driving

Abu Dhabi’s impressive desert dunes offer off-road driving enthusiasts a once-in-a-lifetime driving experience, but never go out into the desert alone. Ensure your car is fully serviced and insured for off-road use, and head off with at least three other four-wheel-drive vehicles. Pack enough water and food, a first-aid kit, and a spare tyre. If you've never driven off-road, you should first learn the ropes with one of the several tour companies in Abu Dhabi. Keep in mind that changing weather can drastically affect desert dunes. As such, the paths’ ratings listed below might change without notice. If a dune crossing looks more difficult than you expect, get out of your car and check if it’s alright. If not, explore other crossing options a few metres to the left or right.

The impressive dunes in the Empty Quarter (Rub’ al Khali), the largest uninterrupted sand mass on earth, offer motorheads an awesome driving experience. If you're in the UAE in the winter and you feel like a real-deal adventure, rent a four-wheel drive, find a group of eager drivers and set out for the sand. Ensure your car is fully serviced and insured for off-road use, and head off with at least three other four-wheel-drive vehicles. Pack enough water and food, a first aid kit, and a spare tyre. If you've never driven off-road, you should first learn the ropes with one of the several tour companies in Abu Dhabi.

A trip to the desert isn't complete without a night or two under the stars – and be prepared to experience some of the clearest night skies you’ve ever seen! Arrange a camping adventure with a tour company, or rent a four-wheel drive and buy the equipment yourself. Camping supplies are surprisingly affordable in Abu Dhabi, and there is no need to buy the most expensive equipment. In fact, you could probably buy a tent and two sleeping bags from a hypermarket for less than a guided tour. But never go out in the desert alone!

If you've caught the desert driving bug then we've prepared a few routes that you might want to try yourself!

Keep in mind that changing weather can drastically affect desert dunes. As such, the paths’ ratings listed below might change without notice. If a dune crossing looks more difficult than you expect, get out of your car and check if it’s alright. If not, explore other crossing options a few metres to the left or right.

Easy (67km)

Al Remah Route

Al Remah Route is great for beginner and advanced off-road drivers and takes about six to eight hours. The drive from the starting point to the Camel Farm Road is standard, but after the racing track it’s important to take a left out of the normal track, about 300m to 500m from the racing track. You decide what track you want to use from there. Take a look at our recommendations in the map pins below.

Al Remah Route
Easy (157km)

Al Ain To White Sands Route

This Liwa route is great for beginner and advanced off-road drivers and takes about four to eight hours. There are plenty of great remote camping spots in the centre section. Keep an eye out for gazelle in this middle area, too.

Al Ain To White Sands Route
Al Ain To White Sands Route

More info

  • Thirty per cent of the route is gatch track (improved sand road lightly overlaid with limestone)
  • Regularly driven by Bedu (local farmers), there are often tracks to follow
  • Can be done in reverse, however in some areas it will be more difficult
  • Be mindful of water pits, as the groundwater table is very close to the surface 
  • Look out for camels, including camels training for racing, usually later in the day and early morning

More info
Intermediate (55kms)

Hameem Loop Route

Due to technical terrain, this route may extend to 70km or even 80km when driven. Taking about four to five hours to complete, you’ll find some particularly tricky terrain in the second half.

Hameem Loop Route
Hameem Loop Route

More info

  • Expect slipfaces and deep bowls
  • Can’t be done in reverse
  • Sights include plenty of gazelle, an abandoned Nissan Patrol and solar power bank, and camel and goat farms

More info
Intermediate/Advanced (60km)

Umm Al Oush Route

This route is not recommended for beginners and takes about four to five hours to complete, with steep climbs, sharp drops, deep bowls and highly technical dunes. Don’t forget your camera; the sights are stunning.

Umm Al Oush Route
Umm Al Oush Route

More info

  • Advanced moves required, like side-sloping and side-cresting
  • Easier to tackle with a long wheel-based car that has a 2” lift
  • Can’t be done in reverse
  • Sights include enormous dunes, starfish dunes, and incredible scenery

More info
Advanced (109km)

Liwa Crossing Route

This is an advanced route with huge dunes, some of the largest in the UAE. There are some very tricky crossings and this remote route may take 1.5-2 days to complete. Make sure you take everything you need with you - early exit from this route is not possible.

Liwa Crossing Route
Liwa Crossing Route

More info

  • Advanced moves required, like side-sloping and side-cresting
  • Cars with small tanks should take extra petrol
  • Can be done in reverse but different lines need to be plotted to scale slipfaces
  • Sights include dunes, dunes and more dunes

More info
Advanced (45km)

Al Khazna Route

This advanced route takes three to four hours to complete, with steep climbs, sharp drops, deep bowls and highly technical dunes.

Al Khazna Route
Al Khazna Route

More info

  • Advanced manoeuvres required, like side-sloping and side-cresting
  • Easier to tackle with a long wheel-based car that has a 2” lift
  • Sights include massive dunes, starfish dunes, stunning landscapes, an oasis, a camping area and desert trees, a camel farm, and a desert safari company camp
  • You may follow routes from the start point (24°16'02.4"N 55°00'32.5"E) to the end point (24°22'51.2"N 55°23'18.0"E) and vice versa. Follow the pins between these locations for the stop point.

More info

Call the professionals

If you haven't been driving in the desert before or simply want some reassurance and practice before venturing out by yourself, then contact one of our trusted partners below who will be more than happy to help:


Capital Gate Tourism
Contact: Joy Sanchez
Mobile: 02 556 5543 or 00 971 56 366 5777
Email: [email protected]
Website: capitalgateta.ae


Emirates Tours & Safari LLC
Hotline/WhatsApp: 00 971 50 532 6837
Email: [email protected]


Turning Point Tourism LLC
Contact: Riddhi Lakhani
Mobile: 00 971 50 761 6513
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.turningpointdxb.com

While in the desert...