Qasr al Sarab

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Seeing this stunning hotel emerge from the shimmering, flame-coloured dunes of the majestic Empty Quarter is like witnessing an illustration from the fairytale One Thousand and One Nights come to life. Like a mirage that seemingly appears out of nowhere, the luxury Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara is a plush oasis just 200km from Abu Dhabi city.

The Empty Quarter, also known as the Rub’ al Khali, is the world’s largest uninterrupted sand mass, and Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara reflects the region’s ancient cultural traditions, welcoming adventurers of all ages with warm Arabian hospitality. From families seeking new sights and solo travellers looking for action in a unique, ever-changing landscape, to couples searching for a romantic escape, this luxe resort offers everything you need to create a dream holiday.

Use the hotel as your base and discover the Rub’ al Khali by camel or fat-tyre bike (a bicycle with 4.8-inch-wide tyres that can be deflated to tackle enormous dunes), sandboard down giant golden slopes, try your hand at archery or mountain bike through incredible scenery.

If something gentler is more suited to you, you can enjoy dawn desert walks, sample international or traditional Emirati dishes under starry skies, or unwind in a luxurious hammam replete with desert-rose infused treatments.

Twice-daily falcon and Arabian Saluki (desert hunting dog) shows celebrate traditional Saluki hunting and the ancient sport of falconry, both of which have been practised for thousands of years in the UAE. This cultural experience sees four falcons going through their paces, ‘swooping’ for tempting prey, with a Saluki pair − made up of Reesha (which means feather) and Raddad (which means defender) − racing for bait.

Falcons are a cultural symbol of the UAE, thanks in part to their skill and characterful personalities. In fact, falcons and falconry have been connected to Emirati culture for centuries.

This bird of prey played a vital role in Bedouins’ (nomadic Arab people) lives, with falcons hunting Bustard and Curlew birds and other animals for food.

Salukis, meanwhile, are known for their incredible speed (up to 75km/h), intelligence and stamina – traits that make them the perfect hunting companions. One of the world’s oldest dog breeds, Salukis historically travelled throughout the Middle East and along the Silk Route with caravans and nomadic tribes.