Al Qudra Lakes in the Dubai Desert

Visiting the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve

by Dubai Travel Planner

Dubai’s nature playground has plenty to offer in outdoor experiences and sustainable tourism in the UAE

Making up around 10% of the Dubai Emirate in the United Arab Emirates, Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve is one of the most exciting up-and-coming eco-tourism projects in Dubai.

Found to the southwest of Dubai city and incorporating many of the Dubai desert’s famous landmarks (some may know the area as Saih Al Salam desert), this unfenced nature reserve is set to become one of Dubai’s most prominent outdoor tourist attractions.

Whilst the area has long been accessible to the public, the Desert Conservation Reserve status was brought into place in 2018 to better manage leisure facilities and protect the desert environment.

Let’s take a look at what you can find exploring around Al Marmoon Desert Conservation Reserve and how you go about it.

Top things to see and do in Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve

The Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve is still a work in progress, with the intention on completion the area will house more than 20 environmental, cultural, and sports-related activities. Here’s just a taste of what you can already expect to find:

Wildlife spotting at Al Qudra Lakes

Set in amongst the rolling desert dunes, Al Qudra Lakes are a man-made attraction, built to attract native wildlife. Whilst the lakes themselves have been artificially created, the wildlife that has made itself at home in and around the lakes are all native species.

The series of lakes attract migratory birds as well as black swans, geese, ducks, and flamingoes – in fact, an incredible 204 native bird species and 158 migratory bird species are now calling this area home.

A number of animal and bird observation platforms have been built alongside the lakes to observe these creatures from a safe distance. The UAE’s largest concentration of Arabian Oryx also resides in the area around the lakes.

Migratory birds in the Al Qudra Lakes, Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve

Camping is permitted around the lakes, as is barbecuing with a grill or pot stove off the ground – no campfires are allowed to protect the desert environment.

Tip: Type in “The Nest” or “Falcon Oasis” to Google Maps to find the bird watching structures.

Entry to Al Qudra Lakes is free, open 24 hours a day.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take all litter home with you.

A romantic stroll at The Love Lake

An extension to Al Qudra Lakes is the see-it-to-believe it attraction of the Love Lake – or Love Lakes Dubai. Utterly instagrammable and easily accessible to the public, the Love Lake is the perfect desert location for a romantic stroll or family-friendly outing and picnic.

A rubber walking track runs nearly 7 kilometres around the circumference of the two intertwined love heart-shaped lakes. Although it’s difficult to see the love heart shape from ground level, there are plenty of “love” signs and insignia dotted around the park – a truly unique Dubai desert feature.

The Love Lake is 2WD accessible and open for free 24 hours.

Take a ride at Al Qudra Cycling Track

Hidden in the desert is an incredible 86km long asphalt cycling track (also known as Saih Al Salam Bicycle Track). One of the longest and best in the UAE you’ll find novices through to cycling athletes out on the track, best visited at dawn and dusk to beat the heat but catch the light.

Not got a bike? That’s OK as there are rental options from the Trek UAE bike shop, located at the end of Al Qudra Road. They offer 5 different styles of bikes including fat bikes and kids’ bikes. You do need to book well in advance though, especially on winter weekends they book out. Discounted rates apply on weekdays.

There are two starting points for the cycling track, both with car parks. There’s a 50km loop from the bike rental shop, as well as a 36km return track known as “The Stick” (accessible from near Arabian Ranches/Studio City), both very smooth rides with only a very gentle incline. Experienced riders can also try some newer extensions to the 50km loop.

Remember before driving out to the Al Qudra track:

  • No helmet = no ride. They can be booked along with your bike if renting or BYO with your own bike.
  • Restrooms are only available at the rental shop, not around the track.
  • There is very limited water around the track – take plenty with you.
  • Stick to the right, faster cyclist will pass you on the left.
  • Most of the 50km track is unlit, so night riders will require lights (and watch for wildlife!)

There is no entry fee to the track or the car parks, just the cost of your bike rental, if applicable.

Dine at The Last Exit

This street truck park is a foodie favourite, a real surprise hub of activity in this desert location. Offering many facilities for visitors to the Al Qudra Lakes and beyond, you’ll find petrol, restrooms and a food store here as well as a selection of food trucks.

The Last Exit is found at the end of the D63. There’s no public transport out here so you’ll need your own wheels or a taxi.

Learn more about the Last Exit Al Qudra here

Relax and sleep it off at Bab Al Shams

A touch of luxury in the desert, Bab Al Shams offers a wonderful luxury retreat who like to enjoy the desert experience with a few mod-cons to hand! Enjoy the beautiful infinity pool overlooking the desert, recline in the Satori Spa and dine at one of the half dozen food outlets on site.

Aerial view of Bab Al Shams Resort in Dubai

It’s thriving with activity particularly on weekends with a brunch and picnic lineup on offer in the winter months seeing many daycationers as well as staycationers enjoying this desert retreat.

>> Check pricing for a night at Bab Al Shams Resort & Spa here

Cheer on the action at Al Marmoom Camel Track

The Al Marmoom Camel Racing Track is one of the largest in the UAE. Camel racing season is over the winter months, you can check out the schedule of events at (use Google translate!), most races occur on the weekends.

camel racing in Dubai

It’s free to enter the Grandstands, with most racing happening early morning between 7:00 am to 9:00 am. Bring binoculars for viewing from the grandstand (there are now also large screens to view the action) and watch not only the stampeding hooves of camels ridden by remote-controlled jockeys but the thundering entourage of excited owners in 4x4s cheering on their charges.

For further information contact +971 (04) 832 6526

You can see all the best ways to have a camel encounter in Dubai here

Close up camel action at The Camel Farm

Where else in the world could you come for a little camel hug therapy? The charming Camel Farm is run by Viviane Paturel-Mazot, a French expat and camel-lover. Camels from the Sheikh Hamdan Heritage Centre are given a loving home between festival seasons where visitors can come to connect to these fascinating four-legged creatures.

Learn more about camels, enjoy camel rides and longer camel treks, a mini petting zoo for kids or simply come for an insightful camel farm tour.

>>Learn more and see pricing for the Camel Farm here

Step back in time at Al Marmoom Heritage Village

Home to an annual Heritage Festival held in the spring, this is the perfect opportunity for visitors and residents alike to learn more about the Bedouin culture. In addition to camel races, you will find food, handicrafts and traditional activities.

{NB, event not held in 2020 & 2021 due to COVID restrictions and doesn’t look like it will be returning, in the same format at least}.

Retrace history at an Archaeological site

The Saruq Al Hadid archaeological site, which dates back more than 3,000 years to the Iron Age, can be found within the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve. The site itself is not presently set up as a tourist attraction, most of the key finds from the site are now housed at Saruq Al Hadid Archaeology Museum in Al Shindagha historic district in the city.

Go star gazing in the desert

Another fabulous highlight of Al Marmoom is the ability to stargaze with crystal clear skies. Platinum Heritage offers customised tours that include stargazing sessions with astrology experts. Stay tuned we await more details about these programs and how you can book.

Stargazers should get in touch with Dubai Astronomy Group to learn more about Dubai’s best stargazing spots and organised events.

Admire the Mohammed Bin Rashid Solar Park

The reserve is also home to the region’s largest and newest renewable energy plant, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Solar Park. Not really a tourist attraction in and of itself yet, but a fascinating step forward for the country to renewable energy, part of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050.

The centrepiece DEWA Innovation Centre is sure to become one of Dubai’s most iconic landmark buildings, encouraging visitors into the desert to learn more about sustainable energy, as well as housing conference and seminar facilities and the DEWA Museum.

You can learn more about this fascinating part of the Dubai desert here:

How to get there and where to stay in and near Al Marmoon

You really need your own private vehicle or hire a car and drive to get out and properly explore all aspects of the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve. There is no Metro or bus service this far out of town and taxis may be reluctant to drive this far out.

Some private tour operators can assist with guided tours to Love Lake and surrounds:

As you can imagine, this far out from the city, your accommodation options are also limited, but the possibility of exploring the desert independently is extensive. Camping in Al Qudra is naturally the most popular option, or staying at the beautiful Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa, as detailed above

Find all nearby accommodation options here:

Is it free to enter Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve?

Entry into the desert area is unfenced and free. There are activities and services provided by third-party vendors that you can additionally pay for to enhance your experience.

Who manages Al Marmoom?

The Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve is managed by Dubai Municipality.

The Wildlife Officer’s contact number is +971(4) 606 6819.

Do I need a 4×4 for Al Marmoom?

Certain parts of Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve will require a 4WD, though most of the places we have listed here are 2WD accessible.

When is Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve open?

Being unfenced, there is no restriction on the time of day you can visit. Though given the heat in Dubai, most visitors will come early in the morning or late in the day for sunset.

Be mindful, nighttime in winter can be cold, bring appropriate warm clothing; and conversely, daytimes can be really hot, even in winter bring plenty of fresh water with you. Supplies can be topped up at The Last Exit.

Is Al Marmoom the same as the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve?

No, these are two separate desert conservation reserves. Al Marmoom is situated further west, towards the Abu Dhabi border and is an unfenced area. The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is a fenced reserve and designated National Park under separate management.

More Dubai Nature Exploration

The attractions of Al Marmoom are still expanding with many more exciting new projects on the way. A trip to Dubai is not complete without visiting the desert and Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve offers plenty of unique experiences for visitors to enjoy.

You may also be interested in:

Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai

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Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE and transit passengers self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our recommendation links.

Dubai Travel Planner

Photo Credits CanvaPro.

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