Monday, April 4, 2011
Dizzying Dubai - 3
Leaving the bustling cityscape behind, I headed to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve and the Al Maha Resort, an unusual combination of raw nature and extreme luxury. We turned off the main highway and drove along a small sand-blown road until in the distance I saw a clump of trees with tents scattered among them. After check-in, a golf cart drove me to a villa with a large sail of a canvas roof. Inside, I was greeted by a king-size bed, Arabian antiques and bathtub in which you could launch a ship. Outside, wooden decks and a personal infinity pool offered long views over the desert. I felt guilty as hell, but it was absolutely, deliciously decadent.
The resort with its pools attracts a variety of animals and birds, an oasis in the middle of a dry, hot desert. I went for a drive with a naturalist in the afternoon as the sun turned soft orange. An endangered oryx posed against the sky. Delicate little Arabian gazelles gazed shyly at us. On spotting us, a sandfish lizard disappeared into the dune in a flurry of sand. The dunes were like art with sculpted ridges and rich shadowy ripples.
Next morning I rose for an early swim and then lazed by the pool with a coffee listening to an avian orchestra of coos, chirps and warbles. I never imagined the desert would be so, well, luxurious and comfortable.
+ General info: definitelydubai.com
+ The Desert Conservation Centre: http://www.ddcr.org/
+ Tours: http://www.knighttours.co.ae/