If there is one thing I know about Dubai, it is that people here fancy their horses. Horses hold a very special place in the hearts of people in the Middle East. I had been for a sunrise ride the last time I visited Dubai before moving here, but wanted to find somewhere a bit more… professional. I was delighted to find Al Sahra Desert Resort.
My two friends and I headed out to the desert VERY early, getting lost a few times on the way – this is Dubai, after all! Al Sahra is located about 40km from Downtown Dubai, out near the Sevens Stadium. You definitely leave the city behind for this ride, which I think we were all looking forward to. Al Sahra is run by Lisa Matthews, an ex-New Zealand three-day eventer. It is obvious that she takes a lot of pride in the care of her horses, an attitude also held by her kind and friendly staff.
I ended up on an ex-racehorse who was very well-behaved, except for the occasional attempt to launch me across the desert at 100kms an hour. Al Sahra gave us two guides, which was great – it meant I could stay back with Bianca (who had never ridden a horse before, and did very well!) and Natasha could gallop off across the desert. Bianca and I kept to trotting, although there was a few canters when my horse decided to go for gold and return to his racing roots.
I enjoyed this ride much more than my last desert hack in Dubai. It was much further out in the desert, and you really felt like you were away from the city. We saw wild camels, tame racing camels in pens, a very cool looking bouncy deer and a bunch of adorable baby goats leaping around. The guides were much friendlier than last time, and took good care of us. It warmed up remarkably quickly though… by about 6.30am, we were definitely feeling the heat.
We spent a little while relaxing and munching down on a hearty meal of oreos and pringles afterwards, as there was a lovely shady area to sit in and no one seemed bothered by our presence. As we walked back from the trek, I had asked one of the guides if I was able to go and check out the camels, and much to my delight he was happy to let us do so. The Pakistani camel keeper, along with the guides, was just lovely. He took a huge amount of pride in telling us about his work with the camels, and what he does to take care of them. They were ‘very tame camels’ that didn’t spit or bite – and they loved a good head scratch and a cuddle. He had the last two days off work and his camels were looking a bit muddy, so he was getting them ready for bath time. There were seven camels, and they all had names – I can’t remember them all, but there was definitely a Liwa and a Maria. And a Simon. This is Simon the camel.
Busy with his upcoming camel washing duties, we left the keeper to his work. We had asked him about his work at Al Sahra, and he told us how much he enjoyed working there, and how well he was treated at his workplace. I love supporting local businesses that treat their staff well – and this definitely seems the case at Al Sahra. Exhausted after our morning adventure, we headed off back home, with no unplanned detours or missed exits at all. Victory! All in all, a successful trip, and highly recommended.
A sunrise ride at Al Sahra costs 300AED for 90 minutes, but they offer a Platinum discount on some trips of 20%. They also offer camel excursions, including one with a picnic and bubbles, for 200 to 750AED.