Many of us in the Arabian Gulf region forget to acknowledge that we live in a magnificent oasis that holds some of the most enchanting resorts in the world. The region is home to the most luxurious and splendid hotels in the world. The United Arab Emirates itself is host to many of those hotels.

We all witnessed the rapid development of the United Arab Emirates during the past several years. It has become somewhat of a hub to the radically distinctive resorts. You can find a handful of these resorts scattered around the country, and they offer extravagance and privacy like no other place.  Not to mention the fact that they make great honeymoon retreats for solitude seekers. The UAE is one of the few countries that can be visited all year long, despite being hot and humid in the summer yet cool and breezy in the winter.

Book yourself a stay at one of these four breathtaking oases. You might never want to leave. Ever.

Banyan Tree Al Wadi // Ras Elkhaima

The Banyan Tree recently opened the doors of their first resort in the United Arab of Emirates. Who could have guessed that Ras Elkhaima had such a heavenly jewel hidden deep inside its desert, specifically in Wadi Khadeja?

All of the resort's tented villas come with a private pool. It is also the first resort in the country to use a hydrothermal spa. For those who prefer swimming and lounging at the beach, there is a private beach club nearby, just a 20 minute drive from the resort.

Guests can never get tired of the tranquility, as there’s so much to do. They offer a lot of activities, such as camel safari, desert drives, archery, golfing, biking, and falconry.  In addition, for visitors with children accompanying them, activities include bedtime stories under the stars, video games, and camel milking.

As for dining, you can enjoy international and Arabian cuisine at Al Waha (which is Arabic for Oasis), Thai cuisine in Banyan Tree’s signature Saffron Restaurant, or make a reservation to have a traditional Arabic meal in the private Dining Destination by a campfire in the desert accompanied with music and dance.

*Prices start at 580 USD per night

**Family friendly resort


Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa // Dubai

This award winning conservation and sanctuary has been around for 11 years now. Very peaceful, the resort’s main theme is relaxation away from the bustle of the city. Being a reservation for the nearly extinct Arabian Almaha gazelles, the resort takes its name after the beautiful creature. You will find them roaming around freely on location, a beautiful sight.

Each one of the tented villas at the resort has spacious bathrooms and their own infinity pool. When you're done relaxing, there are a lot of activities to take part in like horse riding, camel riding, tours around the desert, archery and much more.

The resort's Al-Diwan Restaurant offers international cuisine, where breakfast is served, and dinner is more of a formal affair, thus guests are required to dress in casual-smart attire. For a more intimate and private meal, you can dine amidst the desert dunes in the reservation-only Dinner Dunes, where you are taken to a secluded spot and have your dinner while seated on cushions and rugs and surrounded by flame light torches. Another dining option is to have a private lunch or dinner on the deck overlooking the resort’s pool or your suite's pool.

*Prices start at 880 USD per night


Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara // Abu Dhabi

You may have heard about the renowned Anantara resorts in Thailand. Well, they've got one of their resorts in Abu Dhabi's Liwa Desert now, and one that will be opening soon (2011) in Oman.

When it comes to accommodation, the resort has both hotel rooms and villas. The rooms come either with a balcony, a garden (for rooms located on the ground floor), or a huge terrace that’s practically an open air living room. The villas, on the other hand, are standalone structures and come complete with a pool, of course.

As with all the above mentioned resorts, you will also find activities here such as camel riding, desert tours and archery. For the younger guests, they can enjoy their time too in the Kids Club where they can watch TV, play computer games, read books, and use the computer.

You can have a taste of international and Middle Eastern cuisine at Al-Waha, meat and seafood at Suhail, or a light meal for lunch and a Mediterranean dinner at Ghadeer.

*Prices start at 270 USD per night

**Family friendly resort


Desert Palm by Per AQUUM // Dubai

Per AQUUM is a resort company that specializes in the best in contemporary design boutique resorts, in contrast to the Arabian design featured in the above mentioned resorts. The resort which although is in the desert, is not far from Jumeira, and is known for its polo sport field. Surrounded by a green landscape, the resort offers many types of accommodation which include rooms, villas, and residences. The villas and residences have their own pool, bedroom, living room, and bathroom with an indoor and outdoor shower. And if you're a spa enthusiast, the resort is home to the award winning LIME Spa.

Dining is a pleasure in their numerous restaurants. You can enjoy steak in Rare Restaurant, sandwiches and Italian beside the pool in the award winning Epicure Gourmet Market, afternoon tea at The Jewel Afternoon Tea, or private dining in Rare Restaurant or in your own villa.

For an unforgettable evening, there’s Movies & Munchies, a movie night held by the pool every Wednesday, with movies for the younger guests at 7pm and for the older crowds at 9pm. Activities include polo matches, horse riding, cooking classes, and various sports.

*Prices start at 290 USD per night

**Family friendly resort

Note: All prices are approximate rates for the month of July 2010 as featured in the resorts' website.

– All images from the resorts' official websites.

By Noura Al-Nafisi

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