• Tom Bushell

Adventure // Ride over Dubai's Arabian Desert in a Hot Air Balloon // United Arab Emirates

The Arabian desert is the 5th largest desert in the world, and can only be fully appreciated from the air...

  • Stunning views of one of the world's great deserts

  • Spectacular sunrise over the Hajar Mountains

  • Glorious shades of light across the dunes as you travel 4,000 feet into the air

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The Arabian Desert is the world's 5th largest desert, it is home to one of the world's biggest continuous bodies of sand, known as the Empty Quarter.


The only way to really appreciate its scale is from the skies, in the peace and tranquility of a hot air balloon.


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I took a flight with Balloon Adventures Dubai to tell a little bit of the story of the Arabian Desert and to showcase to you the incredible light on the sand dunes as well as a stunning sunrise over the Hajar Mountains.


The Hajar Mountains is the biggest mountain range in the eastern Arabian Peninsula - and marks of the end of the Arabian Desert to the east. There are some incredible hikes to do in these mountains, which you can find here.


RELATED ARTICLE: WATCH - A beginners guide to hiking the lower trails of Jebel Jais


The experience


It is an early start, around a 4.30am pick up from the city of Dubai before an hour's drive into the desert, but don't put off by that... if anything is worth getting up for, its a hot air balloon to watch a sunrise in the desert.


Once you have arrived at the take off point, the balloon will be filled with 350,000 cubic feet of hot air and you will climb aboard after a safety briefing.


You'll then effortlessly leave the ground and begin climbing to around 4,000 feet where you will witness spectacular views of the Arabian Desert, Hajar Mountains and if you are lucky, on a clear day, even back to the city of Dubai.


That all comes after witnessing a stunning sunset to mark the dawn of a new day in the desert.


It is a fitting time to soak up the desert from above too. The UAE has just successfully reached the orbit of Mars with the Hope Probe mission... when you are high above the desert looking down on the landscape, I imagine it would be a similar view of what greeted the Hope Probe when it reached the Red Planet's orbit.


It is like a different world.

RELATED ARTICLE: WATCH - 5 reasons to hike Fossil Rock


If a hot air balloon ride over the desert isn't quite enough for you, then afterwards a classic Land Rover drive across the dunes will take you to a sumptuous breakfast at a heritage desert camp.

The Arabian Desert is home to such rich stories, and as I talk about in the video, it is also sometimes a lush and fertile landscape when the Indian Ocean monsoons move further north.


Don't worry, you won't get caught in these, it only happens roughly every 23,000 years.


But that's not an excuse to waste any time, this is a great way to start the day and get even a small understanding of one of the world's great deserts.