4 Magical Desert Stays to Book Across the Arab World

Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin may involve genies and flying carpets, but these four desert stays across the Arab world promise guests a dose of real-life magic. 

Camel rides are de rigueur at Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara.

1. Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, United Arab Emirates
Lying 90 minutes down the road from Abu Dhabi, the edge of the Empty Quarter is far more accessible than most people realize. Here, Qasr Al Sarab’s sprawling make-believe citadel—replete with turrets, courtyards, and crenellated rooflines—houses 154 rooms and 52 pool villas. There’s also an antiques-strewn library as well as a rooftop lounge, while a Moroccan hammam and locally inspired spa treatments beckon after an exploration of the surrounding landscape by camel or four-by-four.

More information here; doubles from US$572.

2. Dar Ahlam, Morocco
French hotelier Thierry Teyssier’s “House of Dreams” certainly lives up to its name. Occupying a 19th-century kasbah (fortress) in Skoura Oasis, which lies between the Middle and High Atlas Mountains, Dar Ahlam upends the traditional five-star hotel stay by tailoring the entire guest experience to the desires of each individual. Every meal is a private dining affair, and because the kasbah has just 14 rooms, you might feel as though you’ve stepped into your own Moroccan mansion.

More information here; suites from US$691.

3. Desert Nights Camp, Oman
A two-hour drive from Muscat, Desert Nights Camp offers 39 tented suites amid the postcard-perfect Wahiba Sands. These air-conditioned abodes sport Bedouin fittings and plush bedding; if you’re traveling with kids, opt for the 57-square-meter family suite that sleeps four (two in a super-king-size bed). While excursions range from dune bashing and market visits to a swim in the crystalline pools of Wadi Bani Khalid, the encampment is just the place to savor traditional Omani fare by a fire and sip champagne beneath a star-filled sky.

More information here; doubles from US$169, half-board.

4. Adrère Amellal, Egypt
This eco-lodge in western Egypt’s remote Siwa Oasis famously hosted Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2006. Styled as a traditional village built from kershef—a mixture of sun-dried mud, straw, and rock salt that keeps the interior cool during the day and warm at night—the electricity-free resort is lit entirely by torches and beeswax candles. None of its 40 guest rooms are the same, though all have rustic-chic furnishings and details carved in local white limestone.

More information here; doubles from US$370, all-inclusive.

This article originally appeared in the April/May 2019 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Desert Drama”).

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