Sandboarding and dune bashing in Dubai: everything you need to know


Dubai, also known as the “Desert City”, is a paradise for sandboarders and sandsports lovers in general, and so is the rest of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Arabian Desert, one of the largest desertic areas in the world, offers some of the most suggestive landscapes in the world, attracting tourists and adrenaline seekers from all over the world. For a quintessential Dubai experience, you must go on a desert safari with dune bashing - the Arab version of sand duning, which involves driving at very fast speeds on very bumpy sand dunes, and of course, enjoy some incredible sandboarding on one of the countless sand red dunes in the area.

Sandboarding in Dubai

Where to sandboard in Dubai and the UAE

Al Badayer oasis

Hidden oasis less than an hour away from both Dubai and Sharjah city by car, Al Badayer hosts some of the most stunning dunes of the Arabian desert, including the famous “Big Red Dune”. Whether you want to sled down the Big Red or one of the numerous smaller, wave-like dunes, this place is a must see.

Saudi Desert Sand Dunes. CC BY-SA 3.0

Al Faya desert

Another desert with red sand and plenty of spots for sand duning, not too far from Abu Dhabi.

Lahbab desert

Desert about 40 minute drive away from Dubai city, with mostly short but spectacular ridges of red sand for duning and sledding. 

Liwa Oasis

This place in the Abu Dhabi area hosts one of the vastest dunes in the world, the Moreeb dune, which is over 1.6 km long and 300 m tall. 

Sweihan desert / Little Liwa

Another desert with large dunes and delicate sand, located between Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Al Ain.

What to wear sandboarding in Dubai

Dubai and the UAE have a desert climate with very high temperature during the day which falls sharply at night. It's best to wear layered clothing when hitting the dunes, covering your body from head to toe in order to protect yourself from the scorching hot sand and dust. Read: best sandboarding clothes for desert climates.

Dune Bashing in Dubai

What does dune bashing mean?

Dune bashing is a thrilling activity conducted with off-road vehicles recklessly driving through sand dunes of the Dubai desert. In other parts of the world, it is sometimes referred to as sand duning. 4x4 off-road SUV cars like Nissan Patrol, Toyota Sequioa, Wrangler Jeeps and Land Rovers are used for sand duning in so-called “dune bashing safaris”. It’s hard to explain the thrill of dune bashing to those that have never experienced it, but it’s an incredibly fun experience - somewhat similar to a roller coaster ride.

Dune Bashing in Dubai. Photo courtesy of Bahnfrend - CC BY-SA 4.0

Where to go dune bashing in Dubai

There are several - all wonderful - spots where you can go dune bashing in the area surrounding Dubai. Different areas will also require different levels of expertise when it comes to dune bashing.

Al Badayer desert  

One of the most famous dune bashing locations in the Emirates, ideal for dune bashing beginners. 

Sweihan desert

The so called “Little Liwa” actually hosts some rather massive dunes and dune bashing there requires some amount of experience.

Liwa Oasis 

The aforementioned Moreeb dune is sometimes also called the “Terrying Mountain”, and dune bashing in the Liwa desert can be a rather thrilling experience. For experienced bashers only!

Is dune bashing dangerous?

Dune bashing tours are always conducted by professional drivers with plenty of experience and are not dangerous. That said, the experience is not for the faint of heart and not safe for pregnancy. If you are a pregnant woman you should make sure to contact the tour company in advance and have dune bashing removed from your trip. There are many tour operators offering desert safaris without dune bashing, and it is good advice to let the driver know in advance if there is going to be any pregnant member of the group or very small children.