How Not to Go Camping in Dubai

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Camping at Jebel Ali Beach
Camping at Jebel Ali Beach

My husband and I went beach camping this past weekend with our 9-month old baby and a few friends. It was our first time camping in Dubai and with a baby so we stuck close to home and drove the short distance from Dubai Marina to Jebel Ali beach right alongside the Jebel Ali Hotel and Resort. It was definitely a learning experience!!! We enjoyed the novelty of camping for the first time in Dubai and of course the company of our friends but on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being a trip to hell) I might have to rate this trip a dismal 3…maybe 4.

Here’s what we learned:

  1. Don’t go when it’s still hot and humid. Air temps are still in the high 90s (~35 C) with lows in the mid 80s (~25C). Luckily we had a nice breeze all day and the water temp was quite nice – not hot nor cold. However, when we were ready to go to bed, the wind died down and the humidity set in – it was miserable in the tent.  We put Baby HB in his nappy only but I kept worrying that he would overheat although deep down I knew he would be fine.
  2. Don’t camp in a construction zone. I’ve heard that, once upon a time, Jebel Ali beach used to be a nice beach to camp on but since the construction began for the Palm Jebel Ali, the whole area is just a bit of an eyesore with half-baked structures and debris all over.  On a bright side, the building of the Palm meant that the sea surface was quite calm so no big waves to scare the little ones.
  3. Don’t camp at a site where it’s overcrowded already. Being still hot, we didn’t think there’d be many other campers on the beach but there were quite a few caravans there already. One particular RV had awful fluorescent  lights on the outside that made the campsite quite eerie in the evening and were so bright I could barely make out any stars!  Then when I was (finally) about to fall asleep around 2am, a night club erupted from one of the caravans.  I couldn’t sleep through it but luckily Baby HB did.
  4. Don’t forget to check your list – twice. We rushed out of our house so fast to meet our friends that I didn’t get a chance to check my camping/packing list.  We were only going down the road for one night of beach camping so I figured we could just wing it.  But I forgot so many things like plates, hammer for the pegs, and more!

Again, despite all this, we still had a great time hanging out with our friends, meeting new friends, enjoying the outside air, swimming in the sea, eating the yummy beach bbq, and of course, roasting marshmallows.

And I can’t wait to do it again but I’ll wait until the weather cools down. I’ve got a couple routes already high-lighted in my UAE Offroad Explorer book…

Getting There and Beyond: If you would like to camp out at Jebel Ali beach as well, no permit is currently needed.  There were police patrols driving up and down the beach but they only stopped to make conversation or say hello to the little ones. Never were we asked for a permit or told that we needed one.

To get to the beach, drive as if you are going to Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa.  Once you pass the main entrance of the resort, maybe in the next 30 yards/30 meters, you will see (on your right) a dirt track that has been created by constant use – take that road towards the beach. You’re there!

There was a municipality worker who came around at 7am to collect our bags of trash, which was nice, but please take your trash out if he doesn’t happen to come by.

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  1. Hey
    I was planning to go for camping and I don’t wanna go away from dubai
    I need some where near dubai
    So I just want to ask if this place is still available for camping or not ?
    As i can see the post since 2010

  2. hi there!

    enjoyed reading your adventures…would it be possible for sedans to park near the dibba beach? or at least a distance away where we can see them from the campsite? and is there a need for car insurance into oman? because the last time we crossed the RAK-Oman border they needed oman car insurance and both border stations stamped our passports.

    1. Hi Vince,

      Thank you for visiting my blog!

      Right at the entrance of Dibba beach where we camped the sand is hard packed so you would be able to leave your sedan parked there and then camp towards the water with the cars in sight.

      This part of Dibba isn't technically Oman so there might not be need for Omani car insurance – in our experience, no one checked for car insurance nor stamped our passports. Our car is insured for UAE and Oman so it wasn't a concern for us.

      Hope that helps.

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  4. Hi, My friends and I are planning on camping on JAL beach this weekend.. we have sedans not SUVs. Is the beach driveable? or too risky in case we get stuck? Should I also bother to call Dm tom about the licence??

    1. Hi Nikk, we did see sedans on JAL beach so they were able to get down somehow. Other option is leave the sedan at the top of the dunes and just bring your gear down – only a 30 second or so walk depending on where you park.

      As for the camping license, we did not have one as I was told by a friend (who used to get her license from DM) that they no longer issue it for JAL. But you know how fast things change here!

      Hope this helps!

  5. The entrance we took to the camping site was not very far from the main entrance of the hotel. If you exit from the hotel and enter the round-a-bout, then the entrance was probabaly about 15-30 meters away. It did not look like a real road to me, just a few tire tracks on the sand. But you basically drive towards the beach parellel to the hotel.

  6. Hey,

    We will be staying at Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa next weekend. After which we are planning to leave the comfort of the resort, to the open beach and camp with the family under the stars.

    I just wanted to know, how far do you have to go from the main entrance to take the right down to the beach? Since we don't have a car, should we bother taking a cab or should we just walk the distance?

    Any advice appreciated 🙂

    Thanks in advance,


  7. Hi M! This was my first time camping and I just went along with others who had been before so I don't know of any other places that would be suitable.

    But I would highly suggest getting either (or both!) the UAE or Oman Offroad Explorer book. Both can be found at any bookshop like MaGrudy's, Borders, Virgin, and also in Carrefour, Spinneys, etc. The books lists lots of places to go and see as well as detailed directions, etc.

  8. Hello there. Thank you for your post. I was wondering if you know of any other place by the beach to camp. A little more private for a veiled woman to swim i.e. NO ONE can be there 🙂
    I 'm ready to go as far as Oman. It's just my first time to go camping in UAE and I have no idea who to call and ask or where.
    Thank you very much, I hope to hear from you.