Your guide to camping in the UAE: transport, food and the top spots

Looking for plans this New Year’s Eve? We’ve got just the thing

While it seems as though the holiday season treasures the turkey, tinsel and Christmas pudding, come December 31st it’s all about welcoming the new year in style. Many go out, a few stay in, but this year, why not trade the city lights for dark skies and sandy dunes? For our December issue of the Spinneys magazine we tried desert camping, got the Tshirt and now we’re passing our experience onto you. Here’s your guide to the perfect New Year’s Eve:

THE CAR

  • A four-wheel drive is essential – your party should consist of at least two cars, in case one gets stuck.
  • You’ll need to deflate your tyres before driving on soft sand. Exactly how much will depend on the size and weight of your vehicle, so do check this and use a pressure gauge on the day.
  • The desert is not a good place to run out of petrol, so remember to fill up before you depart and bring a full jerrycan with you.

THE FOOD

Snacks and sides

The key to successful dining is planning and preparing ahead – chilli crisps with avocado dip are perfect for sharing and campfire potato parcels simply need to be cooked on the barbecue or in the embers of the campfire. For a salad, we love our charred mushroom, lemon and parsley number – it comes alive when met with the heat of the fire.

Mains

It’s all about the sizzling ribeye roast as you sit round the campfire. For those who don’t eat meat, this spicy Dukka salmon in vine leaves has got a real kick.

Dessert

S’mores are the ultimate barbecue dessert and there’s no better time than New Year’s Eve to give them a gourmet twist. For gooey, lightly browned marshmallows long skewers are the best – that way you can stand a comfortable distance from the fire. Hover the marshmallow over the fire and rotate the skewer until it’s toasted just the way you like it.

Why not make things extra special and set up a s’mores bar so that everyone can customise their creations? Here are some of our favourite variations:

  • Caramel chocolate orange = marshmallows + chocolate orange + Double Delights Caramel Wafers
  • Mint choc chip = marshmallows + After Eights + SpinneysFood Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Salted chocolate peanut butter = marshmallows + Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups + Ritz Crackers

Breakfast the next day

There are plenty of deli products you can buy ready-made to chuck on the BBQ, or, if you’d rather prepare something yourself, this breakfast loaf is easy to serve and just what you need after a night in the dunes.

THE SPOT

  • Fujairah: with lovely views and the opportunity for a morning swim, this is a must.
  • Liwa Oasis: part of the Arabian desert and free from light pollution, a true camping experience.
  • Fossil Rock: this is where we shot for FOOD and it’s a lovely site, just make sure you’re a keen off-roader (or with one!).
  • Hajar Mountains: renowned for its spring water and daily market.

THE ESSENTIALS

  • Sleeping bags; even the UAE can get quite cold at night.
  • Baby wipes or hand sanitizer: the desert is sandy (who would’ve thought it) so take something to freshen up.
  • Wood is a must; there are two varieties in the SpinneysHome range: sekelbos, which adds flavour and kameel, known for its long burn time.
  • Camping chairs, especially if you’re all about the comfort.
  • Head torches.
  • Sun shade if you’re planning on heading down in the day.
  • Pots and pans.
  • Matches or a lighter and charcoal.
  • Cutting board or surface.
  • Folding table to keep food, drinks and other items away from the sand.
  • Toilet paper.
  • A barbecue – there are plenty of disposables in store, or take the grill from your barbecue at home and fashion your own rustic fire.

THE EXTRAS

  • Make sure to clean up after yourselves – it might be worth taking a few dustbin bags to ensure you don’t run out.
  • If you find a spot in a bowl, park one of the cars on a hill so it’s visible to any other oncoming cars.
  • Tea and coffee for the morning won't go amiss (the Little’s Coffee range is exclusive to Spinneys and comes in lots of exciting flavours, too).
  • It may be worth packing a mat or carpet: it’s New Year’s Eve, so stick on some tunes and boogie on a ready-made dance floor.
  • For an extra level of comfort look into getting an air bed or foam mattress; this isn't essential but if you’re after a good night’s sleep, it might make all the difference.
  • Takes some cards and play some games around the fire or, if you want to get sporty bring a badminton net.
  • If you're a late sleeper consider investing in an eye mask... because who wants to be woken with the 6am rising sun?

Got a question for our experts? Just visit any of our social media channels, use the hashtag#AskSpinneys and a member of our team will get back to you.