Today after a couple of operational issues we set off for the desert. The first taxi could not find Bens apartment, so a second taxi was called as the replacement, this one could not find the resort! In fact the second taxi driver had no clue where he was going despite giving us lots of head nodding and positive grunts to indicate that he did indeed know the way.
He also clearly could not read since we went past a sign indicating the turn off to Bab Al Shams and we flew straight past it! After we pointed this out and with the aid of Bens GPS the taxi driver then nearly killed us as he decided to drive straight up the middle of a two way lorry convoy in search of the new road we were now looking for! I've been in some countries with terrible driving but this experience had me sweating bullets I can tell you.
We finally reached Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa. It's an oasis in the middle of the desert (well not for much longer since once Dubai's International airport expansion is completed I am pretty sure the airports lights will be right on the resorts doorstep, but that's a couple of years away!).
The purpose build resort hotel is well designed and laid out, full of Expats (mainly British) from Abu Dhabi and Dubai seeking a little weekend break with their families). The pools were lovely and there were plenty of umbrellas for shade, food and drinks were good and service excellent. The hotel was definitely aimed at the upscale tourists and the prices (like everything else in the UAE) reflected that. In the early evening there were Camel rides and a falcon show (all somewhat touristy but everyone seemed to like it).
We decided to go to Al Hadheerah for the dinner and show (really, we should have known better!). The $115 per person buffet (no alcoholic drinks included!) was situated in a Bedouin style camp, just a short walk from the hotel down a torch lit path through the desert and is part of the hotel. The setup of the restaurant with its tables and chairs on carpets in the sand and a buffet featuring ample Middle Eastern food looked very impressive and there were some small shops/souk at the entrance. The food was well displayed (spices, dates, cooking pots and utensils and show cooking stations dotted around) and the service excellent but the price was extremely high especially as only soft drinks were included.
Then came the show.......featuring a small leading cast, men wearing twirly dresses, dancers (with many costume changes), a belly dancer and musicians, can I tell you how much I really dislike Arabic music, especially when it's played at a horribly loud level! The Arabian nights show complete with a cast of men dashing back and forth on horses, camels and goats was Disneylike to say the least and shamefully poor. OK well perhaps that's a little harsh the young kids on the table next to us seemed at least to be enjoying it but for adults it was a bust.