Al Sahara Equestrian Centre is my weekly mama/daughter time in the desert. By 8am every Friday morning, my 6 year old little girl and I have piled into our trusty old pajero complete with a ‘granola & fruit jar’ picnic breakfast, carrots for the horses and Vaya Con Dios playing. The further we drive into the desert, the more I feel calmness descending and the frenzy of the previous week ebb away.
My daughter Margot’s devotion to all things equine and her desire to ride forced me to confront a life-long pathological fear of horses. One year on, thanks to the kindness, patience and professionalism of the multi-faceted team of Al Sahara, I now lead Arabian beauties Salam and Miramar by the reins with confidence from the arena once my daughter has completed her lesson… no mean feat! Margot meanwhile confidently trots on a 14 hand Arabian, that is, when she’s not out trekking in the desert for her riding lesson.
Unique in its lack of pretension and snobbery, the magic of Al Sahara (part of the JA Resorts & Hotels Group) extends far beyond ‘the best riding lessons in Dubai’. They offer authentic Arabian cultural tours, complete with desert camel rides and the Arabian Fortress Desert Experience; the most intimate dinner experience under the stars complete with entertainment and bubbles! Bursting with personality and warmth, the team’s ethos is based primarily upon hospitality, which is tangible from the moment you arrive.
General Manager Lisa Matthews (New Zealand Team Ex-3 day eventer), is the charismatic and much-loved force of nature at the helm. Avidly nurturing her team, horses and clients in equal measure, Lisa and her team at Al Sahara offer the following range of activities delivered with passion and excellence:
The Boutique Riding School has a maximum of three to a class and students progress under the careful tutelage of a focused team of highly experienced teachers. Al Sahara prides itself on offering a riding experience tailored to age and level extending to boutique livery. The stable houses a gorgeous variety of breeds; warmblood, Argentine, Arabian and thoroughbreds, many with illustrious previous careers in polo, endurance and racing.
For families, small groups or schools wishing to learn more about Bedouin life, their Arabian cultural tours are perfect for you. It’s an insight into bedouin life peppered with camel facts – did you know camels are blessed with three sets of eyelashes and can survive for a whole month without water or food? The educational tour culminates in a 45 minute camel trek over sandunes at sunrise or sunset. Truly evocative and enhanced only by a glass of bubbles as the sun sets over the dunes.
Back at the stables, darkness had descended and our private horseback group of 5 ambled onwards in the wake of flickering oil lamps. Exotic oud scents wafted gently, welcoming us to our beautifully laid table under the stars. Peaceful, intimate and a feeling of having both the restaurant and desert to ourselves, we revelled in five star service and simple authentic Arabic food catered by JA Hotel Group. Fire and belly dancers captivated our kids. Falcons, camel and horseback rides kept all of us out of mischief and weaved their way into our dreams. Once again, the desert peace had worked its magic.
Al Sahara Equestrian Centre, Al Sahra Desert Resort, 233 Dubai
Tel: (+971)(0)44 274 055
Top image sourced from Pinterest