Hot air balloons, air taxi tours: Sheikh Mohammed announces 100km scenic route for Dubai's countryside

Route 1 will include dedicated roads for vehicles, and special paths for desert bicycles and electric scooters to connect tourist attractions


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Published: Sun 27 Nov 2022, 12:17 PM

Last updated: Sun 27 Nov 2022, 6:50 PM

A 100km scenic route cutting through the golden sands of Dubai will take visitors deep into the emirate’s desert as part of a new project announced on Sunday. Known as Saih Al Salam Scenic Route, or simply Route 1, it will include dedicated roads for vehicles, and special paths for desert bicycles and electric scooters to connect tourist attractions.

The project will have hot air balloons, and helicopter and air taxi tours that let visitors soar over the stunning network of manmade lakes in Al Qudra. Visitors will also get to skydive over the Expo and Love Lakes.

This came as the Dubai Ruler approved a comprehensive plan to develop the emirate’s countryside into touristic destinations. The Dubai Countryside and Rural Areas Development Master Plan spans an area of 2,216sqkm.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said the plan will bring direct economic returns for the people residing in these areas.

“Today, Dubai is the most beautiful city in the world. We now seek to make the rural areas of Dubai some of the most beautiful and enjoyable places,” he tweeted.

Route 1 will include facilities to provide a “holistic tourism experience”. It aims to increase the number of activities, events and services that promote desert tourism.

Camps and lodges with glass domes that offer panoramic views will be built. Open lounges will allow visitors to have a peaceful time beside the existing lakes in the area. It will also have an open-air cinema, in addition to events and art exhibitions. There will be a Caravan Park as well.

In addition, residents and tourists can kayak around the lakes. Souvenir shops and cafes close to the lakes will enrich the experience.

Visitors will be able to experience horse and camel riding, and or just go for long walks in the desert.

The project will include a desert station for sand boarding and desert driving along. It will offer trips to the ancient sites of Saruq Al Hadid and Al Marmoom Heritage Village.

Countryside to get a makeover

The master plan seeks to preserve nature reserves including Lehbab, Margham, Al Marmoom, Al Lisaili, Al Faqaa and Al Aweer. It aims to offer a unique touristic experience and transform each area into a distinct destination.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid approved a host of development projects and initiatives to protect natural reserves and archaeological sites; support farmers and local products; and create investment opportunities for inhabitants. The Supreme Committee for Urban Planning will be in charge of implementing and governing the projects.

The Dubai Ruler approved the plan during his visit to the Dunes Platform at Saih Al Salam.

The master plan will serve as a comprehensive guide for the next 20 years, in line with the Dubai Urban Plan 2040. The plan includes development projects and initiatives to serve the needs of residents.

It will establish a distinct identity for each district and support farmers by offering them opportunities to sell their local products. The plan aims to improve the efficiency of public facilities and services for residents and visitors and develop public parks and traffic solutions to ease mobility. It also seeks to develop sustainable transportation systems that operate direct bus trips from the main stations to these areas and provide designated zones for bicycles and scooters.


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