It’s the original desert sport for newbies and tourists, and you’re not the wise old Dubai sage you think you are until you’ve tried it at least once. Book a spot on an early morning or evening session and prepare to roar over the emirate’s orange sandy inclines from the comfort of a thoroughly air-conditioned 4x4, with added safari extras including quad biking and camel rides. If you’re really into your toys, try a Hummer safari, which runs from 3pm to 10pm and includes a BBQ dinner, camel rides and more.
Prices vary. Pick-up across Dubai, www.dunebashing.net (052 937 2201).
If hopping over the dunes and achieving air-time in a roll cage sounds like fun, you’re in luck. Explorer Tours offers thrill-seekers the choice of a single-seater or two-seater buggy – a half-day tour takes place in an area of desert around 30 minutes’ drive from Dubai. After a quick safety briefing, drivers pull on their helmets, buckle up and chase the lead driver at the front, who takes the convoy along a 10km track through the desert. If you’re concerned about staying in control, you needn’t be. Truth is, dune buggies are easy to operate – particularly the single seaters, which are entirely automatic and require no gear changes.
Single seater Dhs500 per person, Dhs375 per person sharing. Two seater Dhs395 per person. Explorer Tours, www.explorertours.ae,firstname.lastname@example.org (04 286 1991).
Make like your favourite reckless action stars and try your hand at drifting. Not in your local car park, that is, but at Dubai Autodrome. Here, a new technology called Easydrift is used, creating a loss of grip on the rear wheels from a much slower speed, making the activity safer and accessible to all. A Level 1 session will teach you how to master driving sideways, counter-steering to balance the loss of grip as you screech around coned circles and much more.
Dhs1,100. Dubai Autodrome, Motor City, www.dubaiautodrome.com (04 367 8700).
Head down to the Dubai Kartdrome after dark to take advantage of the Arrive & Drive’s later summer opening hours and whizz around the track under the stars. The crowds tend to start pouring in from around 8pm, continuing through to midnight. Head down with a big group of mates to put your handling skills to the test and see who comes out at the top of the table. Be warned, those rented suits can get very, very sweaty – there’s an indoor kart track if you prefer, but it’s nowhere near as thrilling.
Dhs100 per 15-minute session, Dhs10 annual registration fee. Dubai Kartdrome, Dubai Autodrome, Motor City, www.dubaiautodrome.com (04 367 8744).
Prefer to let someone else take the wheel? Hit the road with motorcycle tour operator FlyBike, which specialises in trips on the back of huge, comfy two and three-wheel Honda Gold Wings – the La-Z-Boy of motorcycles. As well as the option to customise your own tour, FlyBike offers set excursions including night adventures and the Old and New day tour, which buzzes through Dubai’s historical district in Bur Dubai and then on to the Burj Khalifa. The culturally rich Sahara tour is a three-hour desert trip that stops at the Camel Racetrack, Camel Market, the desert cycling track and Bab Al Shams.
From Dhs360 for a one-hour tour with a driver on the Honda Gold Wing 1800 Tricycle. FlyBike, www.flybike.info (04 360 6867).
Single seater experience
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is a few months away yet, so get your Formula One fix with a whip around the Autodrome in a real race car. Your introduction to wings and slick tyres starts with a safety briefing, followed by an instructor-led pacing around the 1.2km Oval Circuit to learn the lines and get the most out of the experience. After that, it’s just you and the (not-quite) open road.
Dhs875. Dubai Autodrome, Motor City, www.dubaiautodrome.com (04 367 8744).
Not much of a real driver? Check out this little-known gem. Xxtreme Simulation offers simulated racing games for a range of vehicles, from go karts to V8 supercars, and promises to deliver an experience that feels as close to the real thing as possible, all from the safety of its Oud Metha shop. The centre also offers ladies-only hours on request, plus discounts when you sign up to be a member.
From Dhs100 for 30 minutes. Xxtreme Simulation, Oud Metha, www.xxtremesimulation.com (04 396 7230).
Seek out some of the sweetest rides of the last century inside this impressive collection, which has wheels dating back as far as 1917. Highlights include at 1969 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman – one of only 2,677 ever made – and a 1957 Bedford Model truck, once used as a military vehicle in the UAE.
Dhs5 entry fee. Airport Road, between 4th and 5th intersections, Sharjah, www.sharjahmuseums.ae (06 558 0222).