What to see and do at Al Qudra Lakes

Explore the sprawling lakes of Al Qudra in Dubai


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With idyllic beaches to lounge on, bustling boulevards to stroll and an abundance of al fresco attractions, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a sunny day in Dubai. Those seeking more tranquil scenery, however, will find it at Al Qudra Lakes – a real desert oasis, this popular eco-tourism destination is ideal for wildlife-watchers and those seeking to reconnect with nature.

Part of the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve and set amidst the rolling dunes of the Saih Al Salam desert, these sprawling manmade lakes blend beautifully into their surroundings. Numerous islands provide habitats for the many avian species which nest here, and low bushes and trees offer food for both birds and insects, though there’s little shade for humans. The lakes may be artificial, but the surrounding area is unspoiled; we recommend travelling by 4x4 as tracks are off-road and parking ad-hoc.

Oasis in Dubai desert Jumeirah Al Qudra

Arrive early and you’ll find yourself more or less alone as birds call and a soft breeze ripples across the waters. Ornithologists will want to bring binoculars to search out the many species of birds – native and migratory – that congregate here, and several birdwatching towers offer prime positions from which to do so. Easiest to spot are the less exotic swans, lapwings and ducks, as well as a large flock of (imported) flamingo, who make for a pretty picture as they rest in the shallows on red, spindly legs. You’ll be rewarded for your patience if you look harder, though, as cormorant, heron and even kestrel have been seen here.

Flamingoes at Al Qudra Lakes Dubai desert Jumeirah

When it comes time to eat, Al Qudra doesn’t have any restaurants or cafés, which would ruin its remote feel, but that doesn’t stop visitors eating by the shore. Most days, you’ll see locals clustered around barbecues, grilling their lunch; this is permissible, as long as the barbecues are raised and not sitting directly on the sand. Alternatively, pack a picnic and a blanket and choose a spot to relax in undisturbed as you drink in the landscapes and while away a leisurely afternoon.

If you prefer to get active, bring a bicycle or your running shoes and take advantage of the smooth track that runs around the lakes and through the desert, spanning a challenging 86km. Keep an eye out as you go and you may spot some of the region’s bigger native inhabitants along the way. If you’re especially quiet, you could see sand gazelle, desert foxes or even the elusive Arabian Oryx grazing or darting around. To add a touch of romance to your day, head to the nearby Love Lake. Just minutes from Al Qudra Lakes, this artificial waterscape is shaped to resemble two intertwined hearts and a truly atmospheric place to spend time – and take photos – with a loved one.

wild desert view and landscape Al Qudra Dubai Jumeirah

When night begins to fall, the lakes are the backdrop for some truly spectacular sunsets. As red skies reflect off the tranquil waters, the birds get ready to nest, as do Dubai’s more adventurous locals, lured into camping overnight by the peaceful atmosphere. Once the sun sets, be sure to look up before you leave – the skies here are entirely unpolluted by traffic or light, meaning you’ll spot twinkling stars and complex constellations with ease.