• Warda Bouassab

The wildest retreat in the UAE

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

Hidden in the heart of Sir Bani Yas island, Anantara Al Sahel Villas is perhaps the best-kept secret in the United Arab Emirates.

The luxurious resort meets the wilds of Arabia with glamping villas, lush nature and indigenous wildlife. Gazelles, giraffes and ostriches roam freely throughout the reserve under the watchful eyes of wild cheetahs. Surrounded by the Arabian Gulf, Sir Bani Yas Island is only a 25-minute boat ride away from the main land. As soon as you step off the boat, you will embark on an African-style safari without leaving the UAE. Anantara Al Sahel Villas is situated within the fenced parameters of the Arabian Wildlife Park, delivering the ultimate fusion of private luxury and untamed wilderness.

“As soon as you step off the boat, you will embark on an African-style safari without leaving the UAE.”

The Villas

The interior and look of the 30 private villas have an emphasis on space, light and privacy. High ceilings and tall windows create a seamless integration with nature, blurring the barrier between inside and out. The earth-toned suites have four-poster beds, gracious sitting areas, and tribal artwork adorning the textured walls. The spacious bathroom benefits from daylight and features a beautiful carved bronze tub, perfect after a long day in the Arabian Wildlife park. Book one of the pool villas to watch gazelles and peacocks passing by while relaxing in your own plunge pool.

The Restaurant

Fruit platter at Savannah Grill

Stamped in its African influence, Savannah Grill offers a true culinary escapade. The flavors inspirations from African tribes have been suitably matched to dishes, creating a contemporary combination of western favorites and African specialties pleasing everyone’s palate. Savannah Grill is open all-day long, serving buffet-style breakfast and à la carte lunch and dinner. If you are traveling during summer months, look out for the Butternut Salad. The savory combination of roasted butternut, juicy pomegranate and soft feta cheese will refresh your lunch. For dinner, I strongly recommend the signature Savannah View platter, a selection of different spiced meats, including the noble Venison. Once tasted, the African flavors will live long in your memory.

Not to be missed

A giraffe met during the Nature and Wildlife drive

The Nature and Wildlife drive was the highlight of my stay in Anantara Al Sahel Villas. Take a seat in a Safari Jeep and watch free-roaming animals in a complete natural setting, including Arabian oryx, sand and mountain gazelles, Barbary sheep, cheetahs and giraffes. Most of the routes are along dirt tracks, adding to the authenticity of the wilderness experience. Wildlife guide Ayoub was very knowledgeable about the fauna and flora and went out of his way to find the best viewing spots. We were lucky to spot two cheetahs’ brothers, stalking on a young gazelle. Book an early-morning drive, when animals go out to feed and hunt.

The last words

Perfect balance between adventure and serenity, Anantara Al Sahel Villas is the postcard-perfect image of the wilds of Africa that will completely disconnect you from the hustle and bustle of Dubai.

How to get there:

Sir Bani Yas Island can be reached by three modes of transport:

  • Car:  Follow the E11 highway directly from Abu Dhabi or Dubai in the direction of Tarif and Mirfa, towards Ghweifat and Saudi Arabia. Take exit 113 marked Sir Bani Yas Island. Follow the clearly marked road and take the exit for Sir Bani Yas and Jebel Dhana Jetty.

  • Boat: Cruise to Sir Bani Yas Island on your own boat. Dock your boat at the Royal Bay Moorings and enjoy your stay at the island

  • Plane: Sea Wings operate charter flights from Dubai Creek to Sir Bani Yas Island. You must book with them seperately here, or call them on 04 807 0708.

For more information, visit or call +971 2 801 4300

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