Amidst the toughest real estate slowdown in decades, Abu Dhabi announced a breathtaking a new five-star luxury resort that epitomizes the culture and roots of the United Arab Emirates. Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, which officially opened October 25, 2009, is the first-of-its-kind resort to deliver hospitality and an ambiance, reflective of genuine Emirati culture, to the world.
Situated in the Empty Quarter (Rub Al Khali), the world's largest stretch of uninterrupted desert, Qasr Al Sarab is a true phenomenon - a landmark that smoothly blends into its pristine surrounding environment and a destination rich in history with settlements dating back to as far as 7,000 years ago.
Developed by Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), a master developer of cultural, residential and tourism destinations in Abu Dhabi, Qasr Al Sarab has ensured that every element throughout the resort has been carefully designed to reflect a truly authentic experience that is indigenous to the surrounding region. On the journey to the resort, visitors will be captivated by the serenity of the desert landscape and overwhelmed by the magnificent dune formations, as the resort remains tranquilly tucked away. A few hundred meters in the distance, perched atop a crescent-shaped dune, the true splendor of the fort-inspired design is suddenly revealed. Offering 154 rooms, 42 villas and 10 royal villas resembling majestic palaces with spacious living and dining areas, private pools and outdoor terraces, Qasr Al Sarab is a haven of exceptional comfort and pure extravagance.
His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of TDIC and Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), commented: "We are extremely proud of Qasr Al Sarab and the inspirational story behind its conception. This is more than just an extraordinary luxury resort; this is a symbol of our highly admired and respected Arabian hospitality and deep-rooted culture. Most of all, we owe this splendor to our forefathers who were born and raised in this rich Liwa Oasis and their visionary leadership which had become the influence behind our present-day progressive evolution. We take great pride for the vision of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, and the tremendous support of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, for embracing the UAE's heritage through world-class developments in Abu Dhabi."
Just 90 minutes driving distance from Abu Dhabi and seven kilometers from the main Hamim Highway crossing the Rub al Khali desert, Qasr Al Sarab is the ultimate experiential getaway with a luxury health spa, conference centre, outdoor pool, children's playground and adventure excursions.
Mubarak Hamad Al Muhairi, Managing Director of TDIC, stated: "Abu Dhabi's tourism industry is continuously growing and the launch of this unique development will ensure that visitors to our nation will have the opportunity to experience the true culture and rich history that the UAE has to offer. The experience we have created is a unique balance of Emirati culture, breathtaking views and the best standards of international hospitality. Every element of Qasr Al Sarab, right down to the finest detail, has remained faithful to Arab culture while embracing the rich history and heritage of the UAE," said Mubarak.
Guests will be captivated by the natural beauty of Qasr Al Sarab and given the chance to explore the vast landscapes and the adjoined 9000-square kilometer protected wildlife reserve - the largest in the UAE. The reserve is abundant with wildlife where thousands of free-roaming indigenous animals, such as the famed Arabian Oryx, sand gazelle and Arabian hare, add a spectacular real-life Arabian experience to visitors. The resort comprises a desert experience centre designed to educate guests on the surrounding environment and to offer activities relevant to the region including falconry, camel riding and desert exploration.
Venturing across the desert on a camel in true Bedouin style is another activity that offers guests the chance to discover this intriguing territory, where the late British explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger thoroughly explored during his journey across the Empty Quarter between 1945 and 1949. Visitors will be exposed to the rich history of the surrounding area, experience the remnants of Stone Age settlements and listen to age-old tales narrated by storytellers. After dark, guests will be given the opportunity to experience the art of stargazing from a vantage point on an ochre red dune, reminiscent of the astronomical discoveries made in the Arab world during the Islamic golden age spanning the 8th to 16th centuries.
Lee Tabler, Chief Executive Officer of TDIC, highlighted the significance of the resort's design to Abu Dhabi's heritage. "The architecture, interior design and works of art accurately reflect the traditions of the region with all artifacts hand-picked from the Gulf and the Middle East. As with all our developments, we remain focused on protecting the natural environment and ensuring sustainable design, build and maintenance. Integral to all of TDIC's projects is ensuring distinctive and sustainable developments that preserve the history and heritage of the UAE. It is this commitment and determination that is supporting Abu Dhabi's 2030 economic and strategic vision.
"Following the success of the Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara, we are once again proud to be partnering with the award-winning Thai hospitality brand Anantara on this landmark resort while we continue to provide visitors with a true taste of the UAE," Tabler added.
In keeping with the local theme of the resort, guests can explore a wealth of dining options, including fruit-soaked tajines, succulent kebabs and national delicacies prepared traditionally and on the open flame grills in a Bedouin tent experience. Visitors can also enjoy the rich aromas and tastes of Arabic coffees and sweet tea as they relax in the enchanting desert surroundings at the Al Liwan Qasr Al Sarab, a traditional Arabian-styled lounge setting which comprises a library of literature and a collection of artifacts from around the region. Meanwhile, Ghadeer Qasr Al Sarab offers alfresco dining and the opportunity to take in the wondrous views of the sand dunes as well as the pool and its facilities.
Didier Tourneboeuf, Area General Manager of Anantara, commented: "Qasr Al Sarab's development is very close to our hearts, and is a direct result of Anantara's revered reputation as well as the hotel's unique concept and truly amazing location. This resort is truly a one-of-a-kind prized gem and we are highly proud to be associated with such a remarkable development, just as we have with the other TDIC-developed five-star resort on Sir Bani Yas Island which we are so privileged to operate.
"For Anantara, the launch of Qasr Al Sarab sets yet another distinguished benchmark in the company's extensive global expansion plans, while providing an exemplary blend of effortless luxury and passionate integration of local culture," said Tourneboeuf.