Up in the Air

DUBAI Waking up at the crack of dawn is well worth the effort if you are taking the hot-air balloon to catch the first ray of sunlight touch the sand dunes of the Arabian dessert.

Balloon Adventures Emirates has been operating hot-air balloon desert flights in the UAE since 2005. And it is one of the unique experiences that can spice up a Gulf itinerary.

“We will pick you up from one of our meeting points and transfer you out to the desert, where you’ll enjoy a one-hour flight floating across the dunes while sun rises to greet us,” said company marketing manager Amber McIntyre.


Taking off just outside the Nahel Village in Sweihan, the balloon basically follows the direction of the wind, which determines its flight path and its landing site. The daily flights are done at sunrise when the weather is at its calmest.

“On the ground, our drivers follow the balloons and speak with the captain during the flight,” McIntyre added.

One balloon can carry up to 24 passengers. The company generally has three pilots on hand so they can take a maximum group of 72 passengers for one flight.

Balloon Adventures can provide the dimensions of the baskets of the flight if required so a corporate client can have an artwork or signage reproduced and attached to the basket during the trip.

If booking is done at least four months in advance, corporate groups can have the opportunity to brand their own balloon.

“This does require a large budget, but it provides continued international exposure for the sponsor,” McIntyre said.

Upon landing, cold refreshments are served and a flight certificate is given to each participants. The entire experience “door-to-door” takes approximately 4.5 hours.

The flight costs AED995 (US$271) per person.

Flights for the current season ends on May 31 and will resume on September 20 for the new season.


Gigi Onag


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