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Let’s Go Outside: 22 desert pop-ups to enjoy this winter

Head to the desert dunes for an idyllic escape away from the hustle and bustle of city life, plus some seriously Instagrammable moments. 

Nestled amidst the vast expanse of the desert, whimsical pop-up cafes emerge like oases, offering respite to wanderers and explorers. Vibrant umbrellas and chairs create a colourful contrast against the golden sand dunes. Aromatic coffee wafts through the air as visitors savour freshly baked pastries, street food and sweet treats. With its eclectic decor and welcoming atmosphere, this transient haven becomes a haven for both locals and intrepid travellers, turning the harsh desert into an unexpected haven for connection and community. These are the best desert pop-ups in the UAE to enjoy this winter.

Al Fayy Restaurant and Cafe

Al Fayy Restaurant and Cafe is a popular desert spot in Sharjah, offering a delightful blend of traditional Emirati cuisine and modern cafe fare. The spacious outdoor seating is perfect for enjoying the cool evenings amidst a cosy atmosphere with warm hospitality and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and spices. Remember to save room for their delectable desserts, such as the popular Umm Ali and kunafa.

GO: Follow @alfayy.shams on Instagram for more information.

Cafe Âme

Cafe Âme, meaning “soul cafe” in French, is nestled amidst the dunes of the Al Qudra desert. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by a serene atmosphere created by the cafe’s rustic wooden structure and lush greenery. Take a seat on the outdoor terrace and soak in the views of the desert landscape as you escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and reconnect with nature. Cafe Âme’s menu features a selection of light bites and refreshing beverages, perfect for a post-adventure snack. If you’re lucky, you may even spot the resident flamingos.

GO: Follow @cafeame on Instagram for more information.

Caia Bamboo

Dining in a culinary oasis amidst the expanse of the desert just got a whole lot more exciting with the emergence of the Caia Bamboo pop-up located in the serene enclave of Al-Marmoum Conservation Reserve. And here’s the cherry on top – it’s His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum-approved. At Caia Bamboo, the menu mirrors the offerings of the original location on Al Wasl Road. It’s a haven for those who appreciate modern French desserts, scrumptious breakfast options, and signature coffee complemented by refreshing drinks.

GO: Follow on Instagram for more information.

Calm Cafe

Nestled in the heart of Sharjah, the charming Hideaway by Calm Cafe provides a space to unwind and enjoy delicious food and drinks in a desert setting. The cafe’s menu features everything from light bites and salads to hearty sandwiches and wraps. Their coffee is known for its rich flavour and smooth texture, while their selection of teas includes refreshing iced teas for a hot day and warm cups of herbal tea to soothe your soul.

GO: Follow on Instagram for more information.


Common, not to be confused with “The Uncommon”, is anything but ordinary when it comes to desert pop-ups. Tucked away in Sharjah’s Al Faya desert of Sharjah, this unique experience offers a captivating blend of nature, community, and creativity. Forget plastic chairs and flimsy tents because Common boasts a chic and contemporary design, with geometric structures seamlessly merging into the sandy landscape. Common takes its brews seriously, and its menu features speciality coffees and teas, as well as light bites and snacks to satisfy your cravings.

GO: Follow on Instagram for more information.


Embrace the cool winter breeze at Elsewhere, a mesmerising winter pop-up experience nestled amidst the rolling dunes of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. Step into a wonderland of twinkling fairy lights, plush cushions scattered across the sand, and cosy hammocks swaying gently in the desert breeze. The pop-up’s culinary offerings involve a variety of food trucks, ranging from gourmet burgers and wood-fired pizzas to healthy salads and refreshing smoothies. Don’t forget to indulge in their signature hot chocolate, perfect for warming up on a chilly desert evening.

GO: Follow on Instagram for more information.

Hidden Dubai

Hidden Dubai is a pop-up cafe located in the Dubai desert close to Al Lisaili. The cafe is known for its boho-chic vibes, with rope deck chairs, cosy campfires, earthy woven bean bags, and rattan sofas covered in plush cushions. The whole area is surrounded by palm trees, offering dappled shade to curl up with a coffee as the sun sets. The star feature of Hidden Dubai is a mirrored installation that reflects the picturesque setting around you, making it a perfect photo opportunity. The cafe offers a variety of hot and cold drinks, as well as snacks and burgers.

GO: Follow @hidden_dubai on Instagram for more information.

Hubara Hills Cafe

Located on Al Qudra Road, Hubara Hills Cafe is a scenic spot that has become a social media sensation. The pet-friendly spot offers an elevated take on desert dining with its menu of Lobster Pasta and speciality coffee. The boho-chic decor features knotted ropes, wooden furniture and potted plants.

GO: Follow @hubara_hills_cafe on Instagram for more information.

Klock Cafe

Centred around a large illuminated clock, Klock Cafe is a winter cafe serving marshmallow-topped hot chocolates, Spanish lattes and karak tea. In addition to the Instagrammable beverage options, a selection of appealing desserts includes tiramisu, honey cake, pistachio cake and cookies. With swinging seats and a resident falcon, Klock Cafe is situated approximately a 30-minute drive from Downtown Dubai on the road to Lahbab. Klock Cafe is open daily from 4pm to midnight.

GO: Follow @klock_cafe on Instagram for more information.


Escape the urban mirage and find solace at Limited, a mirage-like desert cafe nestled on the shores of Al Marmoom Lakes in Al Qudra. This collaborative venture between Bound Burgers, Sillage, and Stuffed Bun offers a limited menu highlighting quality over quantity. Indulge in juicy Bound Burgers with premium Wagyu beef and homemade sauces. Satiate your sweet tooth with decadent Stuffed Buns, bursting with innovative flavours. Then, refresh yourself with aromatic coffees and vibrant mocktails from Sillage while taking in the tranquil setting.

GO: Follow on Instagram for more information.

Link by Mara

This pop-up in Sharjah’s Aljada offers an appealing street food menu. Here, plush sofas are sunken into the desert sands, or you can sit on comfy bean bags. No matter which you decide, you’ll have the ideal vantage point from which to watch the nightly fire shows and oud musicians. Link by Mara’s menu includes mini beef tacos, shakshuka bruschetta, Korean chicken pops, short rib sliders and a brownie club sandwich. Link by Mara is open daily from 4pm to 2am (3am on weekends).

GO: Follow @linkbymara on Instagram for more information.


A taste of Zanzibar has arrived in the Northern Emirates with the opening of Case Mikoko at Umm Al Quwain Mangrove Beach. The beautiful restaurant overlooks the mangroves and the menu features breakfast favourites, pizza, pasta and risotto. Adventure activities such as mangrove tours, kayaking and stand-up paddleboards are also available. Mikoko Hut is open daily from 8am to 10pm.

GO: Follow @casamikoko.uaq on Instagram for more information.

My Space Coffee

My Space Coffee is a unique spot for caffeination in Sharjah’s Al Madam desert. The cafe features al fresco seating scattered across the sand, with rocking chairs, swings, and mini-enclosed stalls. This allows guests to enjoy the beautiful desert scenery and starry night sky while sipping hot and cold speciality coffees. They also have a selection of sweet treats, such as molten chocolate cake and coconut cake.

GO: Follow on Instagram for more information.

Not A Space

This popular desert destination in Al Faya offers a tranquil escape less than one hour from Dubai. Nestled amidst orange sand dunes and rocky outcrops, Not A Space (as the name suggests) is a versatile desert pop-up that’s home to a small cafe, nightly entertainment and a programme of activities that includes art and fitness classes. The themed space has comfortable seating, plenty of mirrors and images of the moon – just perfect for a night out under the stars. Not A Space is currently open 24 hours a day.

GO: Follow @notaspace on Instagram for more information.


Immerse yourself in a desert oasis at Obeli, a new desert pop-up experience located in the dunes of Al Marmoom. The popular City Walk cafe has moved outside for the winter months, offering delectable bites and beverages beneath the vast desert sky. Step into a world of bohemian bliss and enjoy gourmet burgers, wood-fired pizzas, crisp salads and refreshing smoothies. Plus, their signature hot chocolate is perfect for warming up on a chilly desert evening.

GO: Follow @obelidubai on Instagram for more information.

One Degree Cafe

Jumeirah coffee house, One Degree Cafe, has taken up residence in the Sharjah desert close to the town of Margham. The menu at this winter pop-up features all of your favourite One Degree coffees and shakes, alongside burgers, hotdogs and tempting desserts. With cushioned seating, carpets and fire pits to toast marshmallows, it’s a beautiful spot to watch the daily entertainment, including a fire show and live oud music. One Degree Cafe is open daily from 3pm to 1am.

GO: Follow on Instagram for more information.


“Sadeem ” is an Arabic word for “nebulae” and this new desert concept embodies the idea of communal dining under the stars. Situated in the Al Mamoum Desert, Sadeem is identifiable by its illuminated archways leading to a circular dining area surrounded by firepits. The desert popup has quickly gained a reputation for speciality coffee and a menu of casual classics such as Chicken Satay Baos, Chilly Honey Yuzu Chicken Sticks, Corn Cheese Cubes, Fried Mac N Cheese and Truffle Arancini. The restaurant has been attracting crowds, including His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

GO: Follow @sadeemdubai on Instagram for more information.

Salt Camp

The famous campsite pop-up has returned for another season in Dubai. Home to some of the best burgers in the UAE, Salt Camp has relocated from DIFC and into a prime location beneath the Museum Of The Future. With no reservations or entry fees required, guests can experience camping in the city while tucking into Salt’s ever-popular burgers, fries, softies and desserts. This year promises to be bigger and better with a Japanese theme, live entertainment and Salt merchandise for purchase. Salt Camp is open daily from 12pm to midnight.

GO: Follow @findsaltcamp on Instagram for more information.

Sonara Camp Al Wadi

Instagrammable desert hotspot Sonara Camp has opened a second location in Ras Al Khaimah’s stunning Al Wadi Nature Reserve. An epicurean adventure awaits guests who partake in the Sunset and Dinner experience, where a curated menu featuring the finest Mediterranean and local Arabic ingredients creates a medley of fusion dishes. Sonara Camp Al Wadi is open daily from 4:30pm to 10:30pm. AED 690 for adults and AED 300 for children aged six to twelve.

GO: Follow @sonara_camp on Instagram for more information.

Tea Lounge

Step beyond the sand dunes and into an oasis of tranquillity at Tea Lounge in the Al Madam desert. Sit on a swing chair amidst a sea of plush, low-lying tables and beanbags, each adorned with delicate teacups and glowing lanterns. Savour a meticulously curated selection of loose-leaf brews and light bites, from floral Darjeelings to sandwiches, salads, and scones. And for a touch of decadence, don’t miss their signature dates dipped in rich Belgian chocolate.

GO: Follow on Instagram for more information.

The Dome

This new spot on the outskirts of Ras Al Khaimah offers a tented dining room amidst the orange-coloured dunes. Come for quad-biking or sunset and stay for the menu of coffee, cakes and comfort food (the pizzas look exceptional). The structure has translucent sides so you can witness the beauty of the desert in full comfort away from the elements. The Dome is open daily from 5pm to midnight.

GO: Follow on Instagram for more information.

The Uncommon 

This stunning mirrored pop-up in the Sharjah desert seemingly appeared out of nowhere two years ago and has become one of the most popular desert pop-ups in the UAE. A large mirror reflects the beauty of the desert landscape and is surrounded by cosy seating areas where guests can enjoy a selection of hot and cold beverages. The Uncommon is open daily from 3pm to midnight.

GO: Follow on Instagram for more information.

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David Tapley - Editor-in-Chief
As editor-in-chief of the region’s most fiercely local lifestyle publication, David is a self-proclaimed hip-hop aficionado, championing all things food, travel, street art, and streetwear across the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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