Best sustainable hotels and eco-friendly retreats in UAE 2024

Eco-Friendly Retreats in UAE, collage showing retreats

Eco-friendly Retreats in UAE (United Arab Emirates)

Join me as we explore the world of sustainable hotels and eco-friendly retreats in UAE and beautiful places where luxury meets sustainability. Having lived in the UAE for many years, it’s wonderful to see a shift to eco-tourism and unique travel experiences while preserving natural beauty and supporting the local community.

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Short on time? Here are my top picks for sustainable stays in the UAE
🦒 WildlifeAnantara Bani Yas Island Villas
Glamping – Kingfisher Retreat
🐪 DesertAl Maha Desert Resort and Spa
🏛️ Heritage Chedi Al Bait
🏙️ City Jumeirah Al Naseem 🐢

📍Recommended Sustainable Excursions in the UAE
Platinum Heritage Safari
🐪 Mleiha Desert Safari with Sandboarding, Stargazing & Dinner
🦉Desert Conservation Reserve Tour with Breakfast

Why choose eco-friendly and sustainable tourism destinations?

As travellers become more conscious of their carbon footprint and their impact on local communities, searching for eco-friendly accommodation options becomes increasingly important.

By choosing eco-friendly resorts in UAE, we can contribute to reducing the environmental impact of tourism, from conserving water and energy to minimising waste.

At the same time, guests can enjoy unique and meaningful experiences while helping to protect and enhance destinations and conserve cultural heritage and the eco-system.

Apart from protecting the environment, eco-friendly resorts often play an essential role in supporting local communities. This might be by providing employment or business opportunities, sourcing local products, or taking an active role in cultural preservation.

Sustainable tourism isn’t just about where you’ll lay your head at night but a conscious decision to travel in a way that respects and nurtures the world around us, preserving the beauty and health of our planet for future generations.

Ecotourism in UAE

Let’s take a look now at some of the best eco retreats in UAE and what makes them sustainable.

Eco-friendly Resorts in Dubai

Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa

Ratings: 5*| 9.4 Superb | Book now!

Located in Dubai’s Conservation Reserve, Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa integrates sustainability by focusing on conservation and efficient resource use, including an on-site water-recycling plant.

The design and construction of the resort and spa ensured that environmental impact was minimal. To boost the reserve, the resort planted over 6,000 indigenous trees and reintroduced native flora and fauna, such as oryx.

Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa view over the desert

Other key initiatives involve sustainable kitchen practices, such as converting used cooking oil into biodiesel, minimising food waste and using sustainably produced and caught food.

Often considered the best desert resort in UAE, Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa offers several suites, all with a beautiful and authentic Arabian interior design and a private temperature-controlled pool.

Order a floating breakfast to start your day or paint the desert with the art materials you’ll find in your room. Next, explore the reserve on one of the many tours on offer.

Stunning and unique – never forget experience – exceptional service/location/room/food. – Andrew, UK

Jumeirah Al Naseem

Ratings: 5*| 9.2 Superb | Book now!

If the desert life isn’t for you and you’re looking for sustainable hotels in Dubai city, Jumeirah Al Naseem is a great choice. Jumeirah is a name synonymous with luxury but what sets this resort apart is its turtle sanctuary.

Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project (DTRP) has created a sanctuary for sick and injured turtles in a purpose-built lagoon. Over the last 20 years, over 2000 turtles have been treated at the aquarium at Burj Al Arab, rehabilitated at the Turtle Rehabilitation Sanctuary at Jumeirah Al Naseem and finally released back into their natural habitat once fully recovered. You can visit the turtle sanctuary during your stay.

pool at Al Naseem Madinat Jumeirah with Burj Al Arab in the background

Jumeirah hotels work towards sustainability through sourcing fresh food from their own hydroponic farm and other, local farms. They also use an AI-powered food waste management system and, of course, programmes for recycling, water conservation and plastic reduction.

A place you don’t want to leave. We will definitely be back again! – Aleksandr, New Zealand

Eco-friendly Resorts in Abu Dhabi

If it’s ecotourism in Abu Dhabi you’re looking for, here are three fabulous options for you.

Anantara Qasr Al Sarab

Ratings: 5*| 9.2 Superb | Book now!

One of best desert resorts in UAE, Anantara Qasr Al Sarab is beautifully designed to blend into the desert environment. It almost looks like a movie set, doesn’t it?

A stay in the luxurious resort doesn’t need to have a negative impact on your carbon footprint though, especially as they’ve been awarded Green Globe certification.

qasr al sarab hotel with a deep dune along the side

Qasr Al Sarab uses solar energy to power some parts of the resort and utilises a smart system for efficient water and power consumption. Food waste is reduced by creating compost to fertilise their own garden where organic herbs and vegetables grow and supply the kitchens.

Greywater is recycled via the hotel garden irrigation system, single-use bottles are plant-based and biodegradable and their recycling programme includes oil and soap.

I have no words to describe this place. It is out of this world, especially the location. You feel like you are in a sort of Arab fairytale. The view is astonishing, breathtaking. The hotel is in the middle of sand dunes, rooms are excellent. You have to stay at this hotel once in your life. Luxurious hotel in an outstanding location with superb facilities. – Visiola, Belgium

Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Villas, Saadiyat Island

Ratings: 5*| 8.9 | Book now!

Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Villas is in the protected area of Saadiyat Island. During its planning and construction, care was taken to protect the habitat of turtles living in the area.

You can learn more about Hawksbill sea turtles during your stay from their marine biologist and if you’re there in the summer months, you can see the nesting sites and possibly a turtle hatching and heading for the sea. On eco-boat tours, you can enjoy snorkelling, swimming and dolphin-spotting.

Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi hotel with pond and gardens in the foreground

Saadiyat beach has been awarded the Blue Flag award and beach clean-up activities are part of the hotel’s initiatives. Other Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Villas credentials include LEED certification and the Forbes Travel Guide ‘Sharecare’. 

The resort also has its own organic herb garden and has branched out to some fruit and vegetables, which you can savour in one of their five restaurants.

An exceptional experience that exceeded all expectations. – Fernando, Argentina

Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island – Al Sahel Villas

Ratings: 5*| 8.6 | Book now!

Sir Bani Yas Island is an island wildlife sanctuary in the Arabian Gulf. It is home to Desert Island Resort and Spa and two villa destinations, with some shared areas and facilities, but more importantly to a range of wildlife. Sir Bani Yas Island Al Sahel offers African-styled villas on the savannah.

Anantara, as a brand, focuses heavily on sustainability, aiming to preserve the surrounding environment and heritage, nurture the local community and create awareness. Their on-site initiatives include food waste management and sourcing local produce and durable products.

Cheetah free-roaming among grasses on Sir Bani Yas Island in Abu Dhabi

Prepare for an exciting stay with wildlife safaris, wadi walks, kayaking and, of course, relaxing on the pristine white sands. Don’t forget your camera to snap endangered oryx as well as free-roaming giraffes, ostriches and cheetahs. Soak up history with a trip to the many archaeological sites, including a 6th century Christian monastery.

The villas are beautifully done up and the service is fantastic. The family had a brilliant time. Kids, in particular, love the fact that peacocks and hyrexs come up to the villa. We saw so many different animals. – Kee, Singapore

Eco-friendly Resorts in Sharjah

Shurooq are continuously working on ecotourism in Sharjah and coming up with more excellent eco-friendly retreats for you. Several of the retreats (some still under development) are repurposed buildings such as pearl merchants’ houses, shops and clinics. What’s more, they’re all halal eco resorts.

Chedi Al Bait

Ratings: 5*| 9.4 | Book now!

The Chedi Al Bait is part of a larger sustainable project, The Heart of Sharjah. The destination consists of restored merchants’ homes and repurposing buildings and honouring heritage are key features of Shurooq’s sustainability initiatives.

Surrounded by old souqs, museums and art spaces, Chedi Al Bait has largely retained its Emirati style with a little bit of modernity subtly blended in. Its other sustainable practices include composting food waste for the hotel gardens, a zero-waste policy, zero plastic and an on-site water filtration system.

restored merchants houses with arches at chedi al bait sharjah

Relax with a drink in the courtyard or next to the pool, read in the library or enjoy a treatment in the spa with only organic products. Next, head out to explore the Heart of Sharjah.

The history, the architecture, and especially the hospitality left me in awe and without any regret for booking a room here. – Jayde, USA

Kingfisher Retreat, Kalba

Ratings: 5*| 9.1 | Book now!

Perhaps a lesser known eco retreat in UAE, Kingfisher Retreat is high up the list when it comes to sustainable tourism. Located on an island only accessible by boat, the resort is a collection of spacious glamping tents, each with their own plunge pool, water view and privacy guaranteed.

The halal eco resort is set within Khor Kalba Nature Reserve and when you take a walk, you can enjoy sightings of Arabian gazelles and a variety of birds, some living there all year and some migratory. It goes without saying that you should look out for kingfishers.

large luxury tent with brush in the foreground and mountain in the background at kingfisher retreat kalba

The surrounding mangrove forest was mostly closed to the public around 13 years ago when the conservation project started. After much cleaning up and nurturing during this time, it has once again become a safe and healthy sanctuary for turtles from the Indian Ocean.

In Khor Kalba Mangrove Centre nearby, you may see sick or injured turtles being rehabilitated before returning to the sea. And hopefully you’ll see some healthy ones swimming around near the retreat.

During your stay at the Kingfisher Retreat, one of the best eco retreats in UAE, you can enjoy kayaking, archery, cycling and relaxing at the spa or the beach. You can also go fishing or hiking with guides or nearby in Kalba.

Beautiful location, natural and very unspoilt. Great room and great service. Great food, and great things to do. Really ally hard to fault. – Christopher, UAE

If you’re looking for a desert resort in Sharjah, see Badayer Retreat and you might also like the nearby Moon Retreat.

Eco-friendly Resorts in Ajman

Bahi Ajman Palace Hotel

Ratings: 5*| 8.3 | Book now!

Bahi Ajman Palace is known for its creative sustainability and social responsibility initiatives, including mangrove planting and clothes recycling. These events involve the hotel staff and the local community, creating more awareness.

Other initiatives include composting food waste, reducing plastic waste by converting it to yarn, replacing plastic bags with recycled cloth bags made in-house, and selling second-hand clothes to raise money for charity. Other community support includes free health check days.

Hotel with sheltered pool and beach and sea in the background

Bahi Ajman Palace beach hotel received the Green Key Award for its commitment to environmental and community wellbeing, especially its efficient resource management and efforts to reduce environmental impact.

The staff were very friendly and helpful and really went out of their way to make our stay pleasant, particularly at checkin. The room was lovely and there was a good choice of food at dinner and breakfast. – Imogen, UAE

Eco-friendly Resorts in Ras Al Khaimah

RAK Tourist Board have amazing plans for ecotourism in Ras Al Khaimah, so watch out for them coming soon. In the meantime,  check this gorgeous eco retreat in Ras Al Khaimah

The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah – Al Wadi Desert, Ras al Khaimah

Ratings: 5*| 8.9 | Book now!

The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert, is located in Al Wadi Nature Reserve. Sprawling over 500 hectares, the reserve is home to Arabian gazelles, Arabian oryx, sand gazelles, red foxes and more than twenty species of birds.

During your stay, you can enjoy horse or camel riding, cycling, archery, visit the Falconry School or explore the desert with one of the resort rangers. For something more soothing, immerse yourself in The Rainforest shower, unwind at the spa or relax in the beautiful Arabian heritage-themed rooms and enjoy the desert view.

Ritz-Carlton Al Wadi Desert is one of the most popular luxury desert resorts in UAE and has over a hundred private villas, each with a private plunge pool. It has several dining options to suit all palates, including a barbecue in the desert.

A unique oasis in the Al Wadi Desert with beautiful view over the desert. Beautiful and large villas with private pool. Excellent for couples who wants some privacy and intimacy in their vacation. – Olavi, Finland.

Eco-friendly Resorts in Umm Al Quwain

Casa Mikoko, Mangrove Beach

Ratings: | 8.0 | Book now!

Casa Mikoko is the new kid on the block having opened just a few months ago. Their African-inspired bungalows, which are nestled between the mangroves, are built using natural materials that blend in with the environment and cause minimal impact.

The eco-retreat hosted an event recently with Emirates Wildlife Foundation that included mangrove planting and conservation awareness as well as the community event UAQ Art 24.

walkway through the Mangrove forest,  leading the resort of Casa Mikoko

Umm Al Quwain Mangrove Forest is one of the largest in the UAE and includes the reserve of Khor Al Beida, home to a wide variety of birds including many migratory ones.

During your stay at Casa Mikoko, you can enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding and exploring the mangroves on a boat tour. If that’s not enough, you can also take kite-surfing lessons.

Everything is absolutely amazing & highly recommended place. Booked already for the next visit. – Khalifa, UAE

Eco-friendly Resorts in Musandam

Okay, so Musandam is not in the UAE, but with a fabulous resort just a few miles over the border, we couldn’t miss it off the list! In case you didn’t know, Musandam is an Omani enclave to the north of the UAE.

Six Senses Zighy Bay

Ratings: 5*| 9.2 | Book now!

Six Senses Zighy Bay has an impressive sustainability programme, including planting over 5,000 trees, organising sea and beach clean-ups and contributing to marine conservation and community development.

They also have a zero-waste policy, food waste management system, and energy conservation programme. The gardens and organic farm are irrigated with grey water, and bottled water is produced on-site by reverse osmosis. Guests are welcome to see and learn more about their sustainability initiatives.

View of private pool, shade and seating across to beach and sea at zighy bay six senses Musandam

The most unique feature of Zighy Bay is that you don’t have to arrive by car. Instead, you can choose to paraglide in James Bond style!

The resort sits on one side of a secluded bay, with the village of Zighy on the other. It’s the perfect place to relax on the white beach or in your private pool overlooking the Indian Ocean. If you prefer adventure, you can go sea-kayaking, fishing or hiking in the mountains of Dibba Musandam.

Fantastic resort. Beach Villa was great, staff were perfect, food was great. Loved snorkelling, paddle boarding and kayaking to see turtles. Go for a Beachfront Villa if you can. – Paul, UK

More ecotourism in UAE – eco day trips

For eco days outs, you can book Suwaidi Pearl Farm Tour or visit one of EPAA Sharjah’s reserves, such as Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre in Kalba or Wasit Wetlands in Sharjah.

Platinum Heritage also do fabulous day trips and over night trips. Most importantly, they are more authentic than the popular desert tours, focusing on local heritage and respecting cultural and religious norms. Have a look at their Platinum Heritage Safari or book yourself a place on their Desert Conservation Reserve Tour with Breakfast.

For Sharjah desert, you can book Mleiha Desert Safari with Sandboarding, Stargazing & Dinner for a fabulous experience.

Wrap up on sustainable tourism and eco-friendly retreats in UAE

That wraps up our choice of eco-friendly retreats in UAE. We’ve looked at serene desert escapes in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah, cultural havens in Sharjah, emerging eco projects in Ajman and Umm Al Quwain and a secluded bay in the neighbouring enclave of Musandam.

Each destination offers a unique way to experience the beauty of the land while supporting the preservation of the region’s natural and cultural heritage for future generations, making them the perfect choice for conscious travellers in 2024.

Now, with so many great choices, all you have to do is decide which eco retreat in UAE you’ll visit first!

If you liked this, you might also like Cute Places to Stay in UAE or Seven Best Reasons to Visit Sharjah.

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