Discovering Love Lake: A Peaceful Getaway in the Heart of Dubai’s Desert

As the sun begins to dip below the horizon, a steady line of four-wheel drives and a few hardy little sedans pour into the Al Qudra Oasis on the outskirts of Dubai. The sky is tinged red, the sun a scorching orange, setting the vast lakes that interrupt the desert ablaze with color.

The vast expanses of water in the middle of Al Qudra’s desert oasis have become a popular spot for visitors. Setting up blankets and chairs, they often take group photos amidst the towering sand dunes and local fauna. This man-made oasis is home to numerous artificial lakes, making it a top recreation destination for Dubai residents. However, in 2018, the local tourist attraction gained even more popularity when a mysterious new lake appeared.

Just overnight, two beautiful lagoons shaped like hearts and filled with water appeared, atop an arrangement of vegetation that spelled out the word “love.” And so, the Love Lake was born. People flocked to its shores for its Instagram-ready backdrops, wildlife, and seclusion. In fact, on this particular night, the lake was a destination quite literally fit for royalty: As we pulled up, a Mercedes-Benz G-Class passed by with the license plate “1” – the car famously driven by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. It’s perhaps not entirely surprising – Sheikh Mohammed is frequently photographed around Al Qudra, and it was his son who unveiled the Love Lake to the world in the first place.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, surprised his followers on Instagram in November 2018 by revealing the newest tourist attraction – a series of interconnected love hearts. The aerial view of the hearts made headlines across the UAE, as they seemingly appeared overnight. However, the construction of new lakes where the hearts were placed had been underway for some time. According to a spokesperson from Sheikh Mohammed’s engineering office, the project was started on March 11, 2018 and was kept secret during its inception.

The project was executed discreetly and with minimal involvement from anyone outside the project team. The goal was to announce and unveil this beautiful project to the world as a surprise. Dubai is no stranger to man-made marvels, boasting the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, the world’s highest outdoor infinity pool at Address Beach Resort, and a few other attractions with more outrageous claims to fame – such as Ski Dubai, the largest indoor ski slope in a mall, and the Dubai Frame, the world’s largest picture frame.

According to the spokesperson, Sheikh Mohammed gave a simple brief for the Love Lake project – creating a symbol of love in the desert while also providing a unique tourist destination for couples and families. The Love Lake quickly became a social media sensation with heart motifs and signages identifying the best selfie points. Over 16,000 trees and thousands of flowering plants were specially selected and planted at the site, visible even from space.

The construction plan was carefully designed to ensure that the natural tranquility of the area was not disturbed, and sustainability was a focus from the beginning. All seating facilities were made using eco-friendly materials, including unique bamboo water sinks with traditional-style taps, as well as shaded areas and fire pits.

There is even a dedicated running track around the site – if you fancy a quick jog through the desert under the beating sun. The team also ensured that the wildlife would be taken care of. The Love Lake is home to over 150 species of birds, including eagles, ducks, swans, falcons, and flamingos. Desert wildlife such as gazelles and oryx can also be spotted if you’re lucky.

These days, the Love Lake attracts between 1,000 to 4,000 people per day and is kept in immaculate condition with a dedicated maintenance and operation team assigned specifically for that purpose. The lake is even equipped with two filling lines, with water level sensors, to ensure that the water stays topped up even in the hotter months.

Dubai wasn’t done creating surprise desert lakes yet. Earlier this year, a crescent-shaped lake appeared among the dunes, just in time for Ramadan. Moon Lake was announced via a local photographer’s Instagram page with a drone video capturing the site in its entirety. It was wholly unexpected, but celebrated excitedly.

It’s why, on a Friday afternoon, swarms of people are gathering lakeside in the middle of the desert. The mighty skyline of Dubai isn’t visible here, and escaping the day’s birdwatching or camping in the undulating dunes is a welcome moment of respite from the chaos of the city.

Just be warned: don’t attempt the drive out to the Love Lake or Moon Lake in a two-wheel-drive, no matter how plucky you may be. You

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