Liwa Oasis is an oasis in the northern part of the Empty Quarter (Al-Rub’ al Khali in Arabic), which belongs to the western region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The Empty Quarter is one of the largest deserts in the world. The Liwa Oasis lies about 250 kilometers south to south west of the city of Abu Dhabi, the federal capital of United Arab Emirates (UAE). The oasis consists of about fifty Bedouin villages, the main village being Mezaira’a.
Liwa is a destination for foreign tourists to learn about Bedouin culture and the traditions of the UAE local people. It is also a great place to see large sand dunes. The largest dune is called Moreeb Dune, or Al Moreeb Hill (Tal Moreeb in Arabic); Tal Moreeb literally means the “scary hill” in Arabic.
Every January, the Abu Dhabi Motor Club organizes the international Tal Moreeb Festival where drag racers compete to see who can reach the top of the hill in the shortest amount of time. In March, Tal Moreeb also hosts the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, which is a charity competition for 4×4 vehicles, motorcycles, and quad motorbikes. Another important event in Liwa is the Annual Liwa Dates Festival in July. It is the main dates-related event in the oasis because the main economical source for the oasis villagers is date farming.
If travelers coming from outside the UAE want to gain access to the oasis, they should use an airline that will arrive in Abu Dhabi International Airport, then they should proceed to take a taxi or a public bus to the city of Abu Dhabi. After this, they can take either a public bus to the oasis, or they can rent a car to drive on their own.
There is a modern road with seven lanes connecting the city of Abu Dhabi with Liwa Oasis and Tel Moreeb. After the rise of tourism in recent years, many of the hotels and guest houses were opened in the oasis, especially in Mezaira’a village. Qasr Al Sarab is the only five-star, luxury hotel for travelers to the oasis. There are many Indian and traditional restaurants available there, and tourism-quality restaurants of different cuisines can be found in hotels and guest houses.
Historically, the oasis is considered the birth place of the House of Al-Nahyan, the ruling family of the Abu Dhabi Emirate, and the House of Al- Maktoum, the ruling family of the Dubai Emirate. In 1793, the Al-Nahyan family moved from the oasis to the city of Abu Dhabi, while the Al-Makoum family moved to Dubai in 1833.