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Liwa Oasis, Abu Dhabi Overview

The Liwa Oasis is a 100 km long crescent shaped oasis situated 220 km north of Abu Dhabi island on the northern edge of Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter (the Ruba’ Al Khali). The oasis is one of the most important farming and pasture production regions of the UAE, making it an important part of the country, especially integral to UAE’s rural culture. The desert life you get to see at this unique oasis is completely authentic and very immersive.

Liwa Oasis is home to more than 50 villages. The most fascinating aspect is that the current rulers of various Emirati cities are actually members of families that belong to the Bani Yas tribe from Liwa Oasis. Traces of royalty can be still be felt in many parts of the Liwa Oasis. Moreover, Liwa Oasis is now very well connected to most major Emirates by multilane highways due to its importance in the UAE map. The oasis also hosts some of the highest sand dunes that have created excellent venues for some desert drag racing.

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History of Liwa Oasis

Liwa Oasis is the last settlement in the northern edge of the 650,000 km vast desert known as the Empty Quarter. The Empty Quarter also occupies territory in Saudi Arabia and hence Liwa Oasis shares its borders with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Bedouin civilisation appeared in Liwa before the 16th century, exploiting underground freshwater to cultivate dates. This resulted in the emergence of around forty villages in the region during this period. However, with the advent of the pearl industry, Liwa lost its hold on the economy of the region, causing the leading family of the Bani Yas, the Al Bu Falah (Al Nahyan family), moved to Abu Dhabi in the early 1790s.

The plantations in the oasis continued to be cultivated and several forts and towers were built to protect them. These plantations remain important to the Bani Yas tribe and one needs to make arrangements through the ADACH to visit the forts and towers since most of them are still owned privately and located on farms that are cultivated even today.

Activities at Liwa Oasis

Everything that you can do as part of the desert culture in other parts of UAE, you can do at the Liwa Oasis too, just a lot better. Numerous activities such as sandboarding, camel riding, dune bashing, desert safaris, sightseeing etc. are available for your indulgence.

However, there are two signature experiences everyone must indulge in when in Liwa Oasis:

Drag Racing at the Tal Moreeb - Not for the faint-hearted, the Tal Moreeb is among the highest sand dunes in the world. This is the place for organised drag racing, both down and up the hill. It’s located at a distance of 22 kms from the centre of the desert.

Heritage at Qasr Al Sarab - Located at the heart of the desert, this place gives you a glimpse into the past greatness of the desert civilisation. This is one of the only places where you’ll ever get the chance to truly understand the evolution of desert life.

The oasis is also home to the highest sand dunes in the country. Apart from these, certain events occur from time to time which you might be able to attend based on when you plan your trip.

Timings and Ticket Prices

Entry is free and it can be accessed at any time of the day. The desert safaris have varying packages and tour activities have different rates depending on your needs and preferences. Full day tours tend to start from AED 1000 and complete overnight tours can go up to AED 3000.

Tips For Visiting Liwa Oasis

  • Avoid the summer months, it tends to get really hot.
  • The place is not as modern as the Emirati cities so dress and behave appropriately.
  • Do not miss the Qasr Al Sarab, it’s worth going to the UAE only to experience it.

How To Reach Liwa Oasis

The only option is to drive there yourself or be a part of a tour that includes the Liwa Oasis as a part of their package. The oasis is 3 hours away from Abu Dhabi (the Liwa road E45 directly leads to the oasis). You can rent a vehicle with or without a driver.

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