Liwa Oasis Area Guide 2024

Dictricts Liwa Oasis Area Guide 2024
~13 min


Liwa Oasis, located near the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, stands as one of the largest oases in the region. Formerly recognized as Bu Fallah Desert, it earned its name, 'Liwa,' from the Arabic term 'Aljawaa,' signifying either a serene resting place or a verdant oasis. This captivating oasis holds significant importance, situated 250 kilometers south of Abu Dhabi, along the northern border of the Empty Quarter, also known as the Ruba’ Al Khali Desert. As a prominent feature in the UAE, Liwa Oasis boasts both historical significance and natural beauty, making it a compelling destination for exploration and appreciation.

History of Liwa Oasis

Liwa Oasis holds a rich historical legacy, serving as the birthplace of the ruling families of both Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The roots of its significance trace back to the 18th century when, in 1793, the ruling Al Nahyan family relocated their residence from Liwa to Abu Dhabi, marking a pivotal moment in the oasis's history.

Traditionally, the resilient men of Liwa, belonging to the Bani Yas tribe, engaged in pearl diving along the coast during the summer months. This ancient practice not only showcased the adaptability of the local inhabitants but also provided them with an additional source of income. The historical context of pearl diving adds a unique layer to Liwa's narrative, illustrating the diverse livelihoods and skills that have shaped the oasis's identity over time.

As the oasis evolved, the transition of the ruling family's residence to Abu Dhabi marked a shift in the dynamics of Liwa. The historical connection between Liwa and the ruling families remains a testament to the enduring significance of this oasis in the broader context of the United Arab Emirates. The evolution over time reflects the adaptability and resilience of the people of Liwa, contributing to the rich tapestry of history that defines this remarkable oasis.

Geography and Environment

Liwa Oasis, positioned approximately 97.6 km south of the Persian Gulf coast and 250 km southwest of Abu Dhabi, presents a captivating geographical and architectural tapestry. Situated on the northern edge of the vast Rub' al Khali desert, Liwa spans about 100 km east-west, forming an arch that curves to the north. Comprising approximately 50 villages, the oasis is a unique blend of tradition and modernity. The central hub, Muzayri`, serves as both the geographic and economic nucleus, with a distinctive layout influenced by the oasis's historical and cultural significance.

The villages within Liwa Oasis, the southernmost settlements of Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates, add a distinctive charm to the region. The southern border of Abu Dhabi with Saudi Arabia, situated between 16 and 35 km from the Oasis, traces a straight line through the uninhabited expanse of the Rub al Khali desert. Notably, Mahdar Bin `Usayyan stands as the southernmost village of the Emirates and the easternmost within the oasis. Despite its proximity, there is no direct road linking Liwa Oasis to the Saudi oil facility, Shaybah.

Liwa experiences only two main seasons—winter and summer—separated by transitional periods. The weather in Liwa can be characterized as an arid desert climate. From December through March, temperatures range from 16.4 degrees Celsius to 24 degrees Celsius, providing a pleasant respite during the winter months. The unique climate contributes to the oasis's appeal, making it a destination that showcases the beauty of the desert landscape in both its architecture and natural surroundings.

Key Attractions

  1. Empty Quarter (Rub' al Khali). A breathtaking sea of untouched dunes, the Empty Quarter stands as a magnificent natural wonder in Liwa Oasis. This vast expanse of sand, untouched by mankind, showcases the raw beauty of the desert landscape.

  2. Tel Moreeb. As the UAE's tallest sand dune and one of the world's largest, Tel Moreeb is a must-visit attraction for those seeking an adrenaline rush. Aptly named the 'scary mountain,' it offers a thrilling challenge for those inclined to climb its towering heights.

  3. Fort Dhafeer. Among the many forts strategically positioned across the oasis, Fort Dhafeer stands out as a testament to historical defense measures. Resembling a sand castle, this fort adds a touch of history and architectural charm to the Liwa Oasis.

  4. Self 4x4 Drive on Liwa Empty Quarter. For adventure enthusiasts, a self-driven 4x4 experience through the Liwa Empty Quarter is a highlight. This allows visitors to immerse themselves in the vastness of the desert, exploring its enchanting terrain at their own pace.

Here are some tips for visiting

  • Best Time to Visit. Consider planning your visit during the winter months, from December to March, when temperatures are milder, ranging from 16.4 to 24 degrees Celsius.

  • Ticket Information. Attractions like Tel Moreeb may require specific permits or entrance fees, so it's advisable to check in advance. Additionally, for self-driven experiences, ensure your vehicle is equipped for desert exploration and adhere to any local regulations.

Culture and Lifestyle

Liwa Oasis is steeped in a rich cultural tapestry, reflecting the heritage and traditions of its inhabitants. The local culture is deeply rooted in the history of the Bani Yas tribe, with influences from the broader Emirati identity. The lifestyle in Liwa is a harmonious blend of traditional values and modern influences, creating a unique and captivating atmosphere.

The traditional architecture of the villages in Liwa showcases the craftsmanship of the locals, with structures that provide respite from the desert heat. The vibrant colors and intricate designs of these buildings offer a visual representation of the cultural richness embedded in the oasis.

Medical Facilities

Two nearby establishments contribute significantly to the medical infrastructure in the region:

  1. Liwa Medical Centre stands as a vital healthcare facility within the oasis, providing essential medical services to the residents and those passing through the region. Equipped with medical professionals and resources, the center plays a crucial role in addressing primary healthcare needs, offering a convenient option for routine medical consultations and minor health concerns.

  2. Liwa Hospital. With a broader scope of medical services, Liwa Hospital is well-equipped to handle more complex health issues and emergencies. This facility likely plays a pivotal role in ensuring the well-being of the local population and providing a higher level of medical care when needed.


  1. Liwa Hotel, nestled in Muzayri’, stands as a four-star haven for tourists seeking both comfort and breathtaking views. With impressive panoramas of Liwa Oasis on one side and the Ruba’ Al Khali Desert on the other, the hotel offers a luxurious experience. Guests can indulge in high-quality comfort and grandeur, making Liwa Hotel a desirable retreat in the heart of the oasis.

  2. Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara. For those seeking unparalleled luxury, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara stands out as a 5-star gem. This resort is a true oasis of opulence, featuring a Thai spa, a swimming pool, a dedicated kids’ club, Jacuzzis, steam rooms, a gym, and more. It offers an exquisite blend of comfort and indulgence, making it a heavenly retreat for enthusiasts of luxury and relaxation.

  3. Liwa Nights Bedouin Glamping Retreat. For those seeking a unique and authentic experience, Liwa Nights Bedouin Glamping Retreat offers a special kind of accommodation. Combining the charm of traditional Bedouin lifestyle with modern glamping amenities, it provides a memorable stay under the desert stars.


Liwa Oasis, while a captivating destination, does not have a highly developed local transportation system. Travelers often rely on the following options for accessibility within the oasis:

  1. Bus X60 from Abu Dhabi. A cost-effective option is Bus X60, providing a direct link from Abu Dhabi to Liwa Oasis. The journey takes approximately 3 hours, offering passengers a scenic route to their destination.

  2. Car. Driving remains a popular choice for visitors, with a well-connected road network. The journey from Abu Dhabi to Liwa Oasis by car covers around 216 km and takes about 2 hours, providing flexibility and convenience for exploration.

  3. Taxi. Taxis offer a convenient alternative for those seeking a more personalized travel experience. While the journey time may vary, taking a taxi provides the flexibility to enjoy the desert landscape at one's own pace.

Tips for navigating the area include

  1. Plan Ahead. Given the limited local transportation options, it's advisable to plan your journey in advance. Consider the duration of travel and choose a mode of transportation that aligns with your preferences and schedule.

  2. Car Rentals. For increased flexibility and independence, renting a car is a practical option. It allows you to explore Liwa Oasis and its surroundings at your own pace, visiting attractions at your convenience.

  3. Local Guidance. Seek advice from locals or accommodations regarding the best transportation options for specific destinations within Liwa Oasis. They can provide valuable insights and recommendations.

Special Events

  1. Al Gharbia Water Sports Festival. This festival celebrates the water sports culture in the Al Gharbia region, showcasing the community's connection with aquatic activities. Visitors can witness exciting water sports competitions, demonstrations, and cultural events that highlight the significance of water in this arid landscape.

  2. Liwa Dates Festival. The Liwa Dates Festival is a celebration of the region's rich date cultivation heritage. This event typically features date competitions, cultural performances, and displays of various date varieties.

  3. Liwa Sports Festival / Moreeb Hill Climb. The Liwa Sports Festival, including the renowned Moreeb Hill Climb, is a thrilling event that attracts motorsports enthusiasts. Held annually, this festival features off-road races, including the challenging ascent of Moreeb Hill, one of the world's largest dunes. It brings together competitors and spectators for an adrenaline-pumping experience in the heart of the desert.

Practical Information

  1. Local Currency. The official currency in Liwa Oasis and the United Arab Emirates is the UAE Dirham (AED). It is advisable to exchange currency at authorized exchange centers or use ATMs for convenience.

  2. Language. Arabic is the official language in Liwa Oasis and throughout the UAE. While English is widely spoken, especially in tourist areas, learning a few basic Arabic phrases can enhance your interaction with locals.

  3. Weather. Liwa Oasis experiences an arid desert climate. Summers can be extremely hot, with temperatures exceeding 40°C (104°F). Winters are milder, making it an ideal time for outdoor activities. Always check the weather forecast before planning excursions.

  4. Local Customs. Respect for local customs is crucial. Dress modestly, especially in public places and religious sites. Public displays of affection should be avoided, and alcohol consumption is limited to licensed venues.

Safety Considerations and Emergency Contact Information

  1. General Safety. Liwa Oasis is generally safe for visitors. However, take precautions against the sun, staying hydrated and using sun protection. Respect local traffic rules and drive cautiously in the desert environment.

  2. Emergency Contacts. In case of emergencies, the following contact information may be useful:

    • Police: 999

    • Ambulance: 998

    • Fire: 997

  3. Health Precautions. Ensure you have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies. Hydrate regularly, especially in the desert climate. If you have specific health concerns, consult with a healthcare professional before traveling.

  4. Desert Safety. If venturing into the desert, inform someone of your plans and expected return time. Carry sufficient water, a fully charged phone, and a GPS device. Be cautious of changing weather conditions.


Liwa Oasis stands as a captivating destination with its mesmerizing landscapes, including vast sand dunes and the expansive Liwa desert. The region offers a diverse range of experiences, from exhilarating sand boarding and dune bashing to the tranquility of camel trekking and the allure of towering sand dunes. Whether exploring the Liwa desert on private tours or participating in the Liwa Sports Festival, visitors are presented with a golden opportunity to witness the beauty of this oasis in the heart of the world's largest sand desert.

For those seeking a unique blend of adventure and relaxation, Liwa Oasis presents a world of possibilities. The alluring charm of the desert, combined with the cultural richness of the area, creates a truly special environment. To fully appreciate the beauty and special interest Abu Dhabi Liwa Oasis holds, one must embark on a Liwa Oasis tour, embracing the absolute safety and luxurious touch that characterizes this hidden gem in the Abu Dhabi emirate. In conclusion, the Liwa experience is a journey into the heart of a beautiful oasis, surrounded by stunning landscapes and offering a genuine taste of the Middle East region. For those with a penchant for exploration, Liwa Oasis is an invitation to discover a world where tradition meets the golden sands in the western region of Abu Dhabi.


  • 1.

    Is Liwa Oasis natural?

    Liwa Oasis is a natural oasis that has been formed over the centuries through natural geological processes. The oasis is characterized by an abundance of date palm trees, fresh water springs, and agricultural fields, creating a lush and green contrast against the surrounding desert landscape.

  • 2.

    What is the highest dune in Liwa?

    The largest dune in Liwa is the renowned Moreeb Dune. Also known as the "Scary Hill," Moreeb Dune is considered one of the tallest and most challenging sand dunes in the world. Its height and steep slopes make it a popular destination for off-road enthusiasts and participants in events like the Liwa Sports Festival, where the Moreeb Hill Climb or Liwa desert safari take place.

  • 3.

    What movies were filmed in Liwa desert?

    Liwa Oasis has been featured in films such as "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," where it represented the planet Jakku. Additionally, desert scenes in "Sonic the Hedgehog" and the portrayal of the planet Arrakis in the film "Dune" were also filmed in Liwa Oasis.

  • 4.

    What are the two famous oasis in UAE?

    The UAE is home to two famous oases, each with its unique charm and historical significance. The Al Ain Oasis and Liwa Oasis stand out as prominent landmarks, preserved over time due to their ancient hydrology. These oases not only showcase the natural beauty of the region but also serve as a testament to the sustainable practices that have allowed them to flourish in the arid landscape of the United Arab Emirates.

  • 5.

    Can I travel to Liwa Oasis from Dubai by bus?

    A bus journey from Dubai to Liwa, passing through Mall of the Emirates Bus Station, Mall of the Emirates Metro Station, Jabal Ali Metro Station 2, Ibn Battuta Metro Station, Ibn Battuta Metro Bus Station, and MBZ City Bus Station, typically takes approximately 7 hours and 18 minutes.

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Update date: 06/24/2024