Liwa Oasis

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Liwa Oasis

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Down in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region, approaching the Saudi border is the tiny outpost of Liwa Oasis. This one-horse, (or should that be camel? Nope, there are loads of them) town doesn’t have much to offer in terms of malls or the usual city trappings and that’s the number one reason to go there. What Liwa does possess is extreme natural beauty. The dune-surrounded settlement is visually stunning. It’s a breathtaking moment when sand banks rise on the horizon as you approach. Liwa’s topography could just as easily double for a Martian landscape. The desolation of the vast expanse of red-tinged dust, only intermittently broken by a small grouping of palm trees here and there, is spine tingling. As you near, you begin to realize the size of these dunes. Some are mountainous, which only adds to the awe. Being an oasis the closer you get to the center of Liwa the more greenery there is. Date farms, a reminder that the town’s economy is predominantly agricultural and that the natural water found in the area is the only reason people put down roots, line the main route in. If you feel residents of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, the UAE’s three major cities, have succumbed to the social retreat that comes with living in any expanding conurbation; that people can appear too busy to talk or perhaps even a tad rude, Liwa is the exact opposite. Not only will you be graciously welcomed in any place of business, those simply milling about on the few streets are always up for a chat. Refreshingly, hitchhiking is also commonplace for those without transportation who live just outside Liwa and wish to get in, particularly on a Friday afternoon. Give the area’s geography, camping is obviously a popular pursuit. The desert hosts many a traveller and their various pursuits over the weekends. Whether it be hiking, fat-biking, dune surfing or just enjoying a night out under the stars, as the weather cools it is a decent place to pitch your tent if the mood so takes you.

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