Liwa Oasis

The Liwa Oasis is a cluster of villages and oasis in the United Arab Emirates.The area is populated by a collection of Bedouin villages that follow along the oasis at the Northern edge of the Rub al Khali. The center of this is Mezaira’a, which offers a few shops and services as well as a gas station.Liwa has all the modern facilities you get in a big city.

Liwa is at the edge of the UAE’s most impressive desert region, when considering the size of the dunes. It is a great launching off point for self-led or pre-arranged dune-bashing and other desert safaris. It may also be a good place to learn more about Bedouin culture, though most of the settlements are by now built of concrete, and walled off to the rest of the world.Every now and then I go and spend some time in the heart of the desert, and live like the old days.

Liwa is the name of a vast, almost barren desert region, that extends from the southern part of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, all the way to the border with Saudi Arabia; and south of Al Ain, all the way to the border of Saudi Arabia and Oman (at the village of Um Azumool, the most southerly village in the UAE).  In the past, Liwa was a lot larger than today, and it was also known as the Bu Fallah desert.  This name came from the Bu Fallah tribe, which was, and still is, the largest tribe in the area.

There used to be around 50 permanent settlements, known locally as “Mahdar” for one, and “Mahader” for more than one; with names such as Muzairah, Al Mariyah, Shah, Nafeer, Hameem, Arada, Therwaneeyah, Malqata, Bateen and so on.  When Mohamed Al Mansoori said, “Let’s name them all,” he took his prayer beads and started counting and naming them one by one, and in the right order.  He did not miss out a single one, and told me he has been to all of them in the past.  These well-established Mahader each had plenty of water wells and farms.

Liwa was not on the trading route as some people may tell you.  Very simply, it was a region inhabited by a lot of Bedouin tribes, because it was rich in water resources and not too far from Abu Dhabi and the Al Ain Oasis – a landmark well-known for its commercial trade and as a stop-over for the travelling caravans coming from Oman.


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