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Cultural Landscapes & Oases

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Green Amidst Red

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Not only is Liwa Oasis the ancestral home to the UAE’s revered Bani Yas tribe, it also features huge red sand dunes, farming and forts more than 100 years old
The historic Liwa Oasis lies at the northern edge of the Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter) the world's largest uninterrupted sand mass. The oasis benefits from a water table that lies close to the surface. This has supported agriculture and animal husbandry in the oasis for generations and creates a dramatic contrast between the green palm groves and towering red sand dunes all around.

The Liwa Oasis extends in an east-west arc for more than 100 kilometres and features some of the world’s largest sand dunes, with many rising more than 150 metres. 

Bani Yas Tribe

The most numerous and significant tribe in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the Bani Yas Tribe, whose ancestral home is the Liwa Oasis. During the pre-oil period, members of the Bani Yas raised camels and other livestock, and farmed dates and other crops in the Liwa Oasis. They also engaged in pearling, owning fleets of boats and shifting from the oasis to the coast during the pearling season.

Liwa Forts

Two forts built more than 100 years ago still stand, while seven others from that time were reconstructed in the 1980s and also can be found in Liwa Oasis. These forts reflect the commitment of tribal groups to maintain order and protect their territories.
These structures are generally characterised by round watchtowers and high walls at least three metres tall, with gun holes at regular intervals, suggesting a need for vigilance and strong defences.
Among the reconstructed forts is Al Meel Fort, thought to have been built by the Bu Falah tribe during the reign of Sheikh Mohammad Bin Shakhbout Bin Dhiyab (r. 1816-1818) to protect its territory and water source.
Four other forts in the oasis – Dhafeer, Al Jabbanah, Maria Al Sharqiya and Muzeira’a – also were built beside water sources and are now surrounded by palm plantations. By contrast, the unrestored Umm Husn Fort, also called Arrada Fort, is isolated and surrounded by sand dunes.

Tel Moreeb

One of the world’s tallest sand dunes, Tel Moreeb is over 300 metres high and features slopes that present 50-degree inclines, creating an exciting and challenging location for motor sports enthusiasts.

Did you know ?

Some of the most ancient sands that form these dunes were deposited 141,000 years ago, while much of the remaining sand dates to the last Ice Age, approximately 18,000 years ago.

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