Cultural Landscapes & Oases



Did you know

Liwa Oasis in Abu Dhabi

Liwa Oasis is the ancestral home of the revered Bani Yas tribe. It has towering sand dunes and forts dating back more than a century
Historic Liwa Oasis lies at the northern edge of Rub’ Al Khali (the Empty Quarter) — the world's largest uninterrupted desert. Liwa Oasis benefits from a water table that lies close to the surface and which has supported agriculture and animal husbandry for generations. This creates a dramatic contrast in the landscape between green date palm groves and tall orange-red sand dunes.

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 in height.

Bani Yas Tribe

The most numerous and significant tribe in the United Arab Emirates is the Bani Yas tribe, whose ancestral home is the Liwa Oasis. During the Pre-oil period, members of the Bani Yas tribe raised camels and other livestock, also farming dates and crops. During the summer pearling season, they also engaged in pearl diving, travelling from the oasis to the coast to their fleets of boats.

Liwa Forts

Liwa Oasis also features two forts built more than a century ago and seven others of that era which were reconstructed in the 1980s. These forts reflect the commitment of the tribal groups of the past in protecting their land.

The structures are characterised by round watchtowers and high walls, at least 3 m tall, with gun holes at regular intervals, suggesting the strong defences.

Among the reconstructed forts is Al Meel Fort, thought to have been built by the Al Bu Falah tribe during the reign of Sheikh Mohammed bin Shakhbut bin Dhiyab Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi from 1816–18, to protect its area and water sources.

Four other forts in the oasis — Dhafeer, abbanah, Maria Al Sharqiya and Muzeira’a —were also built beside water sources and are now surrounded by palm plantations. In contrast, the unrestored Umm Husn Fort, also called Arrada Fort, is isolated and surrounded by sand dunes.

Tal Moreeb

One of the world’s tallest sand dunes, Tal Moreeb is more than 300 m high and features slopes with 50-degree inclines, creating an exciting and challenging location for motor sports enthusiasts.

Did you know ?

Some of the oldest sand which forms these dunes dates to 141,000 years ago, while the rest dates to the last Ice Age, approximately 18,000 years ago.


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