Liwa Oasis

Liwa Oasis

The Liwa Oasis (واحة ليوا in Arabic) is a large oasis area in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.


Liwa Oasis is about 100 km south of the Persian Gulf coast and 150 km SSW of the city of Abu Dhabi, on the northern edge of Rub al Khali desert. It is centered around coord|23|08|N|53|46|E and stretches about 100 km east-west, along an arch curved to the north. It consists of some 50 villages. The geographic and economic center of the oasis is Muzayri`, where the highway from Abu Dhabi enters the oasis and then divides to the east (65 km to the easternmost village, Mahdar Bin `Usayyan) and west (45 km to the westernmost village, `Aradah).

There are no statistical data available, but judging from satellite images, the population is estimated at 50,000 to 150,000 [] .

The villages of Liwa Oasis are the southernmost settlements of Abu Dhabi and of the United Arab Emirates. The southern border of Abu Dhabi with Saudi Arabia, which runs at a distance between 16 and 35 km to the Oasis, is a straight line in the Rub al Khali desert, which is largely uninhabited. Mahdar Bin `Usayyan is the southermost village of the Emirates, and also the easternmost of the oasis. 10 km south of the border, and 40 km south of the eastern part of the oasis is the Saudi oil town Shaybah. However, there is no street linking Liwa Oasis and Shaybah, and no border crossing.

A modern, multilane highway connects the oasis area to the capital, Abu Dhabi.


An important traditional branch of the economy is date farming. There is a widespread use of drip irrigation and greenhouses. The importance of tourism is on the rise. Liwa Hotel in Muzayri` boasts four stars. Liwa Rest House, in the same village and run by the government of Abu Dhabi, is the second establishment in the oasis. It is primarily aimed at minor officials and businessmen. Construction has begun on a third, 5 star, resourt (named [ Qasr Al Sarab] ). The nearby Moreeb dune, with 300 meter height one of the largest dunes in the world, attracts every year during the [ Liwa festival] a large number of international and local visitors coming to see the [ offroad] and camel racing events.


The oasis is the place of birth of the ruling families of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. In 1793, the ruling family "Al Nahyan" moved their residence from Liwa to the city of Abu Dhabi.

Traditionally, men from Liwa (Bani Yas tribe) were pearl divers on the coast during the summer months. Pearl diving offered an additional source of income.


The USGS Geographic Names Database [] lists 39 populated places in the area of the oasis, which are listed from west to east in the following table. Some of the more important villages are printed in bold.

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