Liwa is arguably the best playground in the UAE for 4×4 owners and many people perceive it as only a collection of sand dunes, albeit beautiful ones. However tucked away here and there you will find a variety of forts, factories, and fish farms. Here is the lowdown on interesting things to see, often off the beaten track, but all accessible to everyone.

Distance: 134kms approx. excluding Moreeb Hill Detour
Remoteness: from 2/10 (not remote at all) to 7/10 (far away from cities)

Getting There
The route can be driven in any direction but the description is based on driving westwards. Almost all attractions lie to the North of the road therefore if you drive in an Eastward direction you will have to u-turn frequently.

From Abu Dhabi, Dubai and further north take the E11 towards Gweifat then take  the exit towards “Himeem/Hameem – Qasr Al Sarab Hotel” (E65). Follow this road, which has one of the longest “straights” in the country, until you reach the start point which is the where the 2-way road becomes a dual carriageway and changes number (E90).

Time to allow: To drive the whole route, visit every fort and attraction including a stop for lunch, you will need a whole day. If you only have half a day to spare then your best option is to start at Liwa City and travel westwards to Arada starting at the Liwa Hotel.

Distance from Start: Abu Dhabi 185kms, Al Ain 318kms, Dubai 297kms.

Distance from End: Abu Dhabi 243kms, Al Ain 376kms, Dubai 355kms.

Himeem to Liwa City (Mizaira’a)
How about starting your trip with a coffee at the 5-star Qasr Al Sarab Hotel? Relax in sumptuous surroundings sipping your café latte (27aed -2016 prices) while gazing out at the beautiful view from the library. Take some time to look at the many beautiful antiques on display throughout the foyer –there are some very interesting and unusual artefacts.

Liwa City to Arada
The area to the west of Liwa City is more remote than the eastern section of the Liwa crescent; there isn’t a hotel or a restaurant for over 100kms in this direction so stock up on snacks and drinks before heading west.

Liwa Exhibition Centre
Home of the Liwa Date Festival and occasional other events, this is located behind the ADNOC.

Location: N23.14617°, E53.79650°

Liwa Date Factory
This interesting factory shop is a few hundred metres along the road from the Exhibition Centre and there you can purchase some of the wonderful dates prepared in their factory. Dates were traditionally the lifeblood of Liwa and even today they are a very important crop. The factory manufactures everything from date paste through to mahmool and the most amazing chocolate/nut/date combinations.

Location: N23.13692°, E53.79832°

Liwa Hotel
Return to roundabout and take a right to head west

Return to the road where you must head eastwards until you reach a roundabout where you should do a u-turn.

Moreeb Hill Detour
When in Liwa City, you might like to consider making a detour to Tal Moreeb, site of the annual Moreeb Festival and one of the highest dunes n the UAE. The top is 300 metres above sea level and each year in January it hosts a much anticipated drag race /hill climb. The original event has now expanded to become a festival of motorsport and Emirati Culture.

After u-turning at roundabout near liwa hotel, continue a further 4.5km, turning left at the roundabout ( 23.11919 53.75254) then following the signs to Tal Moreeb.

The road to Moreeb is paved and is a great chance to take your 2WD right into the dunes, whilst remaining on blacktop.

Onroad: Liwa Crescent B

Onroad: Liwa Crescent

Fish Farm
Liwa’s original fish farm, try to go on a Saturday when the supervisor is more likely to be there.

Onroad: Liwa Crescent B

Return to main road; if you wish to proceed to Ghayathi then turn right at the roundabout or to return to Liwa City do a u-turn at the roundabout and drive approx. 49kms eastwards.

Petrol Stations
ADNOC Himeem – N22.94702° E54.28846°
ADNOC Tharwaniya – N23.07960° E54.01365°
ADNOC Liwa City – N23.14193° E53.79650° (Oasis, selling snacks and coffee)
ADNOC Al Mariah – N23.08760° E53.60735°
Liwa Police Station – N23.13361° E53.79851°
Liwa Exhibition Centre – N23.14617° E53.79650°
Grocery Shops/Restaurants
(out with Liwa City)
Himeem – N22.95228° E54.29177°
Al Jabbanah – N23.06025° E54.07125°
Khannour – N23.10308° E53.60517°

Route file including above waypoints can be downloaded at

Words + Photos by: Marina Bruce