Fun Drive will tackle Liwa terrain this year "Sponsored By Liwa Hotel"
Liwa International Festival
The Liwa Hotel, perched on a rise that overlooks a breathtaking oasis in the Rub at Khali, is the ideal base from which to follow in the tracks of the great explorers and discover one of the most fascinating landscapes on earth.
Just a 2 hour drive from Abu Dhabi (the UAE capital), and 3 hours from Dubai, the Liwa Hotel is an oasis of hospitality.
The journey to the hotel in itself is an adventure, passing through some of the most spectacular and constantly shifting sand sculptures in the region, quaint Arabian villages, and a vast landscape sprinkled with authentic heritage farms.
Here, guests can enjoy top-class comfort and luxury, matched by traditional Arabian standards of service and hospitality. Rub al Kali – appropriately known as the Empty Quarter – is the largest contiguous sand desert in the world.
The size of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands combined, Rub al Kali is populated by huge 'irq’ (vein) dunes that are 150 kilometres long, horned ‘barchan’ dunes that crest steeply to 700 metres, and wall-like ‘zibar’ dunes that block movement down the ‘shugs’ (corridors).
Crossing this area is considered as dangerous – and logistically more difficult – than Antarctica. Temperatures reach more than 61ºC and the central core is inaccessible to fixed-wing aircraft or even helicopters.
Yet brave adventurers succeeded in traversing this exceptionally hostile environment, overcoming extreme temperatures and camel-spiders, sand-vipers, and translucent scorpions.
In 1931, Bertram Thomas travelled south to north through the eastern lobe, the first true crossing by a Westerner. The following year, Harry St. John (Abdullah) Philby made it from north to south and back, then west – two true crossings. And over 1946-48, the great desert explorer Wilfred Thesiger crossed part of the eastern lobe, later traversing along the northern edge.
Today, the Empty Quarter is just as forbidding – but the modern-day explorer can now enter with total security.
Whether you’re discovering the traditional sights of the Emirates, enjoying a unique get-away or simply a well-deserved break, the Liwa Hotel guarantees to make your stay and unforgettable experience.
Spacious and luxurious rooms offer impressive panoramic views, which can be explored through exhilarating desert safaris and evening outings for sumptuous Arabian feasts under the stars.
Explore the large areas of lag gravel plains with ‘seif’ (sword) dunes marching across them. In the eastern margins of the Rub Al Kali there are ‘sabkhas’ – dry-crusted, lithium-rich brine-mud lakes.
Between the huge 'irq’ dunes there are thousands of ancient dried lakes, clear evidence of two previous periods of regular rains, and keen-eyed explorers might find elegant flint arrow-heads, maybe chance of the skulls of huge beasts from that era, akin to water-buffalo and hippos.
Al-Hadida is a strange place of black glass and white rocks where a meteorite struck with an explosion equivalent to the Hiroshima atom bomb. Known as the ‘Wabar’ Impact Site, scientists estimate that the strike was very recent on a geological time scale, putting the date at around 1863.
At least three crater rims are still visible, and the exposed wind-sorted field of debris from the impact extends to about 500 by 1,000 metres, caused by an explosion-cloud that probably reached the stratosphere.