Moreeb Dune and Liwa Oasis: wild camping road trip

Let’s leave the big city life of Dubai and Abu Dhabi behind and explore the UAE’s natural side… This time we explore the far south of the Abu Dhabi Emirate… Here in the middle of the desert, you’ll find the Liwa Oasis, a stretch of villages, date plantations and farms. Just after this patch of greenery the empty quarter extends itself into Saudi Arabia, with on the border the mighty Moreeb dune

 

Getting to Liwa Oasis and the Moreeb Dune

With a distance of around 350 kilometres to Dubai and 250 kilometres from Abu Dhabi, you quickly find yourself off the beaten track!… Driving over the well-maintained roads is great, but will still take you a few hours!

Fun Fact: Beyond Abu Dhabi, towards Saudi Arabia, the roads are very quiet. Therefore, the speed limit is increased until 160 km/h… The highest posted speed limit in the world.

Obviously, for this trip, you will need a (rental) car. A 4×4 is not required, but may make your trip easier and more fun!… Let’s get on the road!…

Moreeb Liwa 160km sign

 

Shams Solar Power Station

First stop is the Shams Solar Power Station. It is located just after the city of Madinat Zayed. The Power plant uses parabolic trough technology, meaning the half-round mirrors turn into heat, which drives steam engines. We received a ‘private tour’ by the security guards, offering us a hilltop view over 2.5 square kilometre power plant. A visitor centre was still under construction when we visited. If you have your own 4×4 you can also drive around the plant yourself for the best vantage point.

Depending on if the visitor centre already opened when you visit, expect to stretch your legs here for up to 30 minutes

Top Tip: We spotted some malls and supermarkets in Madinat Zayed. Ideal if you did not buy or forgot any bbq or camping necessities.

Shams Solar Plant

Shams Solar Plant

 

Liwa Oasis

When continuing on the Tarif – Liwa road, your surroundings will slowly get more and more green. We drove through a few of the small towns and enjoyed the views of the green vegetation within the backdrop the sandy dunes of the Empty Quarter. You have entered the Liwa Oasis. a chain of small villages and greenery in the middle of the desert. You may want to visit some of the small mosques, forts or date farms here… The economy is focused on farming, not on tourists, so do not expect any touristy signs, tours, or tasting experiences… We continued to the Moreeb dune

Liwa Oasis

Liwa Oasis

 

Moreeb Dune

The road from Liwa Oasis towards the Moreeb dune offers likely one of the World’s most beautiful desert scenic drives. Do ensure to make stops and take in your surroundings…

Moreeb Liwa

 

Continue the road until you reach the impressive Moreeb dune. With around 300m it one of the highest dunes in the world… It has a slope of 50 degrees, which is why it is called Moreeb Dune, meaning Scary Mountain. Given it is an ideal place for sand drag races, it also is far less photo-friendly due to the permanent event structures built next to it.

Moreeb Dune

 

Park your car at the bottom and climb up… You quickly realize how steep this Moreeb dune is… The sand makes your climb even harder… Take your time, we even started feeling a bit unwell climbing up in the hot desert sun. Also, do wear socks (or shoes) when climbing up as the sand gets very hot and can burn your feet (even during winter time)!

It is apparently not too warm for the scarce desert wildlife, given we were surrounded by many grasshoppers… (despite the lack of grass)…

Moreeb Dune

Moreeb Dune

Moreeb Dune Grasshopper

 

Camping in the desert

For the best desert experience, leave the Moreeb dune behind and search for a nice camping (or bbq) spot. We drove around 5-10 minutes back towards Liwa, until we found an unpaved road (on the left). This road leads to some tented accommodations (which may also be an option to book if you do not like camping). We had brought our own camping gear, so found a nice spot behind some dunes and set up camp!… Follow the link for more information on camping and saving money in the UAE and Oman.

Moreeb Liwa camping

Moreeb Liwa camping

 

After spending the night, which can get a bit chilly, especially in winter! we drove back to Dubai! Leaving the beautiful dunes behind…

Moreeb Liwa

 

Well, that was yet another Ghost around the Globe adventure… Do check also check out the trip to the Green oasis of Al Ain… Explore how you can undertake a road trip to Saudi Arabia… Read about our other wild camping adventures in Oman… and how to save money while travelling in the UAE and Oman!…