The Annual Liwa Date Festival returns to Liwa City (Mizaira’a) from the 20th – 30th July 2016, from 4pm to 10pm daily.
Now if you are coming from Abu Dhabi or further afield it’s rather a long drive for just an evening, so why not make a day of it? Here’s an itinerary for you.
Travel from Abu Dhabi along the E11 towards Gweifat. Take the E65 southwards, and stop off at the incredible Emirates National Auto Museum (better known as the Rainbow Sheikh’s Car Museum) – entry 50aed per person. There is a small cafe adjacent where you can get light snacks or delicious fruit juices. Daily opening hours are 10am to 6pm and the contact number listed is 055 749 2155 or 02 6676999, website here. GPS co-ordinates are N24.09877 E54 .417452.
Continue your journey southwards towards the Liwa Crescent, passing oilfields and palm trees for 100kms before the road becomes dual carriageway and turns into the E90. If you don’t have a GPS device why not enable it on your phone – and stop for a photo on the Tropic Of Cancer (GPS N23.4372 E54.3911) – see my blog “Crossing The Line” which includes a printable sign since there is not one there!
If you need some drinks or snacks there are grocery shops at Himeem, at the Al Hosn Roundabout and at Al Jabbnah. There is also a restored fort at Al Jabbnah, GPS N23.06254° E54.07164°, open all the time, just walk in and take some awesome photos! The Liwa Art Hub is behind the fort and it is worth looking to see if they are open as there are some amazing sculptures in their grounds.
By this time chances are you are hungry, so make your way to the Liwa Hotel (GPS N23.12477 E53.7759) in Liwa City where you can have a delicious buffet lunch for 125AED++ per person. I have negotiated a special deal for my readers – buy lunch and use the pool and grounds for up to 2 hours – for free. It is very hot in the afternoons in July and where better to relax for a couple of hours than by the lovely pool – there is also plenty of shade round the pool by way of gazebos and palm trees. You will need a voucher to claim your free swim – download it HERE. Please note the free swim is only available to those purchasing lunch. .
I reckon the sun will now be low in the sky so why not make the most of the remaining daylight and also the lower late afternoon temperatures and head either to a) Tal Moreeb (GPS N22.97601 E53.78672), site of the Moreeb festival and one of the highest slipfaces in the UAE, or b) Qutuf fort, (GPSN23.11082 E53.73007) the smallest in the Liwa Crescent area, tucked in behind a mosque located in a small village only 10 minutes from the Liwa Hotel? Maybe you will have time to do both?
The last stop of the day is the Liwa Date Festival (GPS N23.14627 E53.79804), which celebrates the start of the date harvest in the Liwa Oasis. There are over 50 different varieties of dates, from rich nutty flavoured dark ones to fruity red and finally my favourite, the golden ones which when ripe seem to turn to caramel in your mouth. Locally, Rawtab, or half-ripe dates are a great delicacy and you will be offered these as well as many others to taste and try. Competition is fierce between the local farmers and there are huge prizes for winners with cars or pick-ups being the favourite! In previous years there has been an exhibition of traditional arts and crafts as well as trade stands and I would expect the same this year. Free entry!
Return to Abu Dhabi via the E45 which takes you through Madinat Zayed, administrative centre of Al Gharbia (Western Region) and home to a wonderful shwarma shop! Take the service road right after the Adnoc, second block, one with the wicker chairs and astroturf (Cafe Shams Al Douq).
So there you have it – a varied day for adults and children alike; modern and old; customs and culture; geography and of course scenery – the majestic dunes at the very edge of the Rub Al Khali! If you would like me to be your private guide for the day then please get in touch – fullemptyquarter at gmail dot com, or use the link in the sidebar.
Wishing all my readers who visit here a great day – safe journey, take lots of photos, make many memories with your family!
Don’t forget your swimwear and your sunscreen, and also remember to download and print your Liwa Hotel Swim Lunch Voucher!
Download the waypoint file in GPX format here or in KML here. Once uploaded to your gps/phone you can use your routing options to move from place to place.