Friday, July 23, 2010

Liwa Date Festival

I really haven't ventured out of Abu Dhabi the last two weeks. I am making up for it. Yesterday, my Friday off, I ventured deep into the UAE desert to check out the Liwa Date Festival. The Liwa Oasis is more than two hours drive from Abu Dhabi and approximately 20 miles from the Saudi Arabia border. It is located in Abu Dhabi's Western Region on the northern edge of Rub al Khali desert.

I have blogged about the mostly ornamental date palms in Abu Dhabi ( In Liwa area, date farming is serious business and an important branch of their economy.

With my java juice in hand, I was ready to go for the long drive thru the desolate desert.

I don't know how to operate the GPS on my vehicle. I did a quick internet check the night before on google map and mapquest, but the maps were not that straightforward. I actually relied on the sign shown below which was posted every 6 miles or so. I had to turn around at one point because I was not seeing the yellow signs anymore.

The following short clip is at about 30 minutes into my trip.

The picture shows about the half-way point to the Liwa Oasis.

Not knowing what to expect along the way, I brought with me lunch (chow mein, fried rice, and sweet and sour fish) from a grocery store in Abu Dhabi, and nuts and trail mix for snacks. I always have a box of bottled water in my vehicle. The refrigerated middle console is quite handy for cooled drinks.

Because it was Friday, the festival did not open until 2PM. I made a few stops along the way, as well as checking out the surrounding area of Liwa once I got there. I hope you are not sick of looking at pictures of orange colored sand dunes; I am always in awe seeing these wonderful displays by mother nature.

In some areas, the dunes encroach into the road. The edge of the fairly high dune pictured below is at the road's shoulder.

It is not all sand. There is actually quite a bit of green areas, and not all are palm dates.

I also noticed bales of hay that were "rolled". I am not sure what type of grass was grown to make the hay, but it would seem unlikely to grow grass for hay in the middle of a desert.

Along the way, I noticed the following house designed similar to the traditional Emirati fort.

And finally, the Liwa Date Festival.

Along with the displays of dates and contest for best dates, there were also exhibits of Liwa Oasis way of living from the past and market selling traditional local handicrafts. Most of the vendors were women wearing black niqab and abaya (full black veil and long black tunic). I really couldn't take too many picture for that reason.

A nice hand crafted coffee table and chair in the shape of a boat.

Just before my drive back to Abu Dhabi, as shown on the dashboard at 5:05PM, it was 49 degrees C or about 120 degrees F. It was not really that bad.

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