|Liwa Festival 2009
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
By Jon Crowley, UTVGuide.net
I received a phone call from Grant George at Funco UTV in early January about tagging along with him on a trip to the sand dunes near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. I had always wanted to go and check out the dunes there, but my first reaction was I cant make it. My family was in the car with me and heard the whole conversation. After I hung up with Grant, my wife and kids told me that I cant make it wasnt an option. What a cool family I have.
Fast forward three weeks and I was on a plane headed to a country half way around the world from my home in northern California. The flights to get from Sacramento to Dubai were incredibly long, but the hospitality shown to us by our host Khaled Bin Shaiban made it all worthwhile.
Having seen a few pictures from over there, I had expected to see a few sand cars and lots of ATVs, but didnt know what to expect for UTVs. My first clue that UTVs were big was when we stopped for gas in Liwa. As we finished fueling up, two new Polaris RZR Ss pulled up for some fuel as well. I know that a lot of you out there are lucky enough to be able to drive your UTVs on the street, but being from California, I dont get to see any UTVs on the road, let alone at the gas station. And these were brand new RZR Ss, so I knew something was up.
Our group went for many rides from Liwa to Moreeb Dune where the sand drags happen and each time, we had four to seven UTVs on the ride. One long travel Rhino, a fully done up Funco Teryx, and a bunch of RZRs and RZR Ss. The ride from Liwa to Moreeb Dune was a fun ride that was probably about ten miles. There were smooth dunes as far as you could see until you got close to the big hill, then tracks were everywhere. Moreeb Dune was quite a happening spot and lots of UTVs zipped across the valley floor and around the dunes. And they werent just a bunch of stockers, there were long travel kits, roll cages, tires and wheels, stereo and custom paint. If I closed my eyes I could almost imagine that I was still in California at Oldsmobile Hill in Glamis.
At one point, I saw two nicely done up Teryxs approach and stop. I heard a voice that sounded familiar and looked up to see Todd Romano from Dragon Fire Racing walk up. What a small world this is sometimes.
Right before I saw Todd, I looked around the two groups that had parked on the hill across from Moreeb Dune. Within about 100 feet of where I was standing I counted fourteen RZRs. The next morning, one of the guys was reading the local Abu Dhabi newspaper (in Arabic) and on the front of the Sports page, there was an ad for the RZR S. The RZR S has quickly become a huge hit in the United Arab Emirates.
The dunes in the United Arab Emirates are an amazing sight that go forever and the people there sure have caught on to how much fun you can have riding in the sand. The UAE has great potential for UTV manufacturers that can figure out how to deliver product there easily and even more potential for aftermarket parts manufacturers that spend the time to learn the market.My trip to the other side of the world was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am thrilled I didnt miss it. I want to thank Grant for inviting me to tag along, Khaled for the wonderful food and place to stay, and my family for telling me that I had to go.
Liwa Festival 2009
Under the patronage of H.H Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Liwa Festival 2009 takes place from January 25, 2009 to February 1, 2009. The festival included the following events : camel race, horse race, falcon race, Shooting championship, in addition to motorbike, ATV, dune car and 4×4 championships.
The location of the 2009 Liwa Festival is Tel Moreeb (aka Moreeb Dune or “Scary Mountain”). The area has some of the highest and steepest sand hills in the world.
A paved, 25 kilometer desert road leads you to Tel Moreeb from Liwa Oasis.
More Information about the area:
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven states (emirates) – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Qaiwain – formed in 1971 after independence from Britain. The terrain varies from the bare rock mountains of the north and east to the spectacular sand desert that runs south into Saudi Arabia and is the northern edge of the Rub al Khali – the “Empty Quarter”.
The Rub’ al Khali, or the “Empty Quarter” in English, is one of the largest sand deserts in the world, encompassing most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula, including southern Saudi Arabia, and areas of Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. The desert covers some 250,000 square miles and is one of the most inhospitable places on earth, and entirely uninhabitable.
The Empty Quarter is 1200 km long and 650 km wide, and is among the largest continuous deserts in the world. About 80 percent of this area is in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and covers about a quarter of the Kingdoms land surface. Its eastern edges extend into the United Arab Emirates, and its southern margin is in the Sultanate of Oman. Parts of its southern and southwestern limits are in the Republic of Yemen.
Liwa Oasis is located south-west of Abu Dhabi on the edge of the biggest sand desert in the world, the Rub al Khali (Empty Quarter). The Liwa Oasis is a gateway to the deep sands of the legendary Empty Quarter and is known as the playground for 4×4 dune bashing. Dune bashing is an increasingly popular activity, which involves tourists being driven out into the surrounding desert in a 4X4 and driving up and down the sand dunes.
Satellite Image of Liwa Oasis, UAE – Google Maps
Moreeb Hill (Al Moreb Hill) is the place for organized drag races. With a reported 50 degree slipface, and a 300m long hill climb, it is a perfect place for sand drags. Moreeb Hill is one of the largest hill climbs in the world. It is also known as Tel Moreeb or “Scary Mountain”.
Satellite Image of Moreeb Dune, UAE – Google Maps