What Is Liwa International Festival?

Sporting and Tourism

Liwa Oasis, located in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, has undergone a significant transformation since 2003, emerging as a prominent center for sports and tourism.
The oasis, characterized by its stunning sand dunes and expansive land, initially attracted motorsport enthusiasts who engaged in activities such as car drifting and racing. Additionally, Liwa has a rich history of traditional camel and horse sports that have been cherished by Arab communities for thousands of years.
In 2003, the inhabitants of Liwa recognized the potential of organizing these events in a professional and safe manner. As a result, the Liwa Sports Club (LSC) was established, and later gained recognition for organizing Liwa’s annual international festival. The festival traditionally takes place every December to January of the following year.
As the event gained popularity, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi collaborated with LSC in organizing the festival.
By January 2023, the festival had attracted 283,988 participants, including both local residents and international tourists and 114,442 cars in addition to 271.5 million views on different social media platforms.
Source: LSC Media Report Jan 2023

Liwa International Festival Dec 22 – Jan 23


The Liwa Oasis (Arabic: Wahhet Liwa) is located in Al Dhafra Region, which is the western region of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.
The landscape of the oasis presents a striking contrast between lush green date palm groves and towering orange-red sand dunes due to its shallow water table that has sustained agricultural practices and animal husbandry for countless generations.
Stretching over a distance of more than 100 kilometers in an east-west direction, the Liwa Oasis boasts some of the largest sand dunes on Earth. Many of these dunes reach heights exceeding 150 meters, adding to the grandeur and magnificence of the scenery. According to  Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism  the oasis has one of the world’s tallest sand dunes, Moreeb Dune (Arabic: Tal Moreeb) which is more than 300 m high and features slopes with 50-degree inclines, creating an exciting and challenging location for motor sports enthusiasts.

Liwa Oasis sand ripples - Liwa Festival - Liwa season - Liwa 2024
Liwa desert ripples
Photo Credit: Peter Dowley from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, CC BY 2.0

A List of Sports and Activities

Each year, the club introduces additional competitions and races based on the specific demands and preferences of the participants.
The following are examples of previous activities that have taken place:

Motor Sports

  • Classic Car competition
  • UTV Motorsport racing
  • Liwa Freestyle Drift Season
  • UTV Race
  • Car stunt
  • Sand drag bike

Animal Sports

  • Equestrian Competitions and Races
  • Falconry Competitions
  • Camel Race

Other Sports

  • Liwa Cycling Challenge
  • Paragliding

Other Activities:

  • The Liwa Heritage Market that sells Emirati handmade artifacts
Liwa 2024 - Liwa Festival - Liwa Oasis - Camel Race - Horse Race
Photo credit: Chris Whiteoak / The National


Moreeb Dune, also known as Tall Mori’b or Tel Mor’eb, holds the distinction of being the tallest dune in the Liwa region. Its name, which translates to “Horror Hill” or “Terrifying Hill” is derived from its impressive height, which presents a challenging and exhilarating experience for racers.
As a result of the informal races held at Moreeb Dune, The Liwa Sports Club, initially known as the Abu Dhabi Motors Club, was established in Madinat Zayed, Dhafra, Emirate of Abu Dhabi. It received approval from the Abu Dhabi Executive Council on September 17, 2003, and the General Authority of Youth and Sport Welfare on October 23, 2004.
Originally focused on hosting car and motorbike races in the Dhafra region, the club expanded its activities in 2013 and underwent a name change to Liwa Sports Club (LSC). It is also informally referred to as Al Gharbia Sport Club.
Liwa Sports Club organizes the Liwa International Festival annually, the festival is named “Liwa,” followed by the respective year. For instance, Liwa 2024 is scheduled to commence in December 2023 and conclude in the first week of January 2024. Due to the global pandemic caused by Covid-19, the Liwa 2021 festival, originally slated for December 2020 to January 2021, had to be canceled in order to prioritize the health and safety of participants and attendees [1].
[1]: “The Liwa International Festival has been canceled for 2020”. UAE Barq, 2020-11-26

Celebrity Visitors

Liwa has attracted notable celebrity visitors, including Steve Harvey as well as Tyrese Gibson and Cody Walker during the filming of the blockbuster movie Fast & Furious 7.

Steve Harvey - Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed at Liwa International Festival - Liwa Oasis - Liwa 2024 - Liwa Festival
By The National News