If you are wondering what an oasis in the UAE looks like, think of it as the reverse of an island. This is because oases are lush green areas in the wilderness located around a water source. The water source is usually a spring or well. The natural desert landscape of the region has many spots that provide recreational opportunities for everyone. Here, we shall list down the notable oases in the UAE that make for great tourist attractions and perfect retreats for families in the city.
PANORAMIC OASIS IN THE UAE FOR CAMPING, DESERT SAFARIS AND MUCH MORE
AL AIN OASIS
This historic oasis in Al Ain spreads over 3,000 acres and takes you back in time when the region was first inhabited by settlers some four millennia ago. In 2011, Al Ain Oasis became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With a couple of modern additions, it was later opened for the public. These included, among other things, the construction of an Eco-Centre as well as shaded pathways along with the 147,000 date palms.
The oasis in the UAE is also home to hundreds of varieties of plants and animals. Some farms are still operational in the area.
As far as the water source is concerned, the site has a shared water supply that features both wells and the local ‘falaj’ irrigation system that taps into underground wells. This system has been in place for centuries now. Tourists can learn more about these irrigation systems and other features of Al Ain Oasis in the UAE at the Eco-Centre. You can also witness the conservation efforts to preserve the oasis’s ecosystem and the traditional farming methods that are still used.
The stunning Al-Ain Oasis is located in Al Mutawaa and is one of the best places to visit during a trip to Al Ain. Visitors should note that the Al Ain Oasis timings are from 09:00 am to 05:00 pm daily. Shops, restaurants and cafes in the area are open from 12:00 pm to 09:00 pm.
The second entry on our list of oases in the UAE is Liwa Oasis. Featuring lush greenery amidst red sand dunes, Liwa Oasis Abu Dhabi is the hometown of UAE’s well-known Bani Yas tribe. Along with sand dunes, this oasis also features farms and forts over a hundred years old.
This UAE oasis (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is located towards the north of Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter), which is the largest uninterrupted sand mass in the world. It stretches over 100 km and is home to some of the largest dunes in the world, many of them rising more than 150 metres.
Liwa Oasis Abu Dhabi gets its water from a water table near the surface. A water table is an upper level of an underground surface where the soil (or rocks) remain perpetually saturated with water. This water source has supported farming and animal rearing for generations. It also creates a stunning contrast between the giant sand dunes and the green palm groves as pictured below.
The Liwa Oasis in the UAE is also home to nine forts. Two of them still stand as they did a century ago, while the other seven underwent reconstruction in the 1980s. Tel Moreeb, also known as Moreeb Dune, is one of the world’s tallest sand dunes and a key attraction of the Liwa Oasis in the UAE. It rises over 300 m high. A spectacle to watch, the dune is also one of the best locations in the UAE for motorsports, especially with its 50-degree inclined slopes.
The Al Ain Oasis and Liwa Oasis are the two famous oases in the UAE. Both have been preserved because of their ancient hydrology. There are, however, some other notable oases in the UAE that deserve a mention here.
WADI AL BIH
This location in Ras Al Khaimah combines a valley with the features of an oasis. A great spot for hiking enthusiasts, Wadi Al Bih is located in the northern part of the emirate on the top of the Hajar Mountains. You can find emerald-green pools of water surrounded by greenery and flowers in this UAE oasis. A perfect location for an adventurous road trip, activities to enjoy at Wadi Al Bih include hiking, bird watching and photography.
AL HILI OASIS
Hili is the northernmost oasis in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi. The oasis is yet another example of the falaj water system, a mainstay of oases in the UAE. Al Hili Oasis is a place for history buffs with structures dating back to the early 1800s. The most prominent among these is the Bin Hadi al Darmaki House which was home to the generation before His Highness Sheikh Zayed the First.
AL JAHILI OASIS
This is the smallest of all oases in Al Ain. It is home to the Al Jahili Fort that was opened for the public in 2008. One of the largest forts in the region, it was built in the 1890s by the orders of His Highness Sheikh Zayed The First to serve as the residence for the Al Nahyan ruling family. Today the fort is a hub of cultural activities and a major tourist attraction.
Finally, Qidfa Oasis in the UAE is the name given to the location of a burial from the Wadi Suq period (2,000 to 1,300 BC). Archaeological digs at the sight of the oasis unearthed hundreds of artefacts that are now on display at the Fujairah Museum. This includes weaponry, pottery and coins. The most interesting of these finds is a bowl made from an ostrich egg, dating back more than 2,000 years ago.
This wraps up our list of the popular oases in the UAE. Of course, the desert landscape of the region offers unlimited opportunities for locals and tourists to enjoy desert-themed recreational activities. You might want to read about desert camping in the UAE.
Those of you who are interested in adventurous activities can check out the desert resorts in Dubai that combine activities like camping and desert safaris. If the latter is your thing, check out the best places in Dubai for desert safaris on our blog.