Lonely Planet Writer

In pictures: camel racing, falconry and sand dunes at the Liwa Festival in UAE

The annual Liwa Festival festival takes place in the Moreeb Dune, one of the longest sand dunes in the world, approximately 250 kilometres away from Abu Dhabi. Reaching a height of 300 metres, it’s a popular place to host sand drag races.

Emirati men walk with their camels across the Liwa desert.
Emirati men walk with their camels across the Liwa desert. Image by KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images

The seven day event attracts travellers from all over the region, with the aim of promoting the folklore and traditional activities of the United Arab Emirates.

Camels race during the Liwa 2017 Moreeb Dune Festival.
Camels race during the Liwa 2017 Moreeb Dune Festival. Image by KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images

Racing is high on the Liwa Festival agenda, with races between camels, cars, bikes, falcons and horses all part of the week’s festivities.

An Emirati from the Qubaisi tribe trains falcons in the Liwa desert.
An Emirati from the Qubaisi tribe trains falcons in the Liwa desert. Image by KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images

As well as races, there are also activities such as camping, a market of UAE-made handcrafts and even a camel beauty contest. How could they ever choose out of these beauties?

Camels prepare to race.
Camels prepare to race. Image by KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images

Camel-racing remains a popular sport in the Gulf region, with its popularity even stretching as far as Australia. In the UAE, they are controlled by remote control ‘jockeys’ after they banned the use of underage jockeys in 2002. Even Hollywood star Jackie Chan is a reputed fan of the sport, having visited when he was filming on location in Dubai.