The massive dunes of the Empty Quarter and the oasis settlements of Liwa dot Abu Dhabi’s southern flank.
While others see the desert as an empty void and the Bedouin as unsophisticated tribesmen, Thesiger saw them as they saw themselves—noble men for whom the desert was a sea upon which they roamed freely and found refuge. To them, and to him, the desert was life itself. Beautiful. Harsh. Epic. The “desert Arabs,” as he called them, full of an “austere dignity.”
Those dunes still exist, as do the oases of Liwa, just an hour and a half south of the city of Abu Dhabi by smooth highway, and to camp in them or drive over them in a four-by-four is to experience one of the sublime beauties of the Earth.