For a peek at how things used to be in Abu Dhabi before the glistening skyscrapers and busy highways, a road trip to the Western Region is a must. The towering dunes of Liwa, almost completely devoid of vegetation, are truly a spectacle worth seeing, and is probably the spitting image of what you assumed living in the Gulf region would be like. Stunning on its own, especially for sunset picnics and picture taking, Liwa is as untouched as Abu Dhabi gets. But to experience the area at its most interesting, one should take the two-hour drive over this week when it comes alive to host the world-famous Liwa International Festival. The six-day event, which draws huge crowds of both locals and expats yearly, is once again being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the ruler’s representative in the Western Region, with the help of the Abu Dhabi Motors Club. Thrilling activities will include classical car and bike races, a flashy amended cars show, and even falcon, horse and camel races, among others. The highlight, without a doubt, is the tackling of the terrifying Moreeb Dune, a mighty incline that only specially modified cars and bikes can brave. Situated in the middle of the breathtaking Empty Quarter, the Moreeb Dune is said to be the tallest sand dune in the world, reaching to a height of 300 metres and sitting 1600 metres across at an incline of 50 degrees. Its English translation: Scary Mountain. If that doesn’t get your interest peaked, then we don’t know what will. Still, there will be other attractions on display such as a play area for kids, various food stalls, and a not-to-be-missed fireworks display. Generous cash prizes will be awarded to the competition’s brave winners and a Polaris bike PZR will go to the lucky contestant with the best score in the bikes category. For everyone else, this is a pretty unique way to end the year and start a new one in the capital.