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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Roam the Arabian desert with Google Street View

Imagine sitting atop a camel looking across a vast expanse of desert dunes. A glimmer of green flashes in the distance. It could be a mirage or a bountiful oasis just awaiting your discovery. Now with Google Maps, you can see for yourself and journey across the sands of the Liwa Desert, one of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world. 


On your virtual trip through the desert, you’ll find sand dunes that reach an astounding height of 25-40 meters. These rolling sandy hills were home to early settlers back in the Late Stone Age, making Liwa one of the oldest sites in the United Arab Emirates.



Some of the richest history in this desert lies in the Liwa Oasis—the largest oasis in the Arabian peninsula. Many people across the UAE can trace their origins to the first tribes that settled there and established the region as a trade center. The oasis is also home to date farms, whose trees and fruit are important cultural symbols—the trunks of the palms were used to weave the walls of Bedouin tents, baskets and more, while the fruit was a treasured treat for the locals. Now, the oasis is a sought out location for tourists around the world and those who live in the area.



To bring this stunning desert to Street View, we fashioned the Trekker to rest on a camel, which gathered imagery as it walked. Using camels for the collection allowed us to collect authentic imagery and minimize our disruption of this fragile environment.


Street View Trekker mounted on a camel

We hope this collection gives you a glimpse of what it may be like to travel the desert as caravan merchants have for the past 3000 years. Should you make the journey here in person, who knows—you may meet some new friends. To see more, visit the Street View gallery.