Abu Dhabi: Its ancient settlements of fishermen, herders and farmers go back 6,000 to 8,000 years. Its forts tower across oases towns amidst some of the most breathtaking sand dunes.

Welcome to the Western Region (Al Gharbia), a huge swathe of land that accounts for 60 per cent of Abu Dhabi’s landmass, which now seeks a bigger share of domestic and international tourists as part of Tourism and Culture Authority Abu Dhabi’s (TCA-AD) push to highlight its cultural and archaeological gems.

From historical monuments to unexplored islands, a map launched by the TCA-AD jointly with the Western Region Development Council (WRDC) is aimed to make some of the region’s most significant locations easier to find.

“Al Gharbia is becoming increasingly popular with visitors, and our new map features all the region’s key places of interest and highlights the region’s fascinating festivals and cultural events,” said Saeed Al Daheri, customer service section manager, TCA-AD.

The newly issued fold-out map also lists the Western Region’s various events and activities which take place during the year including the popular Liwa Date Festival and the Al Dhafra Camel Festival in December.

“The map will help spread the message that there’s much more to see and do in Al Gharbia. In fact, visitors may be surprised by the area’s sheer diversity. We want to help attract more visitors to the region’s festivals and attractions,” said Al Daheri, with a view to increasing average length of stay at its hotels.

The new map features three-dimensional representations of attractions, including detailed plotting of the eight early-19th century forts and towers across the oasis town of Liwa, as well as a visual representation of the five-star Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara deep in the heart of the vast Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter) – the world’s largest uninterrupted sand desert.

Additionally, the map includes details of the archaeological and conservation destination of Sir Bani Yas Island, home to the Arabian Wildlife Park – one of Arabia’s largest wildlife reserves with more than 10,000 free roaming animals – and the range of accommodation choices of Anantara’s Desert Islands Resort & Spa, Al Yamm and Al Sahel Villas, which capitalise on the island’s unique savannah and beach scenery.

Recently, the Department of Transport (DoT) announced that the Centre for Regulation of Transport by Hire Cars (TransAD) line of silver taxis will be available in the Western Region, making it easier for residents and visitors to the area to commute within the region and outside it. The same tariffs implemented in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain will be applicable.

Al Gharbia contributes 40 per cent to Abu Dhabi’s gross domestic product (GDP). A total of Dh295 billion has been invested in a variety of projects in the Western Region in a bid to attract tourists and boost economic grown in the area, according to an official statement from a member of the WRDC, Gulf News reported earlier.

The maps are available in Arabic and English from TCA-AD information centres and visitor information points across the emirate. They can also be obtained by calling toll-free within the UAE on 800 555, or can be downloaded from www.visitabudhabi.ae

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