Rab al Khali is a vast desert zone that exists in the southern Arabian Peninsula. It constitutes a significant portion of the famous Arabian desert. It is a dry sand desert that covers around 700,000 km square. The desert spreads over multiple nations, including Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. It is also popularly known as the Empty Quarter or the Empty Quarter desert. Numerous tourist activities are organized at the desert such as dune bashing, camel riding, camping, and sand boarding. The desert also attracts tourists from around the globe due to its mystical charms and popular tales.
Overview of the Empty Quarter
Rab al khali is quite well-known in the world mainly as it is the largest area with continuous sand. Geographically, it occupies more than one-fourth of Saudi Arabia’s total land area. The landscape of this region varies a lot because of its massive size. The western part of the Empty Quarter Saudi Arabia desert stands over 600 meters above sea level. While the eastern zone sees the elevation drop to about 200 meters above sea level. Dunes, salt flats, and sheets of sand are a common sight in this region.
The Empty Quarter’s sand has a reddish-orange tint to it due to the presence of feldspar in the region. One can find the brackish salt flats in the Umm al Samim area which is towards the desert’s eastern border. In the middle length of the Empty Quarter, one can find multiple sites of minerals that once used to be lakes. These sites date back nearly five or six millenniums. The sites once had different varieties of flora and fauna. The fossils that remain indicate the presence of various animal species, including snails, hippopotamuses, and water buffaloes.
Things to do at Rab al Khali
Rab al Khali might be a desert, but that does not stop it from being a top-rated tourist attraction worldwide. This desert offers several leisure activities that tourists can choose from. The following are a few activities that one can participate in and make their visit a memorable one:
1. Desert camping
The Empty Quarter is one of the best places for desert camping. Camping on the dunes of Rab al Khali with stars twinkling right above does sound like quite a fantastic experience. One can organize dinner with the Bedouins and get to know about their traditions. Tourists can enjoy the golden sunsets of the Middle East while sipping on a hot cup of tea.
2. Driving off-road
Rab al Khali allows one with the driving experience of a lifetime. Tourists can rent out an SUV and set off on a journey going over dunes and passing by dry lakes. They can always hire a tour operator to make the driving experience all the more safe and fun.
3. Sandboarding and Skiing
The Empty Quarter is the perfect place to try sandboarding as enormous dunes aid the overall experience to a great extent. Slipping down on the soft red sand is a must try activity in one’s lifetime. The sport is pretty safe because of the soft surface. However, quick sand can be perilous; hence, one should always perform the activity under supervision of experts.
4. Crystal hunting
Rab al Khali is a massive treasure chest full of geodes. These crystalized pebbles are present in the sands of the Empty Quarter and have an ornamental look. Tourists can go treasure hunting of their own free will without any interruptions. A number of stone collectors travel to the desert and dig in for hidden treasures.
5. Camel riding
A trip to the desert is always incomplete without treating oneself with its most popular activity which is camel riding. These majestic creatures have been bred to thrive in such harsh living conditions, making them one of the most popular means of commuting in a desert. One can join other caravans by following the specified route and turn back time by experiencing this old and medieval mode of transport.
Story of Rab al Khali
The Rab al Khali can strike one as a very solitary and secluded region due to its name and also because it is one of the driest deserts in the world. However, the Empty Quarter has not always been this empty. Nearly 1700 years ago, this region used to see caravans crossing it as a part of the ancient frankincense trade. This continued up until the route became too difficult to travel through. According to scriptures, the lost city of Iram of Pillars, still exists somewhere below this red-hot desert. The city was lost due to the wrath of a God named Atlantis.
In another version of this myth, it has been mentioned that the tribal people of Aad had become disobedient and disrespectful. They committed crimes and acts of blasphemy regularly. Seeing their behavior, Allah decided to send a prophet who could guide them in the right direction, but these messengers of God were stopped at the very gates. Allah was furious, and he cast a cold, violent wind upon them for seven nights and eight days. The wind went on continuously and carried a ton of sand with it. The Prophet and his men were untouched, but the city and the people of Aad were all buried under this sand.
How to reach Rab al Khali
Tourists can travel to Sharurah or Sayun via flights. From there they can avail themselves of public buses. However, the best way to reach Rab al Khali is by hiring a taxi as the journey through the desert can be tiring.
Rab al Khali weather and temperature
Being a desert, Rab al Kahli has extreme summer temperatures making it almost impossible for tourists to visit the location. The temperatures can rise upto 51 degrees celsius during summers. Hence, the best time to visit the desert is during winters (November to February) when the average temperature remains around 28 degree celsius.
Major highlights of Rab Al Khali
The significant highlights of Rab al Khali revolve around the adventure that one can experience in a desert.
- Tourists can try desert camping and camel riding.
- They can visit the old lake sites and get to know about the place’s history.
- There are a multitude of activities that one can choose from depending upon the needs of the types of adventures.
Rab al Khali is one of the best places to visit as the desert is safe for tourists under guidance. The desert offers the opportunity to indulge in numerous tourist activities and adventures. It is surrounded by a majestic aura and charm that welcomes tourists from around the globe.
Rab Al Khali FAQs
Where is the Rub al-Khali located?
The Rub al-Khali is located on the southeastern side of Saudi Arabia. The desert also spreads across Oman, the UAE, and Yemen.
What are the maximum temperatures in Rub al-Khali?
During summers, the Empty Quarter can hit a maximum temperature of 50 °C.
What are the popular activities to try in Rub al-Khali?
One can try camel riding, collect geodes and go off-road driving when they are visiting Rub al-Khali.
Are sand boarding and skiing safe?
Yes, the sand is soft enough to cushion the impact in case one encounters a terrible fall during either of the two activities. So, it is safe to try these rather unconventional sports.