14th December 2017
The Arabic name Rub al Khali means “empty quarter.” The name was given to it because it’s a huge stretch of unbroken sand desert that has bested kings, adventurers, and nomads for thousands of years. In a region defined by deserts, the Rub al Khali came to be known for being especially daunting and inhospitable. But while it might not be the place to build a town, it has become an attraction for adventurous travelers who want to experience a real natural wonder.
It covers a quarter of a million square miles or 650,000 square kilometers. To put that in context it means that Rub al Khali is forty thousand square miles larger than the country of France! That staggering comparison makes it easy to see how the Empty Quarter earned the title of the largest uninterrupted desert on Earth!
The Empty Quarter receives just 1.2 inches of rain a year. This is a desert that makes Death Valley and its annual 2.4 inches of rainfall look positively wet! The area is one of the driest places you can find on earth and subsequently one of the most sparsely populated. This makes it the perfect place to be if you want to find peace and quiet.
While traders have made the trek across the Rub Al Khali in search of riches throughout history, the vast desert has still escaped any permanent human presence. Although, a legend tells of a city lost within the sands of The Empty Quarter. Known as 'Atlantis of Sand', Ubar, and Iram, many have searched for it, but no one has ever found it. Logic says that no lasting settlement could have been built without the use of modern technology, but adventurers still keep an eye out for signs of a civilization swallowed by the desert sands.
One of the words most commonly used when describing this desert is “otherworldly.” After moving beyond the buildings, powerlines, and streets, you are left facing an untouched landscape that feels like something out of a science fiction movie. The desert has been used as the backdrop for Star Wars and Matrix films. Authors like H.P. Lovecraft, Frank Herbert, and Clive Barker have also drawn inspiration from the desert when creating their own fantasy worlds. If you want to leave the earth you know behind, without having to become an astronaut, then a trip to Rub Al Khali is the next best thing.
Rub al Khali is one of the all too few locations left in the world where a camper can experience sleeping under the stars. Light pollution has made it difficult for most of us to get a clear view of the stars. It’s only when you escape civilization and travel out into an unbroken stretch of nature like Rub al Khali that you can finally see all the stars that our ancestors saw when they looked up at the heavens.
The desert is, ironically, an oasis of nature in a world dominated by concrete and modernity. Stepping outside of ordinary life and into the Empty Quarter is a transcendent experience. However, traveling through the largest desert in the world is not something that should be taken lightly.
Signing up for a tour offered by Wild Frontiers will ensure that you can focus on the beauty of the desert without having to worry about your safety as this will looked after by our experienced guides and tour leaders. Many travelers overlook the desert when searching for destinations. It’s their loss, anyone who has experienced Rub Al Khali sees a nature in its true, untamed magnificence.
The desert is waiting. Come see what it's all about on our Oman Desert Adventure Tour.