The Arabic name Rub al Khali means “empty quarter.” It's not difficult to see how it earned its name - this huge stretch of unbroken sand desert has challenged 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. Yet for those seeking an escape from the stresses of modern life in stunning surroundings, the Empty Quarter has become something of a nirvana.
The sheer size of the Empty Quarter Desert can be hard to fathom.
The Empty Quarter is over 650,000 square kilometres, meaning the Rub al Khali is larger than France. It covers parts of south western Oman, northern Yemen, southern Saudi Arabia and part of the UAE.
The Empty Quarter is one of the harshest environments 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.
The Atlantis of the Sands
In 1930, while the explorer Bertram Thomas was trying to become the first European to cross the great sands, he heard tales from his Bedouin escorts of a lost city whose wicked people had attracted the wrath of God and had been destroyed. Thomas didn't come across any remains of the city, but relayed his story to T.E. Lawrence, who regarded Ubar as the "Atlantis of the Sands". This lost city soon became an explorer's fascination, yet no one has ever conclusively found any remains beyond the odd ruined fort or collapsed well.
A visit to The Empty quarter is like traveling to another planet.
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.
It’s the place to find some of the best outdoor camping in the world
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 Empty Quarter offers an chance to witness nature in its purest form.
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.