New Empty Quarter road now operational

Rub Al-Khali is one of the most desolate and dangerous desert areas in the world. — Courtesy photo

By Mohamed Al-Harby

RIYADH — Travelers can now pass through the Rub Al-Khali (Empty Quarter) desert, the largest contiguous sand desert in the world, on a road that links Saudi Arabia to Oman.

The road, which is surrounded by jutting sand dunes on either side, passes through the Shaybah Oil Field. Rub Al-Khali starts on the new road from the Haradh village, passes through the city of Al-Batha, and continues toward the Shaybah Oil Field.

The road then moves toward the new Omani border post reaching a total of 700 km.

A source from the Ministry of Transport said: “More than 130 cubic meters of sand was cleared from the road, with the help of over 600 workers, huge equipment, and companies that are specialized in building roads in the middle of sand dunes.”

The Arabian Desert

Rub Al-Khali is one of the most desolate and dangerous desert areas in the world. It is also the largest contiguous desert that has remained mostly unexplored.

However, desert-dwellers who live in Rub Al-Khali have acted as guides to authorities, researchers and travelers who want to pass through and explore the dangerous area.

Many travelers have journeyed across the Rub Al-Kahli desert, and their trips were documented in some books by authors like the renowned British explorer Wilfred Thesiger.

St. John Philby, also known as Sheikh Abdullah, also passed through the desert after getting the approval of the Kingdom’s founder King Abdulaziz.

Despite the harshness of natural environment in this region and lack of human activity, it is rich in oil, natural gas, radioactive metals, glass sand and solar energy. The experimental wells drilled in the east and southeast of the desert of the Empty Quarter shows that the water is abundant in the Eocene limestone formations which are the same water-bearing layers as in Al-Ahsa. — Al Arabiya English