Category Archives: desert

The Empty Quarter Desert – Life & Death

Sand Dunes in the Wind

“No Arab loves the desert. We love water and green trees. There is nothing in the desert and no man needs nothing.” (quote from the character, Prince Feisal, in the movie “Lawrence of Arabia“)

FUN in the SUN at the Empty Quarter Desert, Oman

If you google “largest deserts in the world“, it’s amazing how many differences there are depending on which site you reach. Some say this desert (The Empty Quarter or “Rub Al Khali” in Arabic) is the 5th largest in the world while others say the 3rd largest. It also depends on whether you are talking about sub-tropical deserts or cold winter deserts.

Directions to the Empty Quarter from Ibri

Like I was saying, there is nothing worse than having unclear directions. This is even more terrible when we are talking about possibly being stranded in the middle of nowhere with little or no gas at temperatures past 40 degrees Celsius!
So, here are specific instructions for the adventurous souls who wish to take a trip out to see the sand dunes. First of all, make sure you have a FULL TANK OF GAS and PLENTY OF WATER. We went on 3/4 of a tank and barely made it back to town on the gas fumes!
At the main Round About (half-way between Ibri College and the Sultan Qaboos Mosque, near Shell station and the car dealerships), head towards Ramlat Khalia. Reset your odometer to zero. This will help you out. After 6.6 kilometers you will see the following sign and a water tower(the square building in the background).

Again, reset your odometer to zero and turn RIGHT. Drive 27 kilometers and you will see the following signs.

Again, I recommend resetting your odometer to zero as you turn right off the main road (just past a radio tower by the way). You may be tempted to stop along the way and take photos of what seem to be impressive sand dunes. Don’t do it! They are nothing compared to the dunes awaiting you if you keep going forward! Make sure you have your headlights on. This is the law here for driving on such rough, gravel roads. The speed limit is 80 kms/hour but it is one rough road so I don’t recommend going that fast! At about 82 kms, you will start seeing many camps (photography prohibited! and many of the side roads are private areas so don’t get off the main path!). You really need to go at least 90 kilometers until you get past all the camps. IF you turn off almost exactly at 92.5 kilometers and head off-road to the dunes on your left, you will even be treated with photo ops with a camel carcass just shy of the dunes.

This is what the road conditions are like most of the way. Some parts are pretty clear sailing, but be warned-sometimes a giant pothole will catch you off-guard and so you really need to be super alert when driving this road! I truly hope this helps anyone out who decides to make the trip. If you go , have fun but be careful! There are quite a few people who have died on this road…

The Elusive Search for the Empty Quarter Desert

NO, this is NOT it. Due to very bad directions given by several sources on the internet (and bad direction following on my part, no doubt), I was not able to find the famous Empty Quarter Desert which is just outside of Ibri. The weather must have been 45 degrees Celsius on this day.

These are some of the scenes I took in driving (incorrectly) on the road towards Salalah.

I’m sure you know what the Arabic reads on the side mirror…

An Omani version of the Sphinx?!

Well, this can captured exactly how I was feeling after my long wild goose chase! Like all the energy, color and life was being sapped out of me….The next day I went out, once again, but this time armed with directions from my colleague, Baxter, and 2 friends to help out (Said and Jonathan). The Empty Quarter Desert was quite an awesome scene and God willing, I’ll share some of that with you tomorrow…