The Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia, also called Rub’ al Khali in Arabic, is the most uninhabitable place in the world. It is not only the largest unbroken space of sand in the world, but is also the largest desert in the Arabian peninsula. Situated at the lower quarter of the Arabian peninsula, the Empty Quarter makes for as large an area as France, Belgium and the Netherlands combined together(about 650,000 square km). It stretches across the countries of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
It has been calculated recently that the Empty Quarter is 1,200 km long and 500 km wide. During summer, temperatures soar to 60 degrees C (140 degrees F) at noon. The Empty Quarter has many monotonous sand dunes which are as tall as 330 m. Many of them look dark red due to their iron oxide content. The Empty Quarter is accomplished as an “extremely-arid” climate, with about 35 mm of rain per annum, which obviously is enough to sustain some life.
Though Empty quarter has very low biodiversity, but it still does have life. There are around 37 plant species, which is not a bad count considering the climatic conditions here. Though vegetation is scanty, it is evenly distributed and found throughout the Empty Quarter. Animals that live in the Empty Quarter include gazelles, oryx (antelopes with straight horns), sand cats, spiny-tailed lizards, and many others.
The Empty Quarter has many mysterious secrets linked to it. Underneath its mountainous dunes, stand oil reserves that were formed millions of years ago when the area was a tropical rainforest. The Empty Quarter was less arid in the past and this is evident with the presence of fossils of hippos, water buffalo and long-horned cattle. Camel trains were the source of transport across the desert, until it was banned sometime around 300 CE. The Iram of the Pillars, which is accepted as a lost city is thought to be in the desert, and probably even an entire lost civilization. A few artefacts have been found by ground-penetrating radar and analysis of satellite imagery, but the lost city remains mysterious.
Yes absolutely it is! Though it is called the Empty Quarter which means a 'no man's land', that's not quite right when it comes to this region. Nomads do live in some parts of the Quarter at various times of year. The territory borders Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen. Thus if you are planning to go there, refer to tourist guide books, which can provide wonderful insights about desert life and their values. It is called The Empty Quarter but it is a place full of inspiration and creative development!