The Empty Quarter, or “Rub’ al-Khali” is the largest area of continuous sand in the world: 650.000km2. Bigger than France. It’s called the Empty Quarter because it is considered a dead area. No water, sand dunes that big and steep that even camels have a problem crossing the area and with a wind that constantly changes the shape of the sand dunes. It’s one of the driest regions in the world, it is basically uninhabited and largely unexplored. With the discovery of a huge oilfield, there is of course some activity but it is still considered a dead area. This is the Empty Quarter:
I went to the outskirts of the area: In UAE and very close to the Saudi boarder
As always it’s the mornings that allow me to explore an area where ever I happen to be in the world. I picked up a Surly Moonlander at 06.15. The sun wasn’t up, but I was… To start with it was really dark but it got lighter and lighter by the minute. I set off for a big sand dune that I had spotted from the resort (Qasr Al Sarab). First time on a fat bike and I was totally amazed how it could climb the soft sand. Wow!
The last part was however too soft and I had to walk. The resort is in a way a pervert creation… some 10km into the Empty Quarter, but filled with all the modern luxury you can image. It was for sure a good feeling to leave it behind and juts enjoy the true desert. From this high dune I more or less straight lined it all the way down to the salty flat area. What a rush. Some 75 meters of vertical descent in sand… A bit like skiing, which I did just one week ago. Absurd.
From the flat part I started a new climb. Remarkable how something can grow in this environment
The sun is still not up but enough light to shoot a selfie
Fat is the name
The big sand dune that I climbed and descended in the background
Fat bike is the shit in this environment! You can hardly walk in the sand but you can bike. Amazing! Even the downhilling is awesome. Amazing grip and roll!
Finally the sun is not only up but manage to break through the light clouds
I reach the “valley” with a fold belonging to the resort. It’s full of the Arabian Oryx, nowadays almost extinct as a wild species. It’s an animal totally designed to survive in the very harsh desert conditions.
With the sun light the colors of the desert change
I head back for the resort. No matter how much the humans are trying to tame the desert the elements of nature still decide. This palm tree is about to be swallowed by a sand dune.
It’s almost 8 o’clock when I’m back in the resort. The light is again totally different. It’s a nice feeling having all the luxury of the resort again, and even nicer to know what it’s like just a few pedal strokes away…