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The Empty Quarter: What is happening in the largest sand desert?

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A sudden and rare scene of torrents flowing from the ground in the Nafud Al-Dahi area in the Empty Quarter desert in southeastern Saudi Arabia, the pioneers of social media, after the region witnessed heavy rains during the past days.

empty quarter

A number of sections of water were circulated that covered the most dry places in the world, turning the extremely dry Empty Quarter desert into an oasis.

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What is happening in the largest sand desert in the world?

The Empty Quarter desert has for centuries been a dangerous route for those who cross it due to its continental climate, very hot in summer and cold in winter.

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The Empty Quarter is the largest continuous sand desert in the world, occupying the southeastern third of the Arabian Peninsula, and is known as the Al-Ahqaf Desert.

The Empty Quarter currently extends between 4 countries, namely Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman and the UAE, and the bulk of it is located within Saudi territory. However, the current development, energy discoveries and road construction in the desert began to lose its historical name, derived from its devoid of population, so what is happening in the Empty Quarter today?

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The Empty Quarter – Location, terrain and new road

The Empty Quarter covers an area of ​​600,000 km2, and about 80% of its sand is located within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It extends 1,000 km in length and 500 km in width, and the sand dunes rise 300 meters, and they move constantly, making the Empty Quarter undefined. The Empty Quarter desert for centuries remained a dangerous road due to its continental climate that is very hot in summer and cold in winter, with little rainfall and frequent sandstorms throughout the year.

And last December 2021, the first land road between Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman was opened, and tens of thousands of travelers were able to pass for the first time in history via a regular road. The highway extends across that vast desert by a 680-kilometre road, shortening nearly 800 km, starting from Haradh Al-Batha Road and continuing towards the New Amman Road field from Saudi Arabia.

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In an article in the Saudi Al-Jazirah newspaper, the Saudi expert, Dr. Taneb Al-Faydi, says, “The source of this name is an ancient Arab, because this name was mentioned in the famous Arab book Al-Bahar Ibn Majid called Al-Fawa’id fi Usool Al-Bahriyyah wa Al-Qaida – in the year 895 AH. The Empty Quarter is determined to be on the outskirts of Ma’rib Many shrubs and herbs grow in the Empty Quarter, especially in the spring.”

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Al-Faydi added: “Because that desert is the mouth of the Najd valleys and some of the valleys of Asir, Yemen and Oman, there is a widespread belief that there is a large stock of water under its sands. It is buried under the sands of this desert, but no one has found it.”

Wildlife and riches of the Empty Quarter

The Saudi authorities were able to complete the first phase of the wildlife reserve in the Empty Quarter, which opened in December 2016, as part of new initiatives to protect the environment. Three species of animals of the Arabian Peninsula, such as the Arabian Oryx, sand deer and ostriches, which were on the verge of extinction, were brought back to their original habitat.

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This desert is full of huge wealth of oil, natural gas, radioactive minerals, glass sands and solar energy, and a huge deposit of crude oil has been discovered under its sands. The Aghwar field and Shaybah field in the middle of the Empty Quarter are the largest oil fields in the world, and there are many artesian wells, including shallow and deep ones, according to what Al-Arabiya quoted the geological expert, Dr. Hammoud Al-Shanti as saying.

Al-Shanti said that “the water is increasing in the southeast on the Saudi-Emirati and Omani borders, which are areas rich in water due to the presence of water depressions, because the water gathers towards the slope and the layers tilt towards the east or southeast.”

Changes are coming soon

In turn, weather and meteorology expert Dr. Khaled Al-Zaqaq explained to Al that the world is now living in an era in which climate changes have become a universal and indisputable reality, stressing that these changes are inevitably coming, as he put it.

He also added that these changes are divided into two parts, which will be in the interest of Arab countries, while they will have a negative impact on European countries and some Asian countries.

He pointed out that the Arabian Peninsula will witness these changes from its north to its south and east to its west, citing the remarkable changes that the southwestern part of Saudi Arabia, called the Empty Quarter, is experiencing.

He added that it was called the “Empty Quarter” in the past due to the emptiness of life in it due to the lack of rain.

In recent times, it has started to rain every year, and the valleys buried within the sands of the Empty Quarter have come to life again, and this is conclusive evidence that climatic changes are inevitably coming, according to him.

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It is noteworthy that the Empty Quarter witnessed during the past days heavy rain and unspeakable torrential rain, in an unfamiliar scene in that region, and social media pioneers documented it with dozens of videos.

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