The Mystical "Empty Quarter"
04 January 2014
We had long heard about the beauty and mystique of the Rub al Khali Desert, also known as The Empty Quarter. This prompted us to plan a 3rd wedding anniversary trip to Abu Dhabi, UAE. We had to see for ourselves whether this place is really as fascinating as what the travel forums and guidebooks had described it to be.
The Empty Quarter is the largest sand desert in the world, spanning across 4 countries: Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and UAE. The scale of the desert is jaw-dropping: a thousand kilometres long and five hundred kilometres wide. The region is almost uninhabited due to the extreme heat, scarce rain and lack of vegetation, hence the name.
This picture was captured while we were attempting to climb up one of the sand dunes in the middle of the Empty Quarter to catch the sunset. The climb, which initially appeared rather easy, turned out to be more difficult than we have thought. As we got higher, the sand got finer and our feet were “submerged” knee deep into the soft sand. Each step taken almost set you back by another two steps.
We persevered and after an arduous climb of about 45 mins, we finally reached the top of the highest sand dune with us huffing and puffing away. The hard work was paid off with the magnificent scenery before us. Enjoying sunset in the most inhospitable, barren place in the world, there is only one word to describe our feeling then, breath-taking! Looking out into the vast emptiness of the desert, it dawned on us how insignificant human life is comparatively. That is the wonder of nature I suppose.
Soon the sun set upon us and it was time to go downhill before it got too dark. With a heavy heart, we made our way down. However, the beautiful sunset will forever be etched in our memories. We will be back someday!