Monday, 9 November 2015

Crossing the Empty Quarter: Be Part of the Adventure.

In 1930, one Omani and one British explorer made the first ever recorded crossing of the Rub Al Khali desert. Now that 1,000 kilometre journey across the largest sand desert in the world is about to be repeated for the first time.

About the Expedition

In 1930, a small team of men, guided by Omani Sheikh Salih bin Kalut Al Rashidi al Kathiri, led British explorer Bertram Thomas on the first recorded crossing of this magnificent but dangerous landscape.

Challenged by the unknown, they walked for nearly 1,000 kilometres from the coast of  Oman, through the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to the coast of Qatar.

Now, 85 years later, another team of Omanis is taking on the challenge – leading British explorer Mark Evans across the same stretch of desert.

About the Empty Quarter

The Empty Quarter, or Rub Al Khali, is one of the hottest, driest, most inhospitable and loneliest places on earth. Covering some 650,000 square kilometres of the Arabian Peninsula in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and UAE – an area of sand bigger than France, Belgium and the Netherland combined, it is the biggest sand desert on earth.

Temperatures can climb above 50 degrees Celsius in the summer, and it is not unusual to drop below zero degrees in the depths of winter. Annual rainfall is less than 30mm, and enormous star dunes, some of them almost 1,000 feet high slowly drift across an enormous bed of gypsum and gravel plains, steered and shaped by the winds associated with the high-pressure weather systems that dominate the region.


Mark Evans

Mark Evans, 54, has lived in the region for twenty years. A fellow of the Explorers Club of New York, and The Royal Geographical Society in London, in 2009 Mark set up Outward Bound Oman. Over a period of 55 days in 2001 he kayaked the entire 1,700 km coastline of Oman, from Musandam to Yemen, and in 2004 he set up the University of the Desert, which is Oman’s gift to UNESCO, using the power of the desert environment to foster intercultural dialogue between young people from western and Arab cultures, for which he was awarded the MBE in 2011.

Mohammed Al-Zadjali

Mohammed Al-Zadjali is 32 years old, and comes from Al Musanah, near Muscat in Oman. He is training manager at Outward Bound Oman/Tahaddi, the only Outward Bound school in the Arabic-speaking world. Mohammed spends much of his time instructing and leading groups of young people, and corporates, on challenging outdoor journeys to help develop the key skills of leadership and communication, to enhance their employability and improve their performance. To commemorate the Empty Quarter journey, Mohammed’s first son, born earlier this year, was named after Sultan Taimur.

Amour Al-Wahaibi

Amour Al-Wahaibi, 38, is both part of and at one with the desert. Born in a small Bedouin community in the northern end of the Sharqiya Sands in Oman, he still lives in the same area where he has raised his seven children, many of whom now help him with his work as a desert guide. Whilst wanting the best of what modern education can provide, Amour is still hopeful that his children will remain living in the sands, where he wants them to enjoy the freedom and lifestyle that is difficult to find in the town and city. Amour bakes the most amazing bread under the fire in the sand, and seems to be able to walk and ride from dawn til dusk without stopping.

For more information, please visit the expedition’s website at
Further details: Facebook page at,
Twitter at
Instagram competition at

Download the official mobile phone application ‘Tahaddi Arabia’ on Android and iOS devices
#CrossingEQ will be used by the official accounts to share details about this historic crossing. 

If you want to discover more about Oman, visit the official website here:


Written by: Oman Tourism UK. Official Account for the Oman Ministry of Tourism MBR in The UK & Ireland. Want to be part of our community? Connect with us!