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Things to do in Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia Cover Image

Things to do at the Empty Quarter in Saudi Arabia

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This article is about helping you find the information and plan your trip to the Empty Quarter in Saudi Arabia.

About the Empty Quarter

Empty Quarter is an expansive desert covering approximately 650,000 square kilometers of the Arabian Peninsula. It desert covers 80 percent of Saudi Arabia’s total area. Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen share the rest of the 20 percent of the desert.

Empty Quarter in Saudi Arabia

The majority of the Empty Quarter is in Southern Saudi Arabia. Rub’ al Khali is smaller than the Sahara Desert. However, it contains about half of the sands as that of the entire Sahara Desert.

Meaning of the Empty Quarter

In Arabic, the desert is known as Rub’ al Khali  (ٱلرُّبْع ٱلْخَالِي) which translates to “Empty Quarter”. According to NASA’s Earth Observatory, though the desert is below sea level, the dunes near the Yemen border are as high as 1200 meters. Despite its vastness and challenging climate, the place has a profound historical and cultural significance, especially among the Bedouins.

Bedouin – the locals of Rub’ al Khali

The Bedouin people are the Arabic-speaking nomadic ethnic group of the deserts in the Middle East countries. They are the original dwellers of Rub’ al Khali and have lived there for thousands of years. Their resilience in search of grazing lands and trade routes is well known.

Life of Bedouins of Saudi Arabia Empty Quarter

Crossing the Empty Quarters

Wilfred Thesiger, a British officer, writer, and explorer in his book “Arabian Sands” (1959) shared how Bedouins’ way of life in the desert made them fatalists. Their humility and oneness with the sands, and storms, and acceptance of nature’s blessings and hardship made them formidable.

Before Thesiger, in 1931 and 1932, Bertram Thomas (the first European) and St. John Philby were the first visitors who crossed the Rub’al Khali with the Bedouins. St. John Philby put forward how the Bedouins called the Rub al Khali desert “empty” despite living in it, due to its vastness and unpredictable wilderness.

Things to do at the Empty Quarter – Rub’ al Khali

1. Camel Ride

Camel Ride in the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia

A camel ride in Empty Quarter is a testament to the deep cultural essence of the desert and its people. Like the mountains, and deserts allow you to disconnect and be one with nature.
The true essence of desert life is best experienced by joining a caravan with the Bedouins and camels on their journey across the desert. If you are visiting Rub’ al Khali for a day or two, a guided tour and a short camel ride can be an enriching experience too.

2. Visit Al-Asfar Lake

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Al Asfar Lake, also known as the Yellow Lake, is located in the Al Ahsa region.  Al Ahsa is the world’s largest oasis. The lake is spread over 20,000 hectares, it is a major source of irrigation for farms.

365 Adventures at Al Asfar lake in Saudi Arabia

Meraj, founder and director, of 365 Adventures visited the lake in November 2023. “The drive through the sand dunes to reach Al Asfar Lake was adventurous. No wonder, it is called Yellow Lake because of the surrounding sand dunes.  I had a pleasant experience of sitting by the lake, watching the migratory birds and the greenery”, he added.


Meraj of 365 Adventures at Al Asfar Lake in Saudi Arabia

As the weather from November to February is cooler, it is a perfect time to visit Al Asfar. Green ambiance, dark blue waters, the chirping of birds, and a cool breeze – a peaceful day camping experience awaits you.

Deserts are not always about camel riding, kayaking and boating at Al Asfar Lake is proof of that. Considering its terrain, it can be reached only via 4×4 vehicles and camel rides. A guided tour to Al Asfar is a must to get access to this offbeat place. You can book your Al Ahsa Tour with us.

3. Sunset View at the Edge of the World

The sight of the mountains of Saudi Arabia had always fascinated Meraj during his pilgrimage trips. He finally visited the “Edge of the World”, also known as Jebel Fihrayn in the Najd Region. It is a 1,131m high cliff in the Tuwaik Mountains. In the north, the plateau starts from Qassim and ends at the Empty Quarter covering 800 km.

Meraj founder of 365 Adventures at the Edge of the World in Saudi Arabia

“Oh My God, it is beautiful!” – Meraj told himself in awe when the sunset colors turned from orange to purple and became one with the brown desert. From the top, the Ghodi and the Samar trees appeared like dots amidst the dunes.

Jebel Firhayn - Edge of the World Photo

From a hike to a 4×4 ride, everything about Jebel Firhayn is an adventure. Formed around 135 and 180 million years ago, it was once an ocean bed and is now a rocky desert. The Edge of the World is fascinating, isn’t it? The presence of marine fossils will surprise you.

Such offbeat treasures need the right expertise to guide you during your visit, contact us to book your Edge of the World Tour.

4. Camping under a galaxy of stars

Deserts are unique with their day and night temperatures. Experience its diversity and its calmness by camping under a galaxy of stars in the Empty Quarter desert. The moonlit desert and the clearest view of stars – a rare experience in today’s light-polluted skies.

An evening around the bonfire, sipping Qahwa (Saudi Coffee), chewing the delicious dates, and gazing at the stars – Precious! Isn’t it?

Camping at Night in the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia

Best Time to Visit Empty Quarter Desert

The scorching 51°C in summer makes it unbearable for normal tourists. The winter months – October to March is the best time to visit the Empty Quarter. Temperatures come down to 28 °C during the day, while some regions like the Tuwaik mountains of Empty Quarter receive snow.

How to plan your Empty Quarter Tours in Saudi Arabia?

Like the places shared above, there are more offbeat places like Um Al Hadeed, Bayda’ Allahy, Tawil Al Khattam, and Umm Quroon in Saudi Arabia.

At, 365 Adventures, we have made it easier for you to visit the different destinations and activities in Empty Quarter.

Here are the Empty Quarter Tours –

Umm Ahesh – Ain Hamaydan Tour – 7 Days

The locations you will cover in this tour of the Empty Quarter are – Umm Athla, Al Kharj City, Al Shalafa, Umm Al Hadeed, Tawil Al Khattam, Munjour, Al Qaadm, Um Ahesh, Al-Kudn, Ghadah Al-Hissan. From deserts to lakes, boating to relaxing in a hot jacuzzi – it has it all.

Know more and Book Your Um Ahesh – Ain Hamaydan Tour of Empty Quarter with 365 Adventures.


Umm Ahesh Empty Quarter Saudi Arabia

Umm Quroon Tour – 5 Days

A 5-day tour of the Empty Quarter to places like Umm Al-Hadid, Umm Quroon, AL Shalafa, Um Athla, and Ghadah Al-Hosan area. The Umm Quroon Well is a popular destination of Rub al Khali in the Dukakh region. With dune walks, desert sunset views, campfire, jacuzzi relaxation, and offroad adventures – cherish the calming tour experience.

Know more and Book your Umm Quroon Tour with 365 Adventures.


Umm Quroon Tour Empty Quarter in Saudi Arabia

Empty Quarter – Umm Al-Hish Tour – 5 Days

A 5-day road trip taking you to Umm El Hish Oasis in the Empty Quarter desert. Covering 800 km of distance, this adventurous tour includes camping, sand boarding, and swimming in the clear waters of the lakes in the middle of a desert among others.

Know more and Book Your Umm Al-Hish Tour of Empty Quarter

Umm Al-Hish Tour in Empty Quarter Pouring Qahwa arabic coffee

Summing Up

Were you aware of or have visited these places in the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia?

Now that you know about Edge of the World, Al Ahsa Oasis, Al-Asfar Lake, Umm Quroon, and others, we want you to have the best experience the way we did.

Contact us at info@365adventures.me to communicate with us directly.

Find more Saudi Arabia Tours here.

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