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Empty Quarter

Oman's Empty Quarter is exactly what its name suggests: miles upon miles of empty desert terrain, the second-largest of its type on Earth. Known locally as "Rub' al Khali", the 250,000-square-mile area covers four countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman. It was only mapped by Europeans 80 years ago, and was once described by T E Lawrence as 'the great unsolved question of geography'.

Although most of the desert is located in Saudi Arabia, a significant portion overlaps into Oman, stretching from the Dhofar region to Wusta and along to Al Dhahirah, which is where the famous Umm al Samim quicksands can be found. Comprising seemingly never-ending ripples of sand dunes, the area is yet to see any major development, and settlements are few and far between with just a handful of remote Bedouin villages located mostly towards the edge of the desert. Similarly, tourism in the area is yet to really take off, despite the undeniably beautiful landscape. That said, overnight trips do depart from the nearby city of Salalah, with local Bedu guides available for a more authentic experience.

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