Highway Empty Quarter is the road through moving sands

Opened in 2015, the Saudi Arabia-Oman highway, known as Highway Empty Quarter, directly connects both countries through the Rub’ al Khali desert, also known as The Empty Quarter, the largest and most barren sand desert in the world. The road has been called an engineering marvel as it was built through the moving sands of the vast Empty Quarter.

Highway Empty Quarter

How long is the Highway Empty Quarter?

The road, which snakes through the world’s largest desert, is totally paved. It’s a dual-carriageway that dramatically cuts down the journey times and distances between the two countries. On the Oman side, it is about 160km long, starting from Tanam in Ibri and ending at the Saudi border. From Saudi Arabia, it stretches 247km from the Omani border to the Shaybah Oil Field and 319km from Shaybah to the Batha-Haradh road, which leads to Riyadh. The new road cuts the distance between Saudi Arabia and Oman by about 800 km.

Is the Highway Empty Quarter challenging?

The highway is one of the longest roads in the Middle East, through one of the harshest, extreme climates in the world, overcoming extreme logistical challenges and achieving demanding service requirements to reach Saudi Arabia’s ambitious infrastructure development program. The construction was extremely hazardous. Intense heat, farness from the nearest inhabited city, shifting sand dunes, and harsh topography and climate all spelled the difficulties in the construction project. The desert is characterized by steep terrain and sand dunes elevated as high as 250 meters (820ft), and this did not hinder the completion of the road construction project. Among other difficulties, the workers and machines had to cope with extreme desert temperatures, reaching 50ºC degrees in the day and dropping to below 0ºC at night.

How to get ready to drive the Saudi Arabia-Oman highway?

While the highway provides an essential link between the two countries, travelers need to exercise caution due to the extreme desert conditions, including high temperatures, limited access to services, and the potential for sandstorms. Proper preparation and adherence to safety guidelines are essential for anyone undertaking a journey along the Saudi Arabia-Oman Highway.

Is the Highway Empty Quarter worth it?

The Rub' al Khali desert is one of the largest sand deserts in the world, covering parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The highway traverses through this vast and inhospitable desert terrain, making it an engineering marvel. Traveling along this highway offers breathtaking views of the desert landscape, with endless stretches of sand dunes and arid terrain. The route is also significant for its strategic importance, connecting key cities and regions in Saudi Arabia and Oman.
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Highway Empty Quarter Map