The Nefud Desert

The Nefud desert, known as “Al-Nefud” in Arabic, covers an area the size of Iceland.

The Nefud is influenced by the khamsin: a dry, hot and dust-laden wind blowing at intervals of fifty days and reaching speeds of 140km/hr.

The first Westerner to explore and document the Empty Quarter was Bertrand Thomas in 1931.

An erg is a broad, flat area of sandy desert with little or no vegetation, from the Arabic word “argmeaning sand sea.

The Rub’ al Khali, or Empty Quarter, is the largest sand sea in the world, stretching over an area larger than France.

Deep red “vein” formations, formed by concentrations of iron oxide, are a distinctive feature of the ad-Dahna desert.

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Flying at 13,000m - The sand sea


Flying at 1,000m - ad-Dahna and the Empty Quarter


Flying at ground level - Barchan dunes

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© 2017 Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)