Sunday, April 02, 2023 | Ramadan 10, 1444 H
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A feeling of fullness @ Empty Quarter


Empty Quarter is a place of sublime beauty. For me, all the dominant natural forces cast a magic spell on me, making me yearn again and again for a return, Gisela Volger, writer from Scotland

With the onset of the winter season, the tour operators involved in offering camping facilities in Rub al Khali are busy giving final touches to camps and other basic arrangements keeping in mind huge popularity of Empty Quarter (Rub al Khali) among European tourists.

The tour operators are busy receiving the charter and cruise guests from several European countries. Camping in Empty Quarter is high on agenda among the tourists due to its popularity and mention of the place in many books.

Mabrook Ahmed Masan has one small camping area in the Empty Quarter where he receives guests and tells them the stories associated with the place. The requirements to be in the Empty Quarter, according to Mabrook, are very limited for a Bedouin “but we have to do special arrangements for the guests coming from outside.” “We take care of their food, stay and basic facilities like toilets, water supply etc. Being amid the nature is so refreshing that they forget the facilities of multi-star hotels, and simply love to indulge in a ‘million-star accommodation’, fitted only with natural things.” He insists that one needs to be a poet, an artist or someone who has ability to understand the nature and perceive it in its true sense to explain the real beauty of Empty Quarter.

“What you need is just a ‘dishdasha’ and a stick, and you are master of the Empty Quarter. We never ask for anything from any one,” said Bakheet, another resident of Shishr. Both Mabrook and Bakheet had worked for some time with the archaeologists while the excavation of the lost city of Ubar was going on. The lost city of Ubar, some 170 km away from Salalah, is on the way to Empty Quarter. Mabrook’s camp is some 30 km away from Shishr.

A tourist and writer from Scotland, Gisela Volger finds the Empty Quarter a place of sublime beauty. “For me, all dominant natural forces cast a magic spell on me, making me yearn again and again for a return,” she said.

Ben from Germany was also very happy to be in the Empty Quarter. “I cannot tell you how good I am feeling while enjoying the warmth, both of the Sun and the hospitable people of Salalah. I am enjoying every bit of time here and was simply amazed to experience true nature while doing camping with my group in the Empty Quarter,” he said.

Said Ahmed al Fareh, Managing Director of Al Fawaz Tours, confirmed that Rub al Khali is becoming popular among the tourists. “We had started with a few tents in 2010. Now we not only have to raise the number of tents, but have added many new facilities and are planning to set up a new camp equipped with the latest facilities suiting to the needs of the travellers.” “Tourists love simple arrangements in the desert such as fixed tents, which can accommodate up to three people in each tent and a total of 27 at a time. Simple yet modern toilet facilities are available at the camp and the most popular area is the fireplace where the tourists gather generally after the night meal and listen to Arabic songs and stories from the guides,” he said.

— Picture courtesy: Nomad Reisen

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