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The Empty Quarter in Saudi Arabia Report

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Updated: Dec 4th, 2019


The Empty Quarter is also known in Arabic as the Rub’ al Khali, a large desert covers the southern side of Saudi Arabia and forms part of the southeastern part of the Arab peninsula. The region forms the largest desert in the Arab peninsula.

The Empty Quarter region has sand dunes that are averagely 600m high and the region experiences summer daytime temperatures of up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperatures decrease up to 32 degrees Fahrenheit at night. The barrenness of the region, together with the harsh temperature makes its inhospitable.

As a result, the area has mainly remained unexplored. This essay is a description of the region that play a key role in the economy of Saudi Arabia and is very important to the world as a source of energy. Despite its recognition as a major oil producer, other interests of equal importance exist in the Empty Quarter.

Importance of the Empty Quarter

Saudi Arabia has concentrated on oil mining as the main source for its foreign exchange reserves despite the fact that the country is endowed with other rich minerals that are yet to be fully exploited. The region is big covering 650,000 square kilometers and starts from Saudi Arabia and covers Yemen, Oman and the United Arab Emirates on the southern part.

The Empty Quarter was more hospitable in the past; fossils of hippos indicate that it initially was a wet area before drying up. The inhospitable nature of the region is believed to have started in 300 CE.

Historically the region is known for the early civilizations and cities that were constructed in it as well as the trade routes that passed through. Currently, the region is an archeological attraction and several artifacts have been found.

The area is known for its prominent role in movies and novels by famous film and book publishing companies in the world. For example, the Empty Quarter has been chosen to be the setting of a new video game for the popular console by Sony, PlayStation 3, which will be released to the public in November.

The sand dunes covering the region are monotonous. The area is secretive and presents wonders, for example although it contains very little vegetation and receives marginal rainfall annually, the area supports a number of animal species.

These include, gazelles, Oryx; that are a special breed of antelopes with straight horns, sand cats, which are beautiful wild cats that get their water supply from their animal preys. In addition, there are spiny tailed lizards. These animals surface at the desert immediately after the winter rains and bring back the life of the region that is otherwise nonexistent.

The subsequent dissertation that has occurred over the years is responsible for the formation of vast oil reserves beneath the sand dunes that now make up mountain like structures in this region.

The oil deposits of the Empty Quarter amount to 7 billion barrels, making it the second largest reserve in the world. There is an increasing interest by oil and gas exploration companies in the region that is informed by the discovery of the new fields that are yet to be covered with the current gas-oil separation plants and their vast resources.

In the oil production business, the north eastern part of the Empty Quarter is the main exploited oil part in the region. During the early times of the oil exploration and production, there were few companies; however, the discovery of huge oil reserves in the region attracted interest from a worldwide pool of companies in the oil and gas industry.

Other Endowments of the Region

Other than the oil and gas industry, the Empty Quarter is attractive for the Hotel and Tourism industry. The popularity of desert tourism, which includes camel rides and festival, is a recent export of the region to the world.

The vastness of the desert is attractive for tourists seeking to enjoy the sand and sun at their own discretion. In addition, the land availability attracts investors wishing to set up resorts to accommodate such tourists.

Historically deserts have been associated with camels and caravans; a recollection of this experience is now possible in the Empty Quarter with the advent of desert tourism service.

Investors are keen to maintain the traditional concept of the desert history while adding modern facilities to accommodate tourists who otherwise would be unable to survive in the harsh desert conditions as the locals do. Another attraction of the desert is sky watching for sky lovers. The vastness of land without settlements and obstructions makes it a wonderful for night sky watching.

To increase the attractiveness of the region, hotel and tourism investors artificially construct oases to complete the relaxation experience of their guests away from the congestion of cities in a quiet environment occasioned by regular sound waves of winds blowing on sand dunes (Construction Week Para.2-5).

The Empty Quarter is also endowed with another energy source other than oil. The second energy source, solar, abundant in the Empty Quarter dessert, is renewable and has attracted a considerable interest from renewable energy interest groups and green crusaders.

On the contrary, the oil reserve in the Empty Quarter is a non-renewable resource and therefore each successful drilling and production depletes the remaining reserve of the region. The growth of the world economy and especially in the Far East region has resulted to an increased demand for oil and gas as a source of energy.

The expanding middle class in newly industrialized countries such as China and India as well as their rapidly growing manufacturing and construction industries drives the demand for oil and thereby increases its depletion from the Empty Quarter.

Emerging Interests

New technology has made it possible to prospect for minerals and archeological artifacts and this has catalyzed a renewed interest on the area. Solar energy is now touted as the next frontier because of its renewability and its abundance in the region.

However, the current development of solar power technology is still a limiting factor. The Saudi government still depends on the oil revenue from the region and as a result has been less concerned about the environmental pollution that the occurs in the area as a result of the oil industry.

This negligence is also aided by the fact that the region is vastly bare apart from seasonal small animal appearances and oases. However, this does not absolve the region of air pollution that is associated with oil and gas emissions in the separation plants (Falola and Genova p.175).


The Empty Quarter is a unique and economically important region that makes up almost half of the southern part of Saudi Arabia. Its endowment with natural resources makes it the backbone of the Saudi economy. New developments in the region aided by advanced technology are seeking to override, albeit slowly, the overall dominance of the oil industry.

Works Cited

Construction Week. “The Liwa Desert Hotel, Empty Quarter.” 8 June 2010. Construction Week. Retrieved from <>.

Falola, Toyin and Ann Genova. The Politics of the Global Oil Industry: An Introduction. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005.

MaxCalderan. “Empty Quater.” 14 August 2010. MaxCalderan. Retrieved from <>.

Wise Geek. “What is the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia.” n.d. Wisegeek.com. Retrieved from <>.

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