The very name ‘Arabian Desert’ evokes a sense of mysticism and romance but at the same time, it also packs in the dreadful image of the unforgiving land where everything perishes.
Fortunately, only the first part is true. Yes, Arabian Desert is the inspiring source for the tales of Sindbad, Aladdin and Ali Baba.
True that these stories speak of magic and myth sprinkled all over but, are those things real? Let us find out some of the most interesting Arabian Desert facts that will entice you.
Arabian Desert Facts: 1-6 | Location, Boundaries, Size
1. The Arabian Desert is present in West Asia. The desert is a part of several countries which include Jordan, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.
2. It spreads from Yemen to the Persian Gulf and Oman to the Iraq and Jordan.
3. It has an area of 900,000 square miles or 2,330,000 square kilometers. Arabian Peninsula is mostly occupied by the Arabian Desert.
4. It is the largest desert in the whole of Asia and ranks as 4th largest among all the deserts in the world. It comes under “Palearctic ecozone,” and “Deserts and xeric shrublands biome.”
5. Its east-west length is 1,305 miles or 2,100 kilometers. Its north-south width is 684 miles or 1,100 kilometers.
6. Jabal an Nabi Shu’ayb (a mountain in Yemen) is the highest point of the desert with a height of 12,336 feet or 3,760 meters. The mountains in the desert are mostly towards the borders.
Arabian Desert Facts: 7-11 | Geological Features
7. The desert has many geological features such as the Ad-Dahna Desert. It is a sandy terrain – more like a corridor that connects the An-Nafud Desert present in the north of Saudi Arabia to the Rub’ Al-Khali Desert which is to the south-east of Saudi Arabia.
8. Jebel Tuwaiq is yet another geological feature of the Arabian Desert. It is an escarpment (in simple words, steep slope) forming an arc that runs 800 km or 500 miles. This arc consists of plateaux, limestone cliffs, and canyons.
10. Oman’s Wahabi sands (Wahabi sands are present on the east coast of Oman) are present in the Arabian Desert. Wahabi sands is an isolated sand sea.
11. The desert Rub’ Al-Khali is a sedimentary basin (an area which has been sinking and the depression is filled by the sediments of the eroded material of the mountains). It is spread across the Arabian shelf in a south-west to the north-east axis. The meaning of the name is “Empty Quarter”.
Arabian Desert Facts: 12-15 | Natural Resources
12. The sand covers the plains of gypsum or gravel, and the dunes can reach a height of 820 feet or 250 meters.
13. The sand mostly consists of silicates. Quartz makes up 80% to 90% of the silicates while feldspar makes up the remaining percentage.
14. The silicate grains are coated with iron oxide, giving the sand of the Arabian Desert its typical red, purple and orange hue.
15. Oil, phosphates, natural gas, sulfur, etc. are among the natural resources which are present in the Arabian Desert.
Arabian Desert Facts: 16-23 | Biodiversity – Flora
16. Biodiversity refers to both plant and animal life forms. It is quite natural to think that the Arabian Desert will not have much of biodiversity, well, because it is a desert! You are not wrong!
17. Rub’ Al-Khali Desert consists of just 37 plant species. Of these 37 species, 20 of them are present in Rub’ Al-Khali’s main sand body.
18. The remaining 17 plant species are distributed towards the outer margins of the desert.
19. It is pretty interesting to know that despite the scarcity of the plant species present in the desert, the overall distribution of the vegetation is quite even. However, there are some sterile sand dunes in between. Simply put, these dunes are devoid of any vegetation.
20. Out of the 37, only one or two species are endemic.
21. Some plant species that are present in the Arabian Desert are:
- Calligonum crinitum – these are usually found on the slopes of the sand dunes.
- Cyperus conglomeratus.
- Cornulaca arabica – these are usually referred to as saltbush.
22. Trees such as Prosopis cineraria and Acacia ehrenbergiana etc. are seen only on the outskirts of the desert.
- Date Palms
- Desert Roses
- Caper Plant
- Ghaf Tree
- Juniper Trees
- Myrrh Trees
Arabian Desert Facts: 24-28 | Biodiversity – Fauna
24. The fauna species include gazelles, Ibex, sand cats, onyx, spiny-tailed lizards, dhub, cobras, monitor lizards, horned vipers, etc.
25. Some of the animals like the jackal, striped hyena, honey badger, etc. became extinct because of habitat destruction, hunting, and other human activities.
26. Insects like wasps, bees, ants, beetles (especially scarab beetles or dung beetles), moths, spiders are also seen.
27. Vultures, swallows, buzzards, and doves are some of the bird species that are seen in the Arabian Desert.
28. The dwindling numbers of some of the mammals of the desert have made the country contemplate the possibility of captive breeding of those animals and then releasing them into the wild.
Arabian Desert Facts: 29-37 | Climate of the Arabian Desert
29. The weather of the Arabian Desert is pretty much like the climate of the Sahara Desert.
30. The Arabian Desert is an extension of the Saharan Desert in the Arabian Peninsula. The desert is situated in the subtropical region.
31. Climate is usually hot and dry with a lot of sunshine or insolation. The amount of rainfall in the area is around 100 millimeters but, in some areas, only 30 to 40-millimeter rainfall is seen (this situation is not seen all over the year)
32. The Arabian Desert doesn’t have any hyper-arid areas (areas which receive rainfall less than 50 millimeters) like the Sahara Desert.
33. The Arabian Desert receives sunshine from 2,900 (66.2% of daylight hours) to 3,600 hours (82.1%) a year, but the average is 3,400 hours (77.6%).
34. Because of dust and little humidity, travelers find it difficult to travel in the desert.
35. Average high temperatures in summer are usually around 40 to 48 degrees Celsius, and average low temperatures in summers are from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius.
36. Weirdly, the temperatures at night are freezing cold and may dip lower than 0 degrees Celsius sometimes.
37. Winds blow from the Mediterranean region and reach the Arabian Peninsula. The two windy seasons continue for nearly 50 days and are called as Shamals. Sandstorms are caused because of these shamals.
Arabian Desert Facts: 38- | People, Culture, Threats
38. Islam is the dominant religion of the area and major group of people are the Arabs and their language is Arabic.
39. The Arabian Desert is famed for the Bedouins. The Bedouins are the nomadic inhabitants of the desert who are known for being extremely welcoming to visitors.
40. The Bedouins (meaning “Desert Dwellers”) are known for staying away from the land. They are nomadic by nature. Simply put, they travel around the desert and engage in little agriculture in whatever fertile land they can find.
41. Bedouin groups have one leader known as Sheikh. Bedouins have a patriarchal hierarchy.
42. There are several ecological threats to the desert. Military activity remains one of the biggest threats to the ecosystem of the Arabian Peninsula.
43. The oil spill (done by Iraq) which directly entered in the Persian Gulf in 1991 not only killed numerous birds but also disturbed the aquatic ecosystem especially dugongs, fish, turtles, dolphins, whales, etc.
Did you know?
Iraqi forces, during the Gulf War, released a whopping 11 million barrels of oil directly into the Persian Gulf.
Iraqi forces also destroyed an astounding 1,164 oil wells in Kuwait.
The wells that were damaged by the Iraqi forces released 60 million barrels of oil right into the Arabian Desert.
The oil released from the Kuwaiti oil wells managed to create oil lakes in the desert with the total surface area of 49 square kilometers!
44. The desert itself is in critical or endangered status. Many animals like the white oryx and sand gazelle are threatened, and as mentioned earlier some of the species are already extinct.
45. Other ecological threats are the destruction of the habitat, overgrazing by herbivorous animals like camels, goats, etc., agriculture-related projects and production of natural gas and oil.
Arabian Desert Fun Facts: 46-56
46. The Arabian Desert is four times that of France.
47. Whirlwinds which occur for a longer period are known as Dust Devils.
48. Unlike the popular belief, not even a single species of cacti grows in the Arabian Desert.
49. Rub’ Al-Khali is the largest area of continuous sand in the whole world.
50. The Sand Cat or the Arabian Desert Cat has similar looks to that of domesticated cats. However, their features are pretty enhanced as compared to the domesticated cats.
51. Compared to the domesticated cats, the Desert Cats have larger ears, flatter, and wider face.
52. Sand Cats have short fur that helps them to deal with the immense heat of the desert.
53. The paws of the Sand Cats are oval paws with fur right between the toes. The fur is present to protect the Sand Cats from the scorching heat of the sand.
54. The Arabian Wolf is yet another remarkable animal found in the Arabian Desert. It is a subspecies of the famous Grey Wolf.
55. These wolves have larger years to help them expel the heat from the body. In case the temperature exceeds the tolerance level, they will simply burrow into the sand to get into the shade.
56. It is true that the Arabian Desert does not have any cacti species but still, you may come across some imported cacti species used especially for landscaping. One such imported species is Prickly Pear Cactus.
That’s pretty much all the Arabian Desert facts that we managed to garner from various resources. In case you think there is much to write, feel free to drop in the information through the comments section and we will add the information accordingly.