Lakes Appear in Empty Quarter Desert Where Many Secrets, Resources Remain Buried Under the Sands

Last year oil giant Saudi Aramco announced it is using new technology to re-explore the Empty Quarter, which could help to bolster its proven reserves of oil and gas before the company offers its shares to the public.

Jun 2, 2018 (DESPARDES/PKONWEB) — CYCLONE Mekunu has turned parts of the arid Rub’ Al-Khali desert, also known as the Empty Quarter, into freshwater lakes, in a rare phenomenon that has not happened in nearly 30 years.

Rainwater fell and gathered in different parts of the desert, such as Al-Khareer, Thabltoun and Um Al-Malh, which are known among visitors of the Empty Quarter, located in the triangle at the border with Yemen and Oman covering a total area of 600,000 square kilometers.

Footage of the rains that were shared by Twitter users showed the arid desert full of rainwater, seemingly like a “floating sea.” Some users poked fun at the pictures saying with all this water in the Empty Quarter presumably no longer empty.

Ali Al- Hatish, a regular visitor of the desert, told that the rainfall over the region was too heavy, adding that he has not witnessed a weather condition of this sort in two decades.

“The people of the Empty Quarter sensed a good vibe when the rainfall happened. Camels began moving toward the areas filled with waters,” Al-Hatish added.

“The land will need 30 days to sprout their summer plants and people expect to feed their camels on them for the coming two years.”

Residents of the Empty Quarter rely heavily on camels, and such historic rains are of great importance to those camel owners, and its prices change as well as a result of the summer desert plants.

The region is also expected to receive more visitors who would be interested to take shots of the water covering the desert, a scene that rarely occurs.

Rub’ Al-Khali desert is the world’s largest sand desert. It is the world’s largest area of continuous sand, covering about a quarter of the Kingdom’s land surface.

The basin lying mainly in southeastern Saudi Arabia is where the wind plays a major role in forming and shaping its dunes. The sandy elevations could match the mountains in their high altitude, some of which may reach more than 450 meters.

A number of archaeologists believed that the ancient civilization of Ād described by the Qur’an as “Erum of the Pillars, the like of which was never created on the land”, is buried under the sands of this desert, but it has not been discovered as yet.

Geologist Hamoud Al-Shanti said that what makes the Rub Al-Khali so unique is not solely its aesthetic forms in the sand dunes but the presence of groundwater.

He told that Rub Al-Khali encompasses a lot of wealth, most notably petrol, gas and groundwater.

Last year oil giant Saudi Aramco announced it is using new technology to re-explore the Empty Quarter, which could help to bolster its proven reserves of oil and gas before the company offers its shares to the public.

A team of about 900 people is using advanced seismic technology developed over the last few years to explore 15,400 square kilometers (5,950 square miles) around Turayqa in the vast Empty Quarter.

The Empty Quarter also comprises deep spring water which is over 5,000 to 10,000 years old, called the non-renewable groundwater or deep water, said geological expert Dr. Abdullah Al-Amri.

He pointed out that exploratory studies in Rub Al-Khali proved that the desert has immense water resources, but a large proportion of existing water contains a high amount of sulfur.

In the past, it was believed that the Rub Al-Khali is a running river, which was the common idea. Geophysical studies have revealed deep waterways, some of them still exist to this day while others perished, Al-Amri said.

Some of the sites are rich in water, while others contain formations and layers of oil and gas. The water in Rub Al-Khali was mostly formed during the ice age that covered the whole world 10,000 years ago and which is now lying at the bottom of the sand dunes, Al-Amri said.

Despite the harshness of the natural environment and the lack of human activity in the empty quarter, it is rich in oil, natural gas, radioactive metals, glass sand and solar energy. The experimental wells drilled in the east and southeast of the desert of the Empty Quarter shows that the water is abundant in the Eocene limestone formations, which are similar to the water-bearing layers as in Al-Ahsa.

Plans also include solar power fields in the Empty Quarter to produce 50 gigawatts of electricity. There would be huge plants set up for manufacturing heavy and light vehicles, intermediate and high-speed ships, trucks and solar panels. The study has proposed the establishment of two airports, according to Esmat Al-Hakeem of Saudi Council of Engineers, the local daily Arab News had reported last year as part of its story on building a canal linking the Arabian Gulf with the Arabian Sea to bypass the Hormuz Strai– the canal idea has been shelved it said.

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