22-Feb-2007 -- After few trips to the Empty Quarter, the biggest continuous sand desert in the world, without exploring a new Confluence, a friend and his wife asked me to set up a journey crossing the Empty Quarter and have one or two new Confluences on our way.
We left Riyāḍ early in the morning on 22 February 2007. After having entered the so called Highway 51 (it was an old rig road but is not existing anymore) and visited `Ubayla and Bi'r Fayṣal (relicts of oil activities from a couple of decades ago) and the previously visited confluence 21N 51E, we turned southeast to get towards the confluence 20N 52E.
About 20 km before reaching this point, the clutch of the Landrover finished its work. Fortunately the clutch was always engaged. The Landrover needed a push to start the engine and could run, but could neither be stopped nor slowed down, what made the driving in a sandy area with a lot of dunes and slip faces quite difficult.
In the morning of 25 February we were putting our flag on the Confluence. After a break we decided not to go to the next confluence 19N 52E due to the defective clutch. Luckily!!! Because this Confluence was already submitted in December 2006 by some guys from Oman. And secondly, and even more important, the Landrover did not like the entire trip and had decided to stop working again. The front left wheel did not turn anymore. My diagnosis after some hours of repairing was a sticky wheel bearing (was confirmed later by a workshop). Due to a lack of special tools we could not repair it.
The shortest way to ask for help was an oasis called al-Kharkhayr. We loaded all essential equipment in the other two cars and found a warm welcome in this small village. The governor and his people organized a truck to pick up the defective car and gave us a very nice place to stay, providing us with all the needs you could dream of in a rough desert.
To get the car on the truck was quite tricky because they forgot to bring hooks, shackles, ropes, or ramps. But a combined German and English engineering made it possible. To make sure that we will leave the desert well and save, we were guided back to Riyāḍ by the Border Patrol and later by the police.
It was a wonderful trip with a little bit of misfortune but fantastic experience of Saudi hospitality.