23-Feb-2002 -- During the second week of the Ḥajj religious holiday a group of expatriates working in Riyāḍ set off on a five-day, off-road camping trip. The route entailed driving south of Riyāḍ on tar roads to Sulayyil, then heading into the Rub` al-Khāliy desert across the gravel plains of Wādiy Dawasir to the sand dunes, then north-west across sand/gravel plains, and finally north along the tar road from Laylā to Riyāḍ. The distance was made up of nearly a thousand kilometres of tar road and over six hundred kilometres of off-road driving. Having contracted the degree confluence bug, we managed to visit four Confluence sites during this journey. This was our third Confluence. See 23N 47E, 21N 46E & 22N 47E.
We reached Sulayyil in the mid afternoon and managed to refuel before prayer time, just. Laden with up to 250 litres of fuel each, we headed out in an easterly direction along a narrow tar road. This soon took us in the wrong direction so we left the tar and struck out towards the remoteness of the Rub` al-Khāliy desert. As dusk approached, we found some protection from the wind on the leeward side of a large sand dune and set up camp.
A leisurely morning start saw us speed over the flat, gravel plains of Wādiy Dawasir. This took us to the eastern side of this large wādiy (valley) where the dune lines begin in earnest. They spread out in parallel lines for hundreds of kilometres to the east and grow in height as they extend for hundreds of kilometres towards the south. We crossed a few of the smaller dune lines and during our explorations, we encountered an old abandoned Toyota Hilux in one of the sand valleys.
We camped in a depression rather than using the protection of a sand dune because the wind was stronger than the night before and a lot of the sand was airborne. The next day found us in a massive sandy plain where we could see no landmarks in any direction. It was rather like being in the middle of an ocean. It was very comforting to know that we had three GPS navigational devices amongst us, as well as a compass as a backup.
We decided to make for the degree confluence point before dusk. This we did by heading north-east for about 40 km. The landscape rapidly changed from sandy plains to stony plains. The actual Confluence was located on one of these stony plains which was similar to the earlier sandy plains where there were no landmarks to be seen anywhere. Another barren, featureless, unpopulated Confluence, I'm afraid. But, at least we now know what the area is like.