21-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 Wādī 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 second Confluence. See 23N 47E, 21N 47E & 22N 47E.
On this part of the 600 kilometre trek from Riyāḍ to Sulayyil, the countryside was very bare of vegetation, as you would expect in a desert. However, what most people do not realize is that Saudi Arabia, like most deserts, is mainly made up of arid, rocky areas. Sure, there is sand as well – mostly, undulating sand plains punctuated with long lines of dunes. Indeed, the Rub` al-Khāliy desert (the Empty Quarter), which covers the south-eastern quarter of Saudi Arabia, is the largest sand desert in the world.
The Confluence was about fifteen kilometres away to the east of the main road. The route was made up of fields of volcanic stones, surrounded by patches of sand. While the sand was a little soft, it was less gruelling on our tyres than the sharp igneous stones. We reached the actual confluence point and tried to photograph the zero N and zero E GPS reading. This is not as easy as it sounds and the GPS reading tends to wander, even when the GPS is not moving. We finally gave up and took the group photograph instead.
After a light lunch we started on the last leg of the day's tar road journey.