the Degree Confluence Project

Saudi Arabia : al-Šarqiyya

83.7 km (52.0 miles) ESE of al-Khunn, al-Šarqiyya, Saudi Arabia
Approx. altitude: 141 m (462 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreeMap ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 23°S 130°W

Accuracy: 5 m (16 ft)
Quality: more pictures needed

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: X marks the spot. #3: The evidence on the old GPS from 2001 which is still in operation. #4: The Empty Quarter is not empty of dunes. #5: More dunes. #6: Dinner under the stars and moon.

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  23°N 50°E (visit #2)  

#1: The gravel plains near the confluence point.

(visited by Alistair Rausch, Alan Morrissey, Florent Egal, Thomas Fallows, Evelyne Fallows, Joerg Hoffman, Loendi Westhuizen, Claude Sgro and Karen Labuschugne)

18-Jan-2016 -- After a 12-year absence from visiting confluence points, I was passing an old conquest while on a trip to the Rub` al-Khāliy (Empty Quarter), so I thought I would drop in.

I had visited this Confluence on another trip in 2001 when still new to the vastness of the Rub` al-Khāliy. Now, 15 years later, I am still in awe of this special part of the Arabian peninsula.

This trip was to meet up with an old friend, Mark Evans, from those early days. Mark is tracing the route taken by Bertram Thomas, who was the first Western person to cross the Rub` al-Khāliy on foot in 1930. The trip is taking Mark (and his two Omani companions Amour & Muḥammad, plus 3 royal Omani camels) more than 1,200 km from Ṣalāla in Oman, through Saudi Arabia and on to Dawḥa in Qaṭar.

Leaving Riyadh at 6 am and armed with the co-ordinates of Mark's last camp, we set off to try and locate him in the middle of the largest sand desert in the world. Four hours later we topped up at the last fuel station and headed south into the depths of the desert. Around 5 pm we cut Mark's spoor and tracked him to his next camp site. It was great to see him again after so many years and to see him in such high spirits after achieving more than half his amazing quest. We spent a very pleasant evening with the party under the clear, starry sky, before retiring early.

We bid Mark farewell the following day and resumed our exploration of the desert. The undulating sand turned into medium sized dune lines harbouring treacherous patches of extremely soft sand. Some vehicles laboured and after a few hold-ups digging them out, we stopped early to camp and enjoy the Arabian night.

The next day entailed more exploration of the area - unknown rig roads, ancient lake-beds, an airstrip, a spring (gashing water from the side of a sand dune – though it was brackish and smelt sulphurous). Again, the sand was soft and hindered progress, until we came upon easier gravel plains. We sheltered amongst some dunes for the last night of our trip, enjoying the sun setting over the distant dunes.

Another early morning saw us set off for the confluence point. It was situated on sloping ground in an area of gravel plains that are punctuated with clusters of dunes. We marked the spot and continued our journey on to an old oil well, a lunch stop to refuel from our cans and re-inflate our tyres, before starting the long haul back to Riyāḍ.

 All pictures
#1: The gravel plains near the confluence point.
#2: X marks the spot.
#3: The evidence on the old GPS from 2001 which is still in operation.
#4: The Empty Quarter is not empty of dunes.
#5: More dunes.
#6: Dinner under the stars and moon.
ALL: All pictures on one page