The Arabian Desert is one of the world's largest deserts, covering the majority of the Arabian Peninsula. Most of the desert lies in Saudi Arabia, but it also reaches into Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen. A large portion of the desert is covered in sand, making it one of the most inhospitable climates on the planet. The desert contains many dangers, and travellers should prepare ahead.
The Arabian Desert is very hot and arid. In the summer, temperatures can average 48.9 degrees C or more. The heat is especially dangerous because of the lack of shelter, and additional heat is created from sunlight reflecting from the sand. The temperature of desert sand typically is -1.11 to 4.44 degrees C higher than the air, making direct contact painfully hot. The intense heat can cause heat cramps, exhaustion and stroke, which could lead to unconsciousness or even death. Furthermore, such extreme levels of heat can cause radios and other sensitive equipment to malfunction, causing even more problems for the unprepared traveller.
Although the Arabian Desert is one of the most arid areas in the world, unsuspecting travellers can fall victim to flash floods. The lower areas of the desert's mountainous regions are home to wadis, dry stream beds that fill up quickly and without warning when sudden downpours strike the mountains.
The northern Arabian Desert extends deeply into Iraq, a country that, as of 2010, is plagued with war and internal conflicts. The United States Department of State warns that Iraq is dangerous and unpredictable and foreign nationals in Iraq should travel with a security detail at all times. Kidnappings and attacks could occur, and minefields are still present along the international borders that lie deep in the Arabian Desert.
Animals, Arachnids and Insects
The desert is home to a range of wildlife, some of which is dangerous--and even deadly--to travellers. Anopheles mosquitoes in the region have been known to transmit malaria. The largest venomous snake in the Middle East, the Arabian cobra, can reach up to 6 feet long and is indigenous to the Arabian Desert. The desert also is home to a variety of spiders and scorpions, some of which are poisonous.