61 Amazing Arabian Desert Facts: Could You Survive In This Desert?

Supriya Jain
Feb 29, 2024 By Supriya Jain
Originally Published on Dec 05, 2021
Edited by Lara Simpson
Fact-checked by Sudeshna Nag
Arabian Desert facts are extremely interesting for students.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 9.2 Min

Deserts have always been a fascination for many people.

Blanketing a large area under sand dunes, oases, palm trees, camels, and scorching heat, these expansive areas are always mysterious landscapes. Many people enjoy learning about deserts as must as beaches and majestic mountains.

Some travel to picturesque deserts in the world and fall for the sullen and ominous silence, cold and savage nights, adventures that they behold, and the horizon that the vast expanse of the land hides.

A barren area of a landscape marked by less precipitation, scorching heat, and less vegetation, making the lives of animals and plants hostile, is called a desert. They cover more than one-fifth of the earth’s land and are uninhabitable. There are 23 deserts in the world and the largest one in Antarctica. Yes, you heard it right!

Deserts are not just subtropical but also polar, cold winter deserts and cool-coastal deserts in the world. Antarctica and the Arctic are polar deserts, Sahara; the largest subtropical desert in the world and Arabian deserts are subtropical, Iranian and Great Basin deserts are cold winter deserts, while Atacama and Namib are cool coastal deserts.

The subtropical deserts of Arabia are no less in beauty! Have a quick glance into these ecologically diverse and beautiful deserts!

After reading facts about the Arabian Desert, also check out Arabian Sea facts and Arabian Peninsula facts.

Saudi Arabian Desert Facts

Popular works of fiction like the Arabian Nights Stories that brought us Aladdin, Alibaba, and Sinbad, captured our young minds invoking a sense of mystery and romance. They have been our childhood companions and took us to a dreamy place on a flying chariot, the place none other than the Arabian deserts.

The largest desert area of the Asian continent, the Arabian Desert, is the fourth largest desert area in the world, with an area of 900,000 sq mi (2,330,989.30 sq km). Located in the extreme southwest area, these deserts are spread around seven countries, from Yemen to the Persian Gulf and Oman to Jordan and Iraq, occupying the Arabian Peninsular region in its entirety. However, a significant chunk of the Persian Gulf lies with Saudi Arabia.

The second-largest in subtropical deserts after the Sahara desert in North Africa, the Arabian desert is an extension of the Sahara over the Peninsula. The Arabian Sea surrounds these serene open deserts, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Gulf of Oman, forming the Arabian Peninsula.

Unlike other deserts across the globe, Arabian deserts are distinct in terms of precipitation and temperature. Being a hot subtropical desert, it has a dry climate. Comparatively, the precipitation rate is higher, with about 3.94 in (100 mm) rain annually. The desert has only a few hyper-arid areas but an increased duration of sunshine and humidity.

Number Of Arabian Deserts

A marvel of gravel and gypsum plains; a crescent and linear dunes! That’s what all three Arabian deserts have in common. Despite being separated by national borders, they have a plethora of resources, flora, and fauna.

The Rub Al-Khali desert, Ad-Dahna desert, and An-Nafud desert constitute West Asia's great Arabian deserts. The Rub Al-Khali desert lies to the south of the peninsula, while the Ad-Dahna desert links the former with the An-Nafud desert.

The Rub Al-Khali desert has areas stockpiled with calcium carbonate and marl, dotted with gypsum and feldspar. The Shaybah and South Ghawar are the major oil fields in the desert. The name Rub Al-Khali means ‘An Empty Quarter.’

The central division of Arabian deserts, the Ad-Dahna desert, has bow-shaped sandy terrains, stalactites, stalagmites, crystalline structures, and limestone floors. Located in the northern part of the Arabian peninsula, the An-Nafud desert is known for its violent winds and crescent-shaped dunes.

Cool Arabian Desert Facts

Did you know that Arabian deserts have nomadic clans called Bedouins who prefer living in deserts by breeding camels, Arabian horses, and sheep? They also rely on cultivating date palms and other crops for subsistence.

They cultivate date palms since they can be cultivated in that environment. They have adapted to the harsh, dry climatic conditions of the region.

The area of the Arabian desert is four times the area of France, the largest European country. Left you gaping? Well! There are more such facts.

The desert has a few high-rise mountains like Mount Al-Nabi Shyayb, Mount Al-Sham, and Mount Al-Lawz. In 1936, oil was discovered in the region, making Saudi Arabia and other nations leading petroleum and allied products suppliers. In 1938, commercial oil production commenced here, making West Asian countries; the most prosperous petroleum hubs. The region also has rich reserves of natural gas.

Because of the geological features, the Rub Al Khali desert has orange-colored dunes due to the presence of feldspar, similar to that of the Saharan desert. The deserts of Arabia are resourceful. In the 20th century, stones, adobes, and cement were made out of calcareous rocks found in the Gulf of Persia. The saline areas produce salt and gypsum. The deserts also supply raw materials like limestone for the steel, alloy, granite, and marble industries.

Sedge grows in the deserts with deep roots to help it hold the soil.

Funny Arabian Desert Facts

Arabian deserts show off a delightful view from the air. It appears a vast expanse of sand-terrain with black lava flows, lofty mountain ranges, and reddish desert dunes up to the horizon, making occasional and exquisite appearances. Here are a few fun facts on these chromatic deserts!

Did you know that the sand dunes of Arabian deserts have a height of 820.21 ft (250m)? The Rub Al-Khali desert has around 17 species of plants that can grow on these coarse sandy dunes. The violent, stormy winds transport the sand across miles. Red dunes rarely found in the world's deserts are unique about these deserts. When all other deserts are characterized by cacti all over, Arabian deserts have the sparse presence of cacti.

The Arabian desert has the highest elevation of 12,336ft (3760.01 m) above sea level in Yemen. If you think that the deserts are devoid of flora or fauna, you are wrong. Arabian deserts are known for their rich biodiversity. The oasis with fully bloomed small flowers ornamenting the tamarisk trees and the ornamental sedges is a beautiful sight to the eyes!

They have adenium or desert roses, acacia trees, ghaf trees, orache, junipers, alfalfa, and capers to add to the rich habitat of flora. There are limestone masses, canyons, bluffs, and ridges in the mountain bases and desert basins. Arabian deserts have underground water resources, which lie unreplenished due to low rainfall.

Is it possible or even imaginable to live under the scorching sun when we often get dismayed over hot-prolonged summer days? Here is the answer!

The nomadic clans such as Bedouins have adapted to harsh climatic conditions. Being nomads, they keep traveling from one place to another, along with their herds. The herds that they take along, mostly sheep, goats, and camels, can sustain despite the unpleasant climate.

These animals find and stick to areas with vegetation, and the nomads camp there for a few days until the patch of vegetation is utilized to the maximum. They mostly survive on dry fruits, dates, wheat, barley, meat, rice, and nuts that they carry along. They also eat dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, and buttermilk. They get into their lightweight tents at night, which they carry throughout the movement. Their lifestyle helps them beat the hostile climate.

Since desert tourism is gaining momentum, there are tourists visiting deserts on camel caravans and other automobiles to travel across desert terrains.

The Arabian Deserts are rich in fauna too. The animal species here can withstand the sweltering heat of sand dunes. The locust insects enjoy a majority over others and are said to have plagued the deserts once. A hub of Dabb, a kind of lizard and monitor lizards, these deserts are home to venomous cobras and horned vipers. 

Bird species of vultures, buzzards, falcons, swallows, martins, sparrows, and doves also mark their territory here. Apart from the insects and birds, the Arabian desert is the abode of wildlife. It has honey badgers, fennecs, civets, jackals, wild cats, hares, golden sand rabbits, hyenas, desert sheep, and small rodents like mice, rats, jerboas, porcupines, and hedgehogs.

Unfortunately, several species of fauna found here are brought under the list of endangered and near-extinct species. What could be the reason for this? Inhuman activities of humans like hunting, overgrazing by livestock, human encroachment, poaching, habitat destruction, and off-road driving are the causes that bring deep imprints on wildlife.

The Arabian deserts have been evolving for the past 540 million years and grew to their current stature around 1100 years back. Have a glance at the evolution of these kaleidoscopic deserts.

The Arabian deserts consist of two major segments; the western and eastern platforms. The west platform is otherwise called the African shield, mainly composed of the Precambrian gneiss, while the eastern platform is composed of sedimentary rocks. The sedimentary layers developed around the past 540 million years. This region, which is close to the Arabian marine basins, is the wealthiest petroleum-producing region.

Around 33 million years ago, Arabia started moving upwards and separated itself from the African continent out of tectonic movements. This was followed by volcanism along these lines. By six to five million years ago, continuous rifting resulted in the formation of oceanic crusts, and ultimately, the Arabian plate collided with the Eurasian plate to form the Arabian Peninsula. The Arabian Peninsula evolved to the present-day form, with the Red Sea separating both the continents of Asia and Africa.

Now you have an answer for why orange-colored soil can be traced in the Saharan and Arabian desert Rub Al Khali.

Be it the Syrian desert, which is also called the Syrian steppe, or any other desert in Arab Asia or Saudi Arabia, and it consists of a sandy terrain desert dunes stretching entirely throughout the land. There are various types of animals and plants found in the desert. Talking about animals, the Arabian desert cat, Arabian wolf, Arabian oryx, sand cat, sand gazelle can be found.

Sand cats are small wild cats with plain yellow to greyish coats. Sand cats are found in western Asia. They are sometimes traded as imported species. Many reptiles are located along the eastern edge, the Mediterranean, and the northeast axis, such as Arabian cobra and sand cobra. They come out during freezing cold temperatures.

There are wildlife preserves with the world wildlife fund to save these natural resources. Various plant species are found, too, such as the cacti species. There is very little fertile land due to less annual rainfall in such desert regions to support many plant species. There are constant dust devils and sand storms which are enough to ruin every crop in the vicinity.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created many interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Arabian desert facts, then why not take a look at the Arabian ocean or the Arabian Gulf.

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Written by Supriya Jain

Bachelor of Commerce, Master of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

Supriya Jain picture

Supriya JainBachelor of Commerce, Master of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

As a skilled member of the Kidadl team, Shruti brings extensive experience and expertise in professional content writing. With a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from Punjab University and an MBA in Business Administration from IMT Nagpur, Shruti has worked in diverse roles such as sales intern, content writer, executive trainee, and business development consultant. Her exceptional writing skills cover a wide range of areas, including SOP, SEO, B2B/B2C, and academic content.

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