Qasr Usaykim


This small Roman fort, built from basalt in the 3rd century over the ruins of a 1st-century Nabataean building, is between Azraq and Safawi. The small structure is worth a visit for the commanding view of the plains, framed by a basaltic Roman arch. The sealed access road to the ruins lies about 10km southwest of Safawi along Hwy 5.

For some reason, the 10km access road stops about 1km short of the hilltop fort. The graded track thereafter is just about navigable in a 2WD vehicle, but the walk is more rewarding if you want to get a sense of the utter remoteness of this former military outpost. From the junction with the main road, it is just 22km to Azraq.

The surrounding vista gives you an idea of the struggle for survival endured by the Bedouin of the Badia – the local name for the Eastern Desert that stretches into Saudi Arabia; even camels are reluctant to pick their way across this rocky, basaltic plain.

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