Feature: A Journey Across the Empty Quarter
In December 2015, one English and three Omani explorers set out from Salalah in Oman to recreate the first documented crossing of the Empty Quarter. The team walked in the footsteps of English explorer Bertram Thomas' epic journey of 1930–31, and were accompanied for part of the journey by the great-great-grandson of Thomas's Bedouin guide. Its mission was to raise awareness of the Outward Bound movement, with its emphasis on youth, the environment and leadership.
The team's greatest challenge in crossing the largest sea of sand in the world proved to be the fitness of their camels. Unused to the rigours of long desert journeys, today's modern ships of the desert have grown soft on milk and honey.
Unlike the former journey, undertaken in the days before satellite communications, the modern team was followed on social media around the globe. This did not make the 50-day, 1300km journey across the heart of the Arabian Peninsula any less arduous and a very weary team reached Doha in February 2016, full of admiration for the bravery and endurance of their predecessors. The expedition resulted in a book by Mark Evans called Crossing the Empty Quarter (2016).