RDS_190406 Weather UAE 2
Screengrab of drone footage of a Saudi desert Image Credit: Twitter/@weathernetwork

Abu Dhabi: Some 142 people went missing across Saudi Arabia’s vast deserts last year, sources in the Ingad search and rescue team said.

“Of these, 28 died of hunger and thirst, 100 were rescued and 14 were still missing,” a source of the search and rescue team added.

A total of 13,254 vehicles were reported stuck in the desert, the source said.

The source added that the team was armed with many capabilities, including 767 mountain climbers, 177 camera planes, 81 gliders, 1,150 winches, 2,732 long ropes, 270 satellite phones, and 3,772 four-wheel drive vehicles, while the number of trackers reached 1,118 and 182 coaches.

The source warned that anyone trekking into the desert unprepared risked getting into difficulties.

“The simple rule is: always take a backup, a four-wheel drive car, because taking normal road cars to the desert never ends well. Tyres need to be deflated before driving on the sand dunes, and campers should carry shovels and air compressors to reflate tyres in the event of punctures. Always take a jerrycan of fuel, tent used in the desert is also important. Have a good supply of water, a first aid kit to deal with burns and insect bites as well as good quality sleeping bags,” the source advised.

The team advised travellers on the various routes to inform their relatives where they were going to determine their location in the event of lost contact, They also advised to accompany an expert in desert and mountainous places.

“Everyone who got lost in the desert should avoid walking for a long time on foot, and if they had to, they should walk during the night to avoid the sun heat and the scorching heat of the sand. They should try to find any tree to shade under it or stay in the car, set fire at night and not exhaust themselves as much as possible until Rescue teams come.”

More than half the area of Saudi Arabia is desert.

The country has three major deserts: Rub’ al Khali (The Empty Quarter) which is one of the largest sand deserts in the world. Partially unexplored, Rub’ al Khali has an estimated area of about 650,000 sq km with lesser portions in Yemen, Oman, and the UAE.

An Nafud or the Great Nafud is an upland desert of red sands in the northern part of Arabian Peninsula, covering an area of 64,000 sq km.

Ad Dahna’ is a narrow strip of sandy terrain. This reddish sandy desert is in central Saudi Arabia, extending about 1,300km southward from the northeastern edge of An Nafud to the northwestern borders of Rub’ al Khali. Thus, Ad-Dahna’ links the great deserts of Saudi Arabia.