The new road between Saudi and Oman has been many years in the making, in fact I first spotted the border/customs buildings being constructed back in 2017! I’ve been longing for the road to open so I can drive through the RAK, alone, safely, and so was delighted when it opened earlier this year.
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I travelled from Oman to Saudi, although if you are going just for the road and views alone, I’d recommend reversing the route. 300kms+ of the 550kms route take you through the most awesome scenery, but the 200km section from the south west corner of the UAE up to Batha are quite desolate and the surrounding desert there is mostly flat, so it would be better to get that over with first!
There are many signs along the road, including 10km reminders of how far you are from Madinah (my final destination) and Makkah (important if you are travelling to perform Umrah or Haj)
The border crossing at the Rub Al Khali port is SO quiet, and I was through in less than 30 minutes. They didn’t check my car thoroughly, though they did ask if I was carrying any alcohol, which I wasn’t as I have no desire to see the inside of a Saudi jail! The guards on both sides were friendly and spoke english; I suspect I may have been the first European woman, on her own, to go this way!
There are streetlights for the first few kilometres, as well as a fence to stop you leaving the road and bypassing the border post!
The water table in the Rub Al Khali is close to the surface and I saw many pools of water where the road constructors had dug down as little as 1 metre!
The Rub Al Khali is a rich source of oil and gas to the UAE, Oman and Saudi, and you should not take photos when passing by oil installations. There is one area on the road where there are fences on each side to stop you straying into one and you should definitely put down your camera when passing through here.
There are many monitoring cameras along the route, and I was aware of a drone high above me when I camped for the night. I’d like to think they were checking I was ok as they would have known I was on my own, and also that I must be offroad somewhere after the last camera which photographed my numberplate!
The scenery along the east-west section of the road is magnificent, and you will find yourself stopping every few kms to take a photo, so do please factor in extra time to complete your journey.
There’s a petrol station at 22.68363 53.34539, also a grocery and a coffee shop. I wasn’t too impressed with their coffee though! I didn’t need petrol but since it was there, AND it sold 95 octane, I thought it would be rude not to use it! Other petrol stations are on the Saudi side of the border post, also at Batha, plus one about 100kms on the Omani side of the border.
After the petrol station, I noticed a berm (a raised area of earth, covering possibly a pipeline or communication cables, or both) to the south of the road and this follows the road pretty much all of the way towards Batha. If you decide to go offroad to camp, only cross these at proper crossing points, of which there are not many. At the south west of the route there are many spots, accessible over easy dunes, not sabkhas, which you could take if you wanted to stay for the night, and you could go quite a few kms into the desert for peace and quiet. I do suggest keeping a minimum of 5kms from the UAE border tho.
The speed limit for the whole road is 90kph, however I seemed to be the only person adhering to this. At every rise over the dunes there is a crawler lane on the ascent, meaning you shouldn’t be faced with overtaking vehicles on the wrong side of the road! I saw less than 20 cars on the whole drive, 1 bus, and quite a few trucks, mainly Omani registered in the East, and Saudi in the west.
Our Scottish registered company, in conjunction with local partners, offers Guided Self-Drive Adventures in Oman and Saudi Arabia, check out our website www.xpeditionarabia.com for more details!
If this blog has inspired you to head to Saudi Arabia on your own, please do check out our series of downloads (see purple panel near the top of this post) on Sellfy.com!