The world’s tallest dune is a magnificent sight. Standing tall at 455 meters, it pierces the barren landscape like a surgeons scalpel, but without the precision. Its meandering arms radiate, twist and bend in an attempt to dissuade you from clamoring to the peak. However, the luscious red sand seduces you into thinking it’s possible.
After a more than a 900 kilometer journey into Oman’s Rub’ al Khali (Empty Quarter), I stand at the foot of a behemoth, the king of all giants, the grand daddy of them all; the world’s tallest dune.
At this point my trip is complete, I’ve reached the pile of sand, logged its location, and I can go no further. Yemen is to my east, 12 kilometers away, and Saudi Arabia is to my north, 36 kilometers across the dense star dunes. However, standing to my right is Fahad Alabri, and his mission just started.
Handstanding Atop the World’s Tallest Dune
In this episode of the Sultanate I team up with Fahad Alabri to locate, record, climb, and handstand the biggest, baddest dune of them all.
Fahad is a local personal trainer who is on a mission, across the world, to use the act of handstand to break through cultural barriers while promoting health, fitness, and wellbeing. On his Instagram page, Fahad is seen upside-down all over Oman and beyond in places like Milan, London, Spain, and Zanzibar.
Regarding this trip, “I really have not much of an experience to balance my hands in a sandy desert ground, but I’m going to figure it out,” he says. “It’s about the connection with the hands and the ground so I just have to manipulate my hands toward it, and then I am gunna go to the inversion.”
Tune in to find out if Fahad can overcome wind and sand to handstand atop the world’s tallest dune.
Reaching the World’s Tallest Dune
Located in Ramlat Jadilah, this dune is both easy and hard to reach. The easy part being that there is very little sand driving to do, thanks to the dirt tracks the government constructed for the army border patrol and local village of Miton. The challenge being it’s bloody far away and takes a bit of planning to reach.
From Muscat you’d be lucky to reach the dune in one full day. I recommend splitting the journey up somehow because it’s more than 10 hours of driving.
From Salalah it can be a really long day trip if don’t mind a bit of night driving in the morning or evening. Still, it’s better to camp overnight at the dune.
The best access is from the wild border town of Mazyunah, then turning north towards the camel town of Miton, before ending in Ramlat Jadilah. Needless to say this area is under heavy army presence, and access is subject to their control.
Our visit yielded no interaction with any checkpoint or patrol, we just followed the advice of all signs to: “stay on the track,” “do not go left of the track” (when driving north), and eventually “do not go beyond this point”. All signs are solely in Arabic, so if you don’t understand the language, I recommend keeping an offline capable translator and Arabic keyboard installed on your phone. I’ve heard of army patrols doing all sorts of things like; stopping people and turning them back, requiring multiple vehicles in the group, and checking if you have GPS. Be prepared for anything.
- Fahad’s Instagram @cavemangram
- “Voices of Arabia” by Dr. Eid al Yahya
- D’s Top 13 Sand Driving Tips
- Sultanate Ep 004: Rub’ al Khali
Follow the show and find more about Oman at:
World’s Tallest Dune Map
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