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Riyadh's amazing Edge of the World
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 05 - 12 - 2014


Saudi Gazette report


AS the capital of the Kingdom, it is hard to believe that a metropolitan city like Riyadh hides behind its vast deserts, one of the most popular tourist attractions around the world.
The Edge of the World is a natural limestone escarpment in the central Najd region of Saudi Arabia. In the form of a bow, the plateau extends for about 800 km from Qassim in the north to Masharif, Wadi Al-Dawasir and the Empty Quarter farther south.
The mountain range is a part of Tuwaiq (Al-Aridh) Mountains, one of Najd's most prominent geographical landmarks.
According to Khalid Al-Rabiah, CEO of Masawife Tours, tourists find the area enchanting due to its desert character.
“Anyone who comes to Riyadh, even if it is just for a two-day business trip, should go visit the area,” Al-Rabiah told the Makkah daily.
“Surprisingly, a lot of natives are unaware of the Edge of the World. Its name is not unique as the edge of the world is what you call any cliff overlooking a steep valley,” he said. Part of the attraction of visiting the Edge of the World is the hike through the desert to reach it.
It takes about one and a half hours to reach the scenic location, which is about 90 kilometers outside Riyadh.
The last leg of the trip is very rocky terrain and there is loose gravel and some soft sand. Though some people have managed to get there by regular cars without getting stuck, it is a big risk to take.
Nearly 10 months ago, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) President Prince Sultan Bin Salman promised to open the Edge of the World and Al-Haisiyah valley to foreign tourists, diplomats and citizens of the city as a natural resort.
Al-Rabiah said he hopes the natural landscape of the area is not altered in the process of accommodating tourists.
“Qassim Oasis was untouched natural beauty until it was turned into a tourist attraction. There were lakes in the midst of the hot desert and sandy mountains and people would march through the desert for miles in search of the glistening crystal puddles,” said Al-Rabiah.
“Now, it has turned into another resort with cemented roads leading to it and there is no longer any need to discover the surrounding area.”
According to geologists, the Edge of the World was formed between 135 and 180 million years ago. The plateau slopes at two peaks — by Al-Zulfi to the north and Wadi Al-Dawasir in the south.
Geologists also say that about 130 years ago, these valleys were flooded with water and are currently filled with fossils.


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