x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

The Empty Quarter, a desert beacon

The Empty Quarter, remote and dangerous and beautiful, is still a lure to adventurers, just as Mount Everest was in the brave days of Mallory.

Asked his reasons for wanting to climb Mount Everest in 1924, George Mallory, one of the three British mountaineers to attempt the first ever ascent of the world's highest peak, famously responded "because it's there".

Mallory's died short of his goal, and Everest became a challenge for explorers from across the world.

Adrian Hayes, the Dubai-based adventurer, has often conquered whatever peaks, milestones or obstacle come his way. His decision to retrace the steps of his compatriot Wilfred Thesiger by crossing the Arabian Desert is the latest in a line adventures that have seen him, among other achievements, reach the Earth's "3 Poles" - North, South and Everest - in the shortest period of time in history.

Now the desert is calling him. The unforgiving terrain remains one of the least-travelled roads for explorers in modern times, but the 40-day, 1,500km trek is, like Everest, "there" to be conquered.

The hyper-arid Empty Quarter in the Arabian peninsula is one of the largest swathes of desert in the world and has apparently always been empty; no traces of human settlement have ever been found there.

The expedition, marking the 40th anniversary of the UAE's independence, demonstrates that the challenge of the land that fascinated Thesiger all those years ago is still a beacon to the adventurous.