Although many of the desert areas outside Riyadh are surfaced with hard rock and rubble, there are some parts both to the north east and to the west which feature the area’s famous red sands.
Here you will find a number of enthusiasts most weekends driving their 4-wheel-drive cars up and down the dunes – an experience that can be thoroughly heart-stopping and adrenalin pumping at one and the same time!
Whatever you do, don’t even think about taking your own car onto these sands unless you have been trained in sand driving and you know exactly what you are doing.
And always ensure that you have at least one other car with you when attempting to drive the sands as you can almost guarantee that at some time or another you will get stuck and will need someone to pull you out.
The first thing to be done when driving on sand is to lower your tyre pressures. (A good rule of thumb is to use a pressure of around 15psi/100kpa.) This provides a bigger footprint for the tyre and dramatically improves traction.
When cruising the bigger dunes, you should never try driving down at an angle as there is every probability that your car will roll over. Instead you face the car straight down the dune, hold on tight and experience a mixture of fear, apprehension, laughter, exhilaration and finally accomplishment.
My best piece of advice, however, is to join a four wheel drive club and to go out with other like minded individuals. One such club has been in existence for over 20 years and you should be able to get an introduction to such people through expatriate contacts, though for security reasons, they tend not to advertise their presence.
For those of a less adventurous nature, or who just want to experience the sands on an occasional foray, (or for those who love their cars too much to subject them to such conditions!) you could consider a session on a quad bike or trike.
Almost every sand dune in the vicinity of Riyadh has whole squads of quads and a one hour session will normally set you back around SR100.