I was going through some old pictures from the past few years in Saudi and I ran across some from a road trip to UAE.
The drive from Riyadh to UAE used to go through Dammam (straight East to Dammam and then shoot South to get to the UAE border). But recently, they built a nice two lane road straight from Riyadh to the border. The only problem with the road is the intense shifting sands typical of the desert, but problematic when you're driving through it.
So I wasn't surprised when I saw the first major sand dune in the middle of the road:
Note the dot in the middle of the picture. That's an oncoming truck. When confronted with such a sand shift, we'd simply have to wait for any oncoming traffic and then drive around the pile of sand.
But what was interesting was the various tactics used to battle the extreme desert winds. Here is a picture of a front-loader being used to push the sand off the roadway. It really amused us as we were used to seeing such equipment employed for clearing out snow back in the US:
(Speaking of which, the parallel between sand and snow is very striking. For example, a snow blizzard and a sand storm are equally blinding. Also, the phenomenon of the shifting sands taking over the desert highways is similar to what happens in upstate NY (and other northern regions) where a strong wind following a heavy snowfall results in 'snow dunes' appearing on recently-cleared roads.)
Another fascinating approach to controlling the rolling sands was to pour tar onto the dunes, thereby solidifying them:
And of course, no road trip in KSA would be complete without the ever-present camel. Thankfully the major cross-country highways (Riyadh-Jeddah, Riyadh-Dammam) are fenced off and the once-serious concern of smacking into a camel has been eliminated. But since this road to the UAE border is fairly new and seldom used, the fences haven't been placed, thereby allowing us the pleasure of meeting Mr. Camel up-close: