It just happened so that out of my many life endeavors, people are repeatedly asking only one thing from me: how to safely pass on a vehicle through Oman's part of the Empty Quarter and Umm As Samim. So, below are the answers to that and few related ones.
- Is it passable at all?
- Can we go through on a sedan?
- Will we see any traffic to help us, just in case?
- Which car should I rent?
- How many cars should we have?
- How much food and water we should take?
- Can I die there?
- This whole Empty Quarter thing looks a bit tough. Are there any other options to go into the sands?
Yes, it is, by a couple of roads. See below the link to kmz file (could be opened in Google Earth) with all the gas stations around. Those stations, except for Adam, are not very much reliable: they might not carry the required fuel grade, or even be closed for plenty of reasons. So, at least a couple of jerry cans is a must.
Yes, it's passable on a sedan (the smaller loop only, Adam-Fahud-Al Maha). But it's no fun, as you cannot drive a bit from the road. And for the camping sure you will want to reach those dunes, which could be a mere 300-500 m drive, but for SUV only.
For the passing-by cars, indeed, if you are close to the oil rigs area, you'll see some traffic (that is to the West from Al Maha station, the lower right corner of the small loop). In other areas maybe yes, maybe no. Last time I haven't seen a car in 3 days (on the big loop).
For the rents the company really doesn't matter - they all about the same USD 100 per day (for an SUV). For the trip Prado, Landcruiser, Patrol, Pathfinder, Pajero are all fine. Manual/automatic is not a concern. Bad thing - the rentals are not equipped. You'll have to buy extraction equipment here or bring with you. The level of equipment is very dependent on how much are you into sands. For the outskirts you don't even need to deflate tyres, and the pumps are available at the gas stations. But there are also some good soft sands impassable even on lifted Wranglers. Good thing - local rental companies naturally don't mindthat you will take SUV off-road, so whatever happens - you just pay RO 100-150 deductible.
At least two, keeping in mind that the remaining vehicles should be able to carry all people in the party (bad news for Wrangler owners). If you really want to go in a single car, you better have a satellite phone and a reliable back-up person, who could arrange for a help.
I'm no advice on food, as it depends on the person. The recommended amount of water to carry is 6L per person per day, which will be used for showering also. You can easily get it at any convenience store in boxes of a dozen 1.5L bottles
Sure, you can, and it happens regularly. Recently we had bad accident with a rally driver dying of dehydration in UAE, and it was a third fatality in EQ, in less than a week.
If you say so, I would highly suggest that you go to Wahiba (Sharkiya) sands instead. All tour companies have tours there, there are very nice resthouses to give you a feeling of the desert. Or, you could find easily just a local bedu guy who will give you a ride in the dunes for some fee. And these sands are so well inhabited, so it is practically impossible to die there unless you are committing a suicide.
Below is myself deflating tyres in EQ before going into gypsum/sand mixture. Click on the picture to get to the set of photos from EQ, and have safe travel.