Wadi means “valley” or “ravine”

The word wadi means “valley” or “ravine” in Arabic. Wadis are an essential feature of the Middle East, they come in all types and sizes and are dry for most of the year. When it rains, great quantities of water may rush through the wadis. Most of the year, wadis are either dry or have intermittent stream flow. They can range in size from small gullies to large, deep canyons.

Wadis are usually found in areas that have less than 250 mm of precipitation a year. The wadi floor is mostly     covered with silt and has rounded boulders.  A heavy rain often produces a flash flood in which rock debris and sediment from the wadi floor are carried along with the water. A huge amount of sediment can be moved in a short time during a flash flood.

Some wadis contain sparse vegetation along their channels.Types of vegetation there include grasses, shrubs, and several varieties of acacia trees. Seeds can be distributed by floodwaters.

Venturing into a Wadi 

Venturing into a wadi is a unique experience. It can offer respite from the scorching heat. That’s thanks to their cooling pools and streams, which accumulate after rainfall. 

However, as wadis are prone to flash floods after heavy rainfall, you shouldn’t cross flooded wadis; it can lead to vehicles being swept away.

It is recommended to always check the weather forecast and warnings before venturing into a wadi. For this reason it is also safer to camp on high ground.

Some different kinds of Wadis in the Middle East

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Having drawn explorers and adventure travellers since anyone can remember, it’s still the stuff of legends. It’s a vast sea of rust red that flows through the heart of the southern Jordan Desert. Mountains rise like cathedrals all over the place. Within, they hide secrets for any would-be explorers, from arched stone bridges to deep caves where ancient tribes once resided.

Undertaking a Wadi Rum safari is best done with help from a local Bedouin tribe. They are the people that have occupied this region for centuries, so they know its nooks and crannies. 

Wadi Al Arbeieen, Oman 

This gorgeous wadi lies in the shadow of the Eastern Hajar Mountains. There, it moves between pockets of date trees, scrub bushes and water plants. Sometimes, it emerges into emerald pools that reflect the peaks overhead. The tracks go through scrub and pebbles before opening onto a series of pools.

Wadi al-Rummah,  Saudi Arabia

The vast proportion of the country consists of the Arabian Desert. And right in the midst of that flows the great Wadi al-Rummah. It’s one of the largest wadis in the whole world, with a length of more than 600 kilometres.  

Geologists believe that al-Rummah was actually once a complete river, linking Medina to the Arabian Sea. Over years of sandstorms and erosion, the waterway was eventually split up. That resulted in three separate wadis that now cover a distance of more than 1000 kilometres.

based on articles in Travelright and Geography




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