Utne Blogs > Arts and Culture

Snapshots from a Sea of Sand

by Ben Lurie 


Tags: Arts, Empty Quarter, aerial photography, sand dunes, motorized paraglider, desert geography, desert life, Saudi Aramco World,

Empty Quarter Steinmetz1Drifting above Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter in a motorized paraglider, photographer George Steinmetz has captured a series of extraordinary images of severe beauty from the hottest desert on Earth.

 Empty Quarter Steinmetz2Centuries ago, trade routes bringing frankincense from the southern Arabian Peninsula passed through the Empty Quarter, but now most of the towns that supported the route are in ruins.  Steinmetz’s photos show those remnants as well as the scattered farms, towns, and oil refineries that are the modern equivalent, drawing outsiders into the sands in search of wealth.  From the herds and homes of the Bedouin who still follow their traditional ways of life to the rippling dunes and barren salt flats that have held their shape for hundreds of years, Steinmetz's photos are stunning.

Source: Saudi Aramco World

Images courtesy George Steinmetz.