Life in the depths of the desert
Brown-necked ravens (Corvus ruficollis) patrol the desert singly, in pairs, or after breeding in roving flocks. They may be the only species of bird encountered in really remote areas, and, not surprisingly, have earned themselves the alternative name of desert raven. They can be encountered even in the depths of the waterless Empty Quarter or Rub' al Khali, but range widely in search of food. Desert encampments prove an irresistible attraction and inquisitive ravens will come close to investigate, only shying away if humans are present. Camp sites, they have learnt, often provide them with a welcome discarded bone or remains of a meal in their otherwise barren surroundings. The world range of the brown-necked raven extends from North Africa, across the Arabian peninsula to the steppes of south-west central Asia.
Oilfield employees working on rotation in the depths of the desert often
have the daylight hours in which to entertain themselves and golf is one
such pursuit. 'Brown' courses with not a blade of grass are found in many
parts of Abu Dhabi but none can be more incongruous than the setting for
the Shah Golf Club, located on the northern flank of the Empty Quarter.
Formidable sand dunes over 100 metres high and water hazards of hypersaline
groundwater both come into play, while temperatures over 50 degrees Celsius
and regular sandstorms are further occupational hazards, making the course
one of the most testing anywhere in the world.