The Edge of the World (its real name is Jebel Fihrayn), one of Saudi’s most popular tourist destinations, got its nickname from the uninterrupted view of the horizon it offers atop its 300-meter-high cliffs, which overlook the surrounding plain. It’s part of the much longer Tuwaiq escarpment, and drops down roughly 305 meters into an ancient ocean bed. From the top of the cliffs, you’ll spot dried rivers weaving across the land and may even see camels moving far below — an ancient caravan route once passed through these grounds.
The trip to the Edge of the World from Riyadh takes about 90 minutes by car. Hikers can choose from a range of routes to get to the top, but with rugged terrain, steep climbs and sharp rocks, good walking shoes are a must. “When we went to the Edge of the World, we stayed at a hotel in Riyadh, packed a picnic, and drove ourselves there using coordinates. We parked and hiked over, spending a few hours before going back,” says a recent visitor to the site. She adds: “You have to have a good desert 4x4 vehicle to do it on your own. Or, you can hire a tourguide.”
Due to the popularity of the Edge of the World, local authorities have paved a road that leads to the gates of the site. Through the gates you’ll find the Sha’ib Kharmah, a large valley that becomes lush and green during the rainy season (November through April) and is an ideal spot for a picnic. The valley runs west for approximately 15 kilometers until it reaches the feet of the massive cliffs that make up the Edge of the World.
The cliffs are the result of tectonic movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast caused by the spread of the Red Sea rift 1,000 kilometers to the west of the Tuwaiq escarpment. The clear cut it carved reveals the layers of sediments that accumulated there when the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula was a shallow tropical sea during the Jurassic period (150 million years ago). As you walk along the path, keep an eye out for fossils, a vestige of when the region was part of an ocean bed. As you’re capturing the views around you, take pictures of any fossils you may come upon, as you will not be allowed to take these artifacts out of the area.