The Exploration of Dahl Luqah, Saudi Arabia

A New Report from Mahmoud Al-Shanti and the Friends of the Desert...  

Text and Photos ©2010 by Mahmoud Al-Shanti.

The author in the cave entrance.

Majed Al Otha

Haytham Al Otha



Dahl Luqah  by Mahmoud Al-Shanti u

The Dahl is Located at a distance of about 100 kilometers southwest of Rafha (on the northern border of Saudi Arabia), and approximately 13 kilometers south of the ancient village of Luqah, which local people and travellers used to visit in search of water. Luqah was also a center of trade between people in this area and traders from the north. Here can be found many old wells, some dating to the Abbasid caliphate and some all the way back to the prophet Solomon.


General Description of the Dahl:
From the surface, Dahl Luqah appears to have the form of a vertical slot with a small diameter of 120 centimeters. From this slot, visitors must climb down a metal ladder through a vertical pipe to a depth of 4 meters and then crawl horizontally through the tunnel-floor mud, where they will encounter large quantities of fallen rocks, some bags of trash, and dead sheep. Beetles abound in large numbers in this area. The length of this tunnel is 6 meters with a width of 90 centimeters and a height of 45.
After crawling through the narrow tunnel, the ceiling starts to rise to about 1.5 meters, with mud visible on the southern side floor of the tunnel of this dahl, as well as a great many rocks which have fallen on the floor.

If you continue along the tunnel for about 46 meters, you will see the effects of the water surging through it, causing erosion and leaving large quantities of limestone rocks scattered on the floor, as well as causing the disappearance of formations (stalactites) on the roof of this Dahl. Here, a small number of stalagmites may be seen in some places.

Description of Dahl Luqah from a geological perspective:
Dahl Luqah was formed in the limestone rocks of the Formation Um Erudumah (55 million years old), as a result of the ancient climate affecting these rocks through slightly acidic rainwater and flooding. In time, this water followed cracks deep beneath the surface and dissolved the limestone.

As a result of this process, Dahls appeared in the Um Arudumah formation both in the limestone beds and in layers of gypsum. Erosion, chemical weathering and water flow continued to develop the dahl into what we see today. These forces caused rocks to fall from the ceiling in great quantities and eventually reduced them to a fragile, chalky consistency.

Live animals inside the Cave
A large number of wild pigeon eggs were seen on the floor next to the cave’s vertical entrance. Wild pigeons and their nests were found in total darkness, as far as 35 meters inside the cave. In addition, there were hundreds of Beetles crawling on the floor, just as we were.