Um Sabatah

Um Sabatah is a unique coloured mountain and prior to the availability of maps, was used by Bedouin to navigate the area. The predominantly red rock has a small amount of white sandstone at its peaks. The white sandstone in the upper section of its cliff gives the appearance of top deck chocolate. Um Sabatah has an open valley to its West providing a number of sunset viewing locations. However due to the number of tourist camps in close proximity these locations have become busy particularly between spring and autumn.

As you travel south through Wadi Rum valley between the high imposing red cliffs, you will notice the valley widening. Passing the sandy valley floor, dotted with tourist camps in the shadow of the cliffs, Um Sabatah is at the southern end of the primary valley.  The mountains on the horizon will turn from red to white and you will recognise the colour of the landscape changing. This is the edge of the red desert marked by Um Sabatah.

If you look to your west from Um Sabatah you can see the impressive Al Qatar in the distance. The landscape views towards Al Qattar are some of the most photogenic in Wadi Rum. This is nicely contrasted by the white, rounded Al Waqa to its immediate south. Um Sabatah overlooks the red desert merging into white, the panoramic views offer an opportunity to see the contrast.

The north and eastern face of Um Sabatah has steep red cliffs similar to the formations to its north. The south and west of the mountain is exposed to an open plain and increased weathering, while the north and east face other significant mountains. The desert winds have caused Um Sabatah to erode disproportionately quickly on its southern and western sides. As the most southern mountain of Wadi Rum’s red cliffs its gradient steadily declines and at its southern end the cliffs are replaced with stepped rocks offering various sheltered coves and crevices. These sheltered locations in combination with the sunset views has made it a popular location to establish tourist camps. As you pass the southern end of Um Sabatah you will be notice the sand becoming deeper and be able to appreciate your guides driving skill.

The lighter sandstone was geologically formed in later post Cambrian eras and has a different composition. The lighter softer sandstone is more quickly eroded and has more flowing rounded features than the iron oxide rich red sandstone below.

Um Sabatah derives its name from a plant that grew in abundance in the area. Sabatah was sought out by Bedouin herders as it was eaten by both camel and sheep. The area has been overgrazed and climate changes have led to its demise but the name remains.

The GPS coordinates are 29.477288, 35.411432

FAST FACTS:

  1. Um Sabatah is easily recognisable for its white peaked mountain which resembles top deck chocolate
  2. Um Sabatah long recognised for its sunset views has become increasingly impacted at sunset times by mass tourism to Wadi Rum