Locals and expats both will agree with me when I say that quad biking in the desert near Riyadh is one of the most popular outdoor past times. Quads are also known as sand buggies and four-wheelers by some people and whatever you might call them don't make it any less fun and exciting to drive them. The best thing is that women can also drive these machines, even in only women groups.
The sand dunes of Thumamah, which are outside Riyadh, are the most popular spots for renting these bikes on the weekends. The sand dunes offer a stretch of land panned out over 20 km right next to the highway, with numerous renting shops for these buggies or quads. The area also comprises of tents with their own private enclosures, which are ideal for families. The desert area also offers horse and camel riding amongst other activities which the whole family can enjoy.
The rental shop people are also especially very helpful in providing you with the best bikes and even demonstrating how they work. In the case of all women groups, the rental store staff also accompanies the group for a little while, in case some of them get stuck. If you plan on driving out to Thumamah, go towards the Janadriyah Festival Area, and pass the King’s Farm. You should continue down the road till you can easily spot the sand dunes. The rental shops can also be seen due to the rows of bikes that are parked there.
The better spots are further down, as you keep driving down the road. When you pick out a spot, just make a left turn and park near the rental shop of your choosing. It is a good idea to check many shops, to compare the prices and the quality of the bikes. Weekdays are usually empty and quiet, while on the weekend you should expect to find a huge crowd there.
The rental prices vary according to the bike size and start from SAR 100 and go up to SAR300 for the whole hour. Automatic as well as manual bikes are available to fit every individual’s preference. Bikes are also available for children. Women can be without their Abaya out in the desert, as it is essential that the extra cloth of the Abaya doesn’t get tangled up in the engine or the wheels. There have been instances of Abayas getting stuck and it is not just a theory. If you insist on keeping the Abaya on, make sure the excess cloth has no chance of getting tangled or even burned by the engine.
The Thumamah area, and all its beauty has been marred by excessive trash which is left over by the huge crowds that make their way over to the destination on weekends. It is advised to watch out for the trash, and if possible pick up the trash, rather than contributing your own into it.