Mark Evans MBE to tell Perth audiences of trek across largest sand desert in the world

Mark Evans will discuss the trials and tribulations of leading the first team to recreate Bertram Thomas’ 1931 crossing of the infamous Arabian Empty Quarter, the stretch of barren desert between Oman and Qatar. Evans will be speaking for the RSGS Inspiring People talks programme (in partnership with Tiso) on Tuesday 5th December at 7:30pm in The Salutation Hotel.  

In the early 1900s, the race was on to become the first westerner to successfully cross The Arabian Empty Quarter. In February 1931, Bertram Thomas, an RSGS Livingston medallist, did just that in an impressive sixty days. 85 years later, Mark and his team set out to recreate this historic journey, taking only 49 days to cross the largest sand desert in the world from Salalah in Oman, across Saudi Arabia to Doha in Qatar.

Mark will tell audiences what it was like to take on The Empty Quarter, or Rub Al Khali, one of the hottest, driest and most inhospitable places on earth. Temperatures here can climb to a staggering 50°C+ in the summer, and it is not unusual for them to drop below 0°C at night during the winter. There’s hardly anywhere to shelter from the sun, annual rainfall is less than 30mm, there’s little vegetation, and winds laden with sand whip across the dry ground surface. It’s no wonder so few people live there and it’s been dubbed the Empty Quarter!

Speaking about his upcoming talks in Scotland, Mark said:

“I am really looking forward to delivering this talk in Scotland. Oman is a nation with strong connections to Scotland that go well beyond oil. On completing his training at Sandhurst, the current Sultan of Oman was posted to The Scottish Rifles. This stimulated a long-standing affection for Scotland that sees an Omani bagpipe band regularly provide the half time entertainment at the national football stadium, whilst sporting the Qaboos Pipers Plaid, a tartan commissioned by His Majesty. More recently, the Sultan of Oman personally funded the restoration of a series of artifacts at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Hamilton, and it’s interesting to note that around 350 Omani students study in Glasgow, the highest concentration in the UK”.

Chairman of the Perth RSGS group, John McCrone, said: “The third talk in Perth by Mark Evans will highlight past endeavour and achievement in one of the most hostile environments in the world, the Arabian Empty Quarter, and encourage us to learn and challenge ourselves in the present day. The talk will be held in the Salutation Hotel in Perth City Centre which has proved popular with members and visitors alike, giving the opportunity to have food and drink, and be inspired by some amazing speakers”

Tickets to hear Mark’s talk are available at the door or online until noon the day before, see rsgs.org/events for links. Tickets are free to RSGS members, U18s and students, £10 to visitors and £8 for Tiso Outdoor Experience Cardholders.