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Nafud (näfo͞odˈ) or Nefud (nĕfo͞odˈ), desert area in the northern part of the Arabian peninsula, occupying a great oval depression; 180 mi (290 km) long and 140 mi (225 km) wide. This area of red sand is surrounded by sandstone outcrops that have eroded into grotesque shapes. The Nafud is noted for its sudden violent winds, which have formed great crescent-shaped dunes, rising up to 600 ft (183 m). Rainfall occurs once or twice a year. In some lowland basins, especially those near the Hejaz Mts. (to the west), there are oases where dates, vegetables, barley, and fruits are raised. The Nafud is connected to the Rub al Khali, the great desert of S Arabia, by the Dahna, a corridor of gravel plains and sand dunes, 800 mi (1,287 km) long and 15 to 50 mi (24.1–80.5 km) wide.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also Nafud), the general name of several sandy deserts on the Arabian Peninsula, in Saudi Arabia. The most extensive of these deserts are the Great Nefud (An Nafud), Dahana (Lesser Nefud), and Nefud Dahi (Nafud ad Dahy).

The Great Nefud, a desert in the northern part of the Arabian Peninsula, has an area of approximately 70,000 sq km and elevations ranging from 600 to 1,000 m. This desert is a vast layered plain with large masses of shifting sands (relative elevation, to 100 m) alternating with sections of hammadas. There are isolated low-mountain massifs composed primarily of strongly weathered red sandstones, which results in the prevalence of reddish sands. There are numerous dry river beds (wadis). The climate is tropical and sharply continental. The average July temperature is above 30°C (maximum, to 54°C), and the average January temperature above 10°C; precipitation is approximately 100 mm per year. There are constant strong winds. The meager vegetation consists of sparse wormwood thickets, with a large number of ephemerals growing in wet years. Predatory animals include the hyena, jackal, and wildcat; ungulates include the gazelle. There are numerous rodents and lizards. Sparse oases are found along the margins of the desert.

The Dahana occupies a narrow (20–70 km) ancient drainage trough, extending 1,200 km from the Great Nefud in the north to the Rub al Khali desert in the south. Average elevation is approximately 450 m. Masses of shifting and stabilized sands are bounded by cuesta uplands. In the east there are thickets of the saxaul Haloxylon persicum.

The Nefud Dahi is a sandy desert in the center of the Arabian Peninsula. It measures approximately 500 km long and 100 km wide. There are masses of barchans.

The sparse vegetation on all of the deserts is used as seasonal pastures.


Petrov, M. P. Pustyni zemnogo shara. Leningrad, 1973.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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