Syrian Desert, Arabic Badiyat Ash Sham, arid wasteland, SW Asia, between the cultivated lands along the E Mediterranean coast and the fertile Euphrates River valley. It extends N from the Nafud Desert in Saudi Arabia and comprises W Iraq, E Jordan, and SE Syria. The famous Arabian horses are raised along the edges of the desert, which in the north is crossed by oil pipelines and by a motor route from Damascus to Baghdad. Several nomadic tribes inhabit the desert. Palmyra and other oases served as staging posts on ancient Mediterranean-Mesopotamian trade routes.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.