Yeah you don't have to look very far to find this stuff for real. I live in the UAE so, well, let's just say that many of the thematic elements of the setting ring very true here...
I mean, games don't have to address real world issues but Dark Sun absolutely did and I think could be an excellent vehicle to do so again. I guess this is one downside of having a massive corporation holding the brand - they'll steer clear of anything that might smack of controversy. I'm not directly affected by WotC's reticence to release DS - the Dark Sun games I run and stream are all 2e - but I do love the setting and I think it would be cool if a fresh generation of gamers could enjoy it like I have. And I'm always on the hunt for new DS art and maps and whatnot haha. I know of a couple of designers who are angling to tackle the setting for 5e and I think they'd do a good job. Doesn't look likely at the moment though.
Yeah. I always thought Darksun was kinda like the Hejaz mixed with the dead quarter.
Petra had a population of around 20k iirc. Hel tge Sorcerer Kings might have a legendary effect in 5E terms that attracts what available water there is.