Ha'il

A city in The Hail Province

Places to Visit in Hail

A city in The Hail Province

City of the three castles

Ha’il, the capital and largest city of the Ha’il province is a largely agricultural city that is located in the center of the northern part of Saudi Arabia. As an oasis city with plentiful water wells, Ha’il has held great significance as a stop for ancient caravan trade routes. It also catered to pilgrims. The people of Ha’il are known for their generosity and not surprisingly it is also the home of the legendary poet and king Hatem al-Tai, the epitome of altruism and generosity. The legend of Hatem is also mentioned in the ‘Arabian Nights’. His grave is located in Towaren, Ha’il. 

 

Ha’il is known for three major castles. The A'arif Fort is a 200-year-old mud castle located on a hill that overlooks the city. It is one of the main attractions of the city and offers a great viewpoint. The Barzan Palace was a huge palace that spanned over 300,000 square meters. Its construction was started in 1808 and was completed under the reign of the second Rashidi emir, Talal ibn Abdullah. It consisted of three floors that included reception halls, gardens, kitchens, places for diplomatic guests, and the royal family. The third major ​​fort is Qishlah Fortress that is located in the center of the city, it was constructed during the 1940s when prince Abdul-Aziz bin Musa'ad Al Saud held office in Ha'il province. The mud palace consists of two floors with walls over 8.5 meters.

 

History

Archeological sites dating back to 10000 BC to 75000 BC have been found in the province. Historians believe that the region has been inhabited since at least the Paleolithic period. Sites with rock art and other artifacts from that time have been found all over the province. One of the most fascinating places is Shuwaymis. This site has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. It contains ​​petroglyphs that depict various hunting parties. Animals such as lions, horses, ibex, and camels are shown in these extraordinary carvings. Jubbah is another similar UNESCO World Heritage site that is located about 90 km north of the city of Ha’il. The carvings found on ​​Jibal Umm Sinman date back at least 10,000 years. 

 

Traditionally the economy of Ha’il relied on the caravan trade along with agriculture. It used to be a major camel caravan route for pilgrims also. After the construction of the Hejaz Railway, the economy suffered due to pilgrims opting for the more convenient railway route. Ha’il city used to be the capital of the Emirate of Jabal Shammar from 1836 until the Saudi conquest of the emirate that occurred in 1921. Numerous foreign travelers have recorded their travel experience of Ha’il city during the Rashidi period.

 

Geography

Ha’il is a largely agricultural area. It is known for the production of dates, cereal, and fruits. The city lies next to the Shammar mountains and the Nefud Al-Kebir, The Great Sand Dune Desert. These impassable mountains coupled with the equally notorious desert have helped Ha’il remain safe from foreign invasion. You can get a great view of the city from Samra mountain. The legendary Hatim al-Tai used to light a fire on top of this mountain to welcome guests. Today, it is illuminated by electric lights along with a gas-powered fire that transforms this mountain into a great spectacle at night. A beautiful park, as well as a lake, is also present at the bottom of the mountain.

 

The climate of Ha’il is the standard hot desert climate. Being at a higher altitude makes it a bit milder as compared to other regions but still, the summers are pretty intense and dry while the winters are somewhat cooler. 

 

Popular Attractions

When in Ha’il, you can visit the three famous castles of the city: The Barzan Castle, Al-Qishlah Castle, and the A'arif Fort. The biggest car rally in Saudi Arabia is held every year in Ha’il. The people of Saudi Arabia love motorsports and this is evident by the huge attendance and participation in the Ha’il rally. This event is one of the most successful events of the Kingdom and even attracts international talent. Some other famous attractions of the city include the Samra Mountain and the Al Rajhi Mosque. The exquisite Turkish-style architecture and lush interior of the Al Rajhi Mosque makes it one of the major landmarks of the city. 

 

A little distance from the city, you can find the two UNESCO World Heritage Site of Jubbah and Shuwaymis. Both these sites contain fascinating petroglyphs from the prehistoric period. The landscape of the surrounding area is also worth experiencing. The sandstone cliffs formed due to centuries of erosion offer some truly unique shapes.