Najran area

A city in The Najran Province

Places to Visit in Saudi Arabia

A city in The Najran Province

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Home to the ancient Al Ukhdood ruins

Najran is an oasis city located in the south of Saudi Arabia near the border of Yemen. It is the capital of Najran province and is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. In the earlier times, it was called Abu As-Su’ud and was just a trading area. After becoming a part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, this area was transformed into a modern city with hospitals, schools, colleges, universities, sports centers, parks, and all the necessities of life. Now the population of the city is rapidly growing and it also attracts a number of tourists due to its historic sites and variety of geographic landscapes. 

 

The central location of Najran made it the focal point of the caravan trade in frankincense and the luxury product myrrh. It connected the ancient civilization of Yemen, to the Fertile Crescent, Mediterranean, and Asian countries. Al Ukhdud (the ancient name for Najran) is often termed as one of the oldest cities in the world. The remains of this city have revealed interesting carvings and artifacts that give us an insight into the prehistoric people of the land.

 

History

Najran’s history can be traced back to over 4000 years when the Romans conquered the city. In ancient times the city was known by the name of Al Ukhdood. Najran was the center point of the Incense Trade Route. Najran was home to ancient Christian and Jewish communities. During the Islamic period, the Christians signed the Najran pact with the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) in the 7th century. With this pact, they got a protected status (dhimmi) in the new Muslim territories. Najran also used to be the Yemeni center of cloth making. The Kiswah (cloth of the Holy Ka’aba used to be made in this area known for its garment industry. Najran became part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after signing a treaty in 1924.

 

Geography and Culture

The three different geographical landscapes of Najran include the oasis region, mountains, and desert. The climate here is the quintessential desert climate of a hot and dry summer paired with a short and relatively moderate winter. The Wadi Najran is at the center of the lush green Sarawat mountains and the sandy Rub' Al-Khali. This forms a natural link from the fertile areas to the arid, sandy desert. Najran witnesses irregular rainfall but when it rains, the tributaries of the Sarawat join together to form actual flowing rivers in the valley.  

 

Najran has a unique culture that has been shaped over centuries. You can find a great influence of the Yemeni culture in the cuisine and traditions of Najran. 

 

Popular Attractions

Al Ukhdood archaeological site contains the remains of one of the oldest cities in the world. Dated back to over 2000 years, this site has also been mentioned in the Quran in the Surah Al-Burooj. Al-Ukhdood is believed to be the place where a Jewish Himyarite king burnt alive a group of devout Christians for refusing to accept Judaism. The famous site near Najran includes various artifacts and carvings that depict a horse, a camel, snakes, and a human hand. The remains of a mosque have also been found here and ongoing excavation of the site continues to discover more archeological treasures from the site. 

 

Hima Wells is another major attraction of Najran. Hima contains over 34 different sites that include inscriptions on rocks and water wells. These wells are dated to be over 3000 years old are were a core source of water for the Najran desert region. They used to serve the ancient caravan routes for trade and pilgrimage and surprisingly some of these wells even continue to provide fresh water even today. Hima has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

Najran Valley Dam is a gorgeous arch dam located about 15 km to the southwest of Najran city. It serves the important functions of water storage, groundwater recharge, and flood control. Being one of the largest dams in Saudi Arabia, it is a good spot for sightseeing. The Emarah Palace is now open to the public and also contains a museum that tells visitors about the history of the place. This palace was built in 1944 after the province became a part of the Kingdom. The site was known for an ancient well before this. With its abundant area of 625 square meters and 65 rooms, the palace not only housed the governor and his staff but also the police and postal services. Other popular attractions of the city include the Ra'um Castle and the As-Safa park.