Al Jawf

Saudi Regions

Places to Visit in The Al Jawf Province

Saudi Regions

The crossroads of ancient caravan trade routes

Al Jawf Province is located in the north of Saudi Arabia. It is a region with a rich history that dates back to the prehistoric period. You can find countless archeological sites in this province. The geography of this region is unique and consists of wide valleys and plains of varying depths and heights. 

 

The province shares an international border with Jordan. Throughout history, this region has played an important role as the major facilitator of caravan trade. Apart from playing an active role in trade and commerce, the region is also blessed with fertility and abundant groundwater. The climate is also favorable for a variety of different crops. Popularly cultivated varieties in Al Jawf include olive oil trees as well as date palms. Around 67% of the olive oil produced in Saudi Arabia comes from here. Other fruits, vegetables, wheat, and barley are also cultivated in the province. The region is also referred to as the ‘Food Basket of the Kingdom’.

 

History

Al Jawf province may very well be the oldest inhabited place in the Arabian peninsula. Traces of ancient civilizations like the Acheulean civilization have been found all over the region. The area remained constantly populated throughout the Stone Age as well as the Copper Age. Archeologists discovered a site near Shuhitia that dates back to the ancient Stone Age. Flint tools and pottery found near the Rajajil columns indicated that the site belonged to the Copper Age. Quite recently, many sites on the edge of the Nafud desert were dated and found to have been established during the Middle Stone Age.

 

Al Jawf has held great strategic importance throughout history due to the fact that it was a key location on the ancient Incense Road. The Incense Trade Route consisted of major land and sea trading routes that established a link between the Mediterranean world and the eastern and southern sources of incense, spices, and other luxury goods. This network stretched from the Mediterranean ports across the Levant, Egypt, and Northeastern Africa and stretched towards the Arabian peninsula and onwards towards India and beyond. Assyrians held this region for quite some time until the fall of the Assyrian Kingdom. The region also saw the influence of the Babylonian Empire followed by the kingdom of Qidar. 

 

In the Islamic period, the city of Dumat al-Jandal was invaded by the Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him) in 5 Hijri. Later on, the city saw also fought battles against the armies of the Rightly Guided Caliphs. Fast forward to the modern history of the region, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia signed the Amman agreement with the Kingdom of Jordan to establish the boundaries of the region.

 

Geography

The name Al Jawf itself is a reference to the unique geography of the region. The word translates to ‘cavity’ or ‘depression’. This refers to the wide valleys and the beds of seasonal streams that are abundantly found in the region. The province also has huge plains and areas of varying altitudes. 

 

High regions in the area include various lava fields, hills, and mountains. The Great Nafud desert is also part of this region. It extends from the west of the province towards the Hail province in the east. Many valleys like the Sirhan Valley are also part of this region. You will also find Khabara (Swamps) in the area. One of the most famous ones is the Khabara Al-Amhas. Another unique geographical wonder of the area is famous for Dumat al-Jandal Lake.

The province has a rich cultural history. Important archeological sites show the influence of Qedar, the Nabataeans, and even the Romans. Settlements, tombs, pottery, tools, and architecture from the Umayyad, Abbasid, Ottoman, and various other Islamic periods can be found in the region.

 

Popular Attractions

There is no shortage of historical architectural attractions in the Al Jawf province. One of the top tourist destinations is Marid Castle. Located in the south of Dumat-al-Jandal city, the historic military castle dates back to the first century AD. It is situated on a hilltop at a height of around 600 meters above sea level. It takes roughly 30 minutes to climb the twisting, 1000 step stairway that leads to the castle. 

 

Dumat Al Jandal Lake is a natural wonder of the region. It is the only lake in Saudi Arabia and has become a popular tourist hotspot for trekking, jet skiing, and other water sports. Being situated in the middle of a desert gives this lake some unique, unmatched views.

 

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