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Discover Rijal Almaa - Beautiful Heritage Village in Asir Province


Introduction Rijal Almaa

A striking testament to Arabian traditional architecture, the village of Rijal Almaa boasts its own unique beauty even among the typical Saudi traditional architecture found throughout the country. Every region may have its own specialty, but Rijal Almaa has it's own distinctive style.  

Located about 45 kilometers from Abha and close to the border of Yemen, Rijal Almaa Heritage Village sparkles like a jewel, with colorful houses set in a charming landscape. The name Rijal Almaa translates to "The Brightest Men."  

Blessed by a rich history and natural scenic locations, Rijal Almaa Heritage Village will captivate every kind of visitor. Because of the exceptional architecture, the village is on the list of potential sites awaiting UNESCO World Heritage designation.  


History of Rijal Almaa

Currently, this village is of great interest to the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities. With the help of certain private players, the commission has undertaken a rehabilitation project to preserve the area's rich history and heritage.  

The village of Rijal Almaa also has an important place in the history of the Arabian peninsula. The Asiri tribes defeated the Ottoman army in this very village. The Ottoman force numbered 50,000 strong, but the Asiri tribes forced the Ottomans to sign a treaty granting the region of Asir independence from the Ottoman Empire.  

Rijal Almaa Heritage Village also preserves the rich history of trade and commerce in the region. In tribal times, Rijal Almaa was important as a market center, attracting convoys from along the Red Sea coast.

It connected the regions of Yemen, Medina, Mecca, and the Levant. It was here that many items changed hands, including exotic spices, grains, delicate perfumes, and exquisitely crafted jewelry. It was possible to find items that had traveled from as far away as Japan and China. 


The Museum and Fortresses

Deeply steeped in tradition and culture, Rijal Almaa Heritage Village is a haven for history enthusiasts, nature lovers, and even casual tourists. There is an enormous museum within the village showcasing relics and ancient artifacts of the region's history.

To help tourists understand the artifacts better, the museum provides descriptions in both English and Arabic. The museum was founded to preserve the rich history and culture of the area. One of the forts in the village functions as the museum's headquarters, where locals see to its care. 

The village of Rijal Almaa also has 60 palaces and old fortresses. The most unique feature of the numerous palaces is that they were all built from natural materials, including stone, wood, and clay.  

Naturally, the local inhabitants take great pride in their architecture and have worked to restore the older architecture. This is especially the case with the 16 fortresses in the village restored in 2017. Both historians and visitors alike can trace the history of the forts of Rijal Almaa back for centuries.

Some of the prominent, must-see forts include the forts of Maejib and Hakim, Msamr, al-Dir'iyyahal-Dir'iyyah, al-Sisbae, Al Jaber, and Al Hawat. The forts belong to and have been passed down within the families in the region for generations.  

The beauty of the village's architecture has captured the people's interest. Rijal Almaa is the recipient of the Arab Cities "Mudon" Award.  


Locals Preserving Heritage

The locals of Rijal Almaa remain committed to preserving their culture. They not only apply that to the architecture but to themselves. It is common to find men in their traditional attire, called the "Futa" attire. It is a vibrant outfit that consists of a wraparound skirt with colorful stripes.

The villagers also proudly represent another of Saudi's traditions - that of wearing flower wreaths. The villagers craft the wreaths of delicate arrangements of flowers and herbs. Because of the colorful traditional clothing and wreaths, the men have earned the nickname "Flower Men."  


Frequently Asked Questions about Rijal Almaa

How to get to Rijal Almaa Heritage Village?  

Rijal Almaa Heritage Village is located in the Asir region, in the southwestern part of Saudi Arabia. It is about 45 kilometers or 28 miles away from the region's capital, Abha. The village is also fairly close to the coastal town of Jizan, which is about 170 kilometers away.  

To get to Rijal Almaa, you will have to book a private car from Abha. There are no public transportation options available that will take you there. You may have to book a car with a driver for an entire day if you plan on taking in all the sights of the village.  

Even though the village is only 45 kilometers away, you will have to travel by the safe road, which is considerably longer--close to 130 kilometers. If you are visiting the village, you may also try and see some of the other attractions in the Asir region.  

If your itinerary does not include Abha yet, you can get there quickly by flight. There are flights to Abha available from every major city in Saudi Arabia. There are also international flights that cater to Abha from Dubai, Cairo, and Khartoum.  


Where to stay in Rijal Almaa Heritage Village? 

Currently, tourists have no options to stay in the historical part of the Rijal Almaa village. The best way of visiting the village is to stay at Abha and take a car there for a day.  

Because Abha is the capital of the Asir region, there are plenty of options for you to stay. You can have your pick of places, depending on your itinerary and your budget.  

What cuisine to try In Rijal Almaa Heritage Village? 

 The historical part of the Rijal Almaa village has no restaurants. But you can find places to eat outside the historical part. The restaurants are primarily locally-owned and small in size. You can also choose to shop from a supermarket there. The supermarket carries souvenirs in case you wanted to take something back for your friends and family.  

Does Rijal Almaa Heritage Village have an entrance fee? 

To get into Rijal Almaa Heritage Village, you will need to pay an entrance fee. The fee is 20 SAR or approximately 5 USD.