General Information

“About Madain Saleh”


Al Hijr or Madain Saleh is located 22 kilometers to the north-east of Al Ula municipality of Al Madina Al Munawarrah province in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at latitude 4726 north and longitude 5337 east, and it was called Al Hijr since the ancient times.It occupies a strategic position on the ancient trade route that links the southern Arabia, Mesopotamia, Levant, and Egypt.

The ancient trade rout in Al Hijr that emanates in the south of Arabian Peninsula divides into two branches, one heading to the north passing through Tabuk ends in Petra in Jordan, which was the political capital of Nabataea, while the second branch heads towards Mesopotamia through Tayma in the north of Arabia. This important strategic location has made Madain Saleh an important trading city of Nabataea and a significant economic destination for the trade caravans.

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Nabataeans built Al Hijr:

Researchers believe that the Nabataeans were the first inhabitants who settled in Al Hijr, “Madain Saleh,” and hence were the original builders of it.  Researchers also believe that the Nabataeans had originated from the Arabian Peninsula. Historian Dedor Al Saqali states that, the Nabataeans were a nomadic shepherd tribe, who did not know the art of Agriculture. The people had no sedentary life nor did they drink alcohol and that their land was mostly rocky and rugged, unfit for a sedentary life.

It is known that the Nabataeans had founded a large kingdom extending from their capital Petra (Sila) in the north, to Madain Saleh in the south. The oldest evidence of the existence of Nabataeans dates back to the ninth century BC. When they decided to take control of the ancient trade route, they founded their trading capital “Al Hijr”.

According to Nabataeans inscriptions found in the Madain Saleh, we can determine the age of the Kingdom. Alluding to the inscriptions Madain Saleh emerged in the beginning of the first century BC, and faded out in the mid-second century AD.

Nabataeans had faced many economic and political challenges, particularly with the Roman Empire. But the major and fateful challenge that was faced by Nabataea state and which has gradually isolated it and finally led to its downfall and decay was the radical shift that has been made in ancient trading routes following the discovery of the seasonal trade winds in the first century BC, according to which neighboring countries and owners of commercial caravans decided to transport their goods through the Red Sea. The-then new shift made Al Hijr vulnerable as it was largely relying on the passage of convoys through its territories and imposed transit tax on them for its glorified sustenance.

While trading convoys were passing through the ancient city of Al Hijr, vibrant landscape and golden hills on the far-left were representing one of the most wonderful scenes in the Arabian Peninsula.

From the available inscriptions the Nabataeans language resembles the late Aramaic, which was greatly influenced by Arabic language. 700 years before the birth of Prophet Muhammad (Blessings and peace be upon him), the Kingdom of Nabataea was extending from Damascus to the Red Sea. But in 63 AD it was annexed by Rome. In 106 AD the Emperor Trojan transformed it into Roman province with the rest of the Arabian Peninsula.

The success of Nabataeans was due largely to the presence of best architects and engineers of the ancient world with them. They were able to overcome the of water sources in the region through a network of pits and canals to harness and store water, some of which are still in use.

The remains of Madain Saleh show the remarkable work of its engineers. More than 131 big tombs were found carved out of huge sandstone mounds, standing singly amidst a world of wavy sands, but some of these are in a state of decomposition. When you arrive at this archeological city, to the west of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, between Tabuk and Al Madina, around afternoon, you will see the scene of the golden hill behind it, far away is laid the Harat Awaired with its volcanic land.  It is one of the most stunning scenes in the Arabian Peninsula. The names engraved on the landmarks belong to the local Bedouins tribes.

Most tourists in the site, go around clockwise, they encounter the first tomb when entering the site is Al Sane tomb:

Al Sane tomb:  It represents an introduction to the key elements of the style of the Nabatean’s tombs.  It has a great interface, with five figures of components, and the inscriptions at the top of the door and the niches into which the dead bodies were placed.

Al Kheremat: It is next location with twenty shrines in good condition.  It is one of the best preserved tombs in the Madain Saleh. There are many symbols that appear to be linked to generations of the cultural imagery borrowed from the Egyptians and Ethiopians. Statuettes of winged lions with human heads and forms of flowers painted on a bowl used in rituals associated with funerals testify to this. Al Kheremat houses were built of mud as well as they contained water well.

Qusr Al Sani:  Qusr Al Sani formed of its great front and two shapes comprising five steps and inscriptions on the top of its gate, it is some sort of a tomb however it is not so much an exciting place but it forms an indication to key elements of Nabataea grave style.

Al Kheremat, part of Qusr Al Sani comprised several holes into which corpses were laid, and sacrifices offered. There are twenty graves in good condition, but in fact most of the graves are in good situation in Madain Saleh.

The site includes inscriptions indicating several generations of culture derived from Kush and Egypt ancient civilizations. The inscriptions illustrate several shapes including a lion body with wings and human heads in addition to shapes that look like roses drawn on a bowl perhaps used in funeral ceremonies. Al Kheremat also includes a number of houses built of mud in addition to Nabatean water well.

Al Jabal Ithlib:

The Ithlib stands lofty on the north-eastern horizon. It is surrounded by vast space. Just as in Petra in Jordan, this area has a narrow ally called “Al Seeq”. A large open hall was craved inside the rock which is called the Divan that is surrounded by two columns and some stone terraces in the internal three walls.

According to the explorer Charles Doughty (1888 AD), there was a threshold in the palace that has fallen down with the extension of the ceiling.“ also this room is pleasant and cool, because the north facing façades allow no direct sun rays to fall into them, and the cool air always fills the space and there is a deep sense of peace and calm in the tomb which makes it gravely solemn.” He said.  Climbing on Jabal Ithlib allows a stunning view of Madain Saleh.

Qusr Al Bint (Al Bint Palace):

Outside Qusr Al Bint there are painted whales in triangular forms, representing as tomb’s guard. It is a significant example of the influence of Greek art on the Nabataeans. The construction of the tomb is halted midway, which helps us to identify the techniques of tomb’s construction.  The construction starts from the top going to the bottom. Flowers on its entrance and the other ones depict decorated plates used in religious ceremonies, indicating that these buildings contained graves.

Al Qusr Al Fareed: 

Al Qusr Al Fareed is one of the most famed Nabatean tombs in Al Hijr and most beautiful. It is featured with a very large façade facing to the north. It is called Al Fareed, because it is standing alone on an independent mass of rock, also because of the difference of its large façade compared to other tombs in Madain Saleh for accuracy sculpture and beauty. Despite this, the overall sculpture is incomplete. The palace was built for someone called Hayan bin Koza.

It is worth mentioning that eating, drinking and sleeping is forbidden in Madain Saleh. The restored Al Hijaz Railway station building is just 6 kilometers north of the site. Click here to show map

General Information:

Al Hijr or Madain Saleh is an ancient pre-Islamic archeological site in Saudi Arabia. It was the land of Thamud in the Wadi Al Qura, “Valley of Villages”, lying between Madina and Tabuk. Al Hijr is also known as Madain Saleh, the Saleh’s village.  The site was mentioned in Torah (the old statement) of the Holy Bible, and the Holy Quran with reference to Prophet Saleh (PBUH). The Holy Quran stated that, the people of Thamud had met their doom because they refused the call of Prophet Saleh to obey God’s Will after they slaughtered the she-camel that was sent to them as a divine sign from God. [/expand]

Archeologists Views:

According to archeologists, Al Hijr was inhabited by Maeneans and Thamudians in the third millennium BC. Prior to them the place was occupied by the Lihyanite in the 9th century BC.  Nabataeans invaded the state and subdued the Lihyanite, and used stone structure as their houses, temples and tombs. According to the found inscriptions, Nabataeans were the real builders of Al Hijr. Al Hijr contains a great deal of Maeneans and Lihyanites inscriptions that refer to Al Ula, Khoraiba and Hiania, as the oldest towns, dating back to around 1700 BC. Some of these places were destroyed by earthquakes according to the established literature. As for Al Hijr city’s antiquities, they belong to Maeneans and the early Thamud traders, who had moved into it from the south of Arabian Peninsula.

In 2008, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee (WHC) agreed on Madain Saleh site to join the World Heritage List. Thus, the site has become the first archeological site in Saudi Arabia to be enlisted by the WHC of the UNESCO.

Abdul Raouf Khalil Museum of Jeddah

Abdul Raouf Khalil Museum of Jeddah

Al -Tayibat City Museum for international civilization Devoted By late Sheikh Abdul Rauf Khalil.

This Museum is 300 years old but appears to be modish and state-of-the- Art till today.

I can say late Sheikh has presented a masterpiece to the country which is a gem in the Tourism Map of Saudi Arabia.

The Abdul Raouf Khalil Museum consists of the main buildings, the mosque, the facade of the castle, the home of the Saudi Arabian heritage, the home of the Islamic heritage, the home of the World Heritage, exhibit heritage overall. The The museum not only presents the rich Islamic cultural heritage of the city but also its preilamic history that goes back to 2500 years; it traces the various civilizations that inhabited the region. Located in the downtown district, the Abdul Raouf Khalil’s Museum in Jeddah boasts of large collection of items and artifacts belonging to the Ottoman Turks and the fishermen tribes who were the first inhabitants of the region.

Uruq Bani Ma’arid Reserve protected Area of Wild Life

Uruq Bani Ma‘arid (12787 square kilometers) is situated along the western edge of Ar-Rub‘ al-Khali, the Empty Quarter, which is widely considered the largest sand desert on Earth. With the world’s largest longitudinal sand dunes, overlying a dissected limestone plateau, and the southern end of the Tuwayq Escarpment, this protected area contains greater biological diversity than any other part of the Empty Quarter, with vegetated wadis, gravel plains, and inter-dune corridors. It is the last place that the Arabian Oryx is reliably reported to have been observed in the wild,* and is now the focus of an intensive and successful reintroduction program for Arabian Oryx, reem Gazelle, and Idmi Gazelle. Ostrich eggshells are found in abundance in the area, and reintroduction of the ostrich is under consideration. Management objectives for this protected area are to maintain the ecosystem without degradation of its biological diversity and productivity; to conserve and restore the populations of threatened species and other key taxa, including Arabian Oryx, reem gazelle and idmi gazelle; to safeguard the site’s natural processes and the ecosystem services they generate, to enable the local communities to benefit through sustainable use of renewable natural resources, and to provide opportunities for scientific research, environmental education, sustainable nature based recreation and ecotourism.

Saudi Arabia Global Status Today

HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman said:
“Saudi Arabia is not New to History and its Global Status Today is an Extension of its Ancient Cultural Heritage”

Saudi Arabia Global Status Today

  • Archaeological discoveries so far have shown that the beginning of human settlement in the land of Saudi Arabia belongs to the Paleolithic Period, 1.2 million years ago.
  • A 90-thousand-year-old human bone was found along with a 500-thousand-year-old elephant tusk.
  • Saudi Arabia is an open Islamic museum.
  • Saudi Arabia is home to 10 million foreigners from 150 countries around the world.

HRH Prince Sultan Bin Salman, SCTH President, emphasized that Saudi Arabia is not new to history, and the status that the Kingdom holds today, religiously, politically, economically, and culturally is but an extension to its ancient cultural heritage. The great religion of Islam that emerged from this land spread to the rest of the world from the land rich in history, culture and economy.

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Yanbu -The City of Springs

THE Red Sea coastal city of Yanbu is known for its exceptionally tranquil atmosphere, lofty mountains and sandy beaches. Its state-of-the-art petrochemical plants and towering oil refineries that glitter all night will impress visitors.

A peaceful modern city with enchanting gardens, Yanbu has advanced road systems and public utilities. No one would believe that this massive industrial city had once witnessed bloody events that lie buried under the pillars and pipelines of today.

“The conflicts and battles for power continued for a long time until the arrival of the Saudis who put an end to those skirmishes and steered the region to progress and prosperity,” said a historian, who requested anonymity.

Yanbu has history that dates back to 2,500 years when it was a staging point on the caravan route from Yemen to Egypt, Syria and the Mediterranean. Since time immemorial, its port catered to the needs of ships that sailed through the Red Sea.

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However, Yanbu’s population did not cross 7,000 by the turn of 20th century. Despite its small size, the city today enjoys the prime of place in the world of petrochemicals.

In the early years of Islam, a number of battles have taken place in and around Yanbu. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) led the Muslim army against the Quraish in Bawat, Asheera (now part of Yanbu Al-Nakhl) and Ais to fortify the budding Islamic state’s security.

Yanbu got its name from the presence of more than 100 springs that originate from the city. According to historian Sharief Salma Bin Ayash Yanbu’e, there were 170 springs in the area. Yanbu Al-Nakhl and Yanbu Al-Bahr are located close to one another and are considered parts of a single city.

The two Yanbus have received special care and support from Sultans and governors who ruled the area in the past. Foreign forces tried to occupy this place considering its strategic location. A number of incidents have occurred in Yanbu Al-Nakhl in the early years of Islam.

During the Abbasid period, the Hejaz, of which Yanbu is a part, witnessed a number of bloody incidents following the revolt of Mohammed Bin Abdullah, a grandson of Hasan Al-Muthanna Bin Hasan Bin Ali Bin Abu Talib, who was born in Madinah and nicknamed Arqat, Mahdi and Al-Nafs Al-Zakiyya.

Mohammed Bin Abdullah revolted against the oppressive rule of the Abbasid Caliph Abu Jaafar Al-Mansour with the backing his friends and supporters in Madinah.

During the time of Ayyubis, Yanbu Al-Bahr became a flashpoint along with Yanbu Al-Nakhl. The Ayyubis installed the administrators of Makkah at a function at the village of Alqamiya in Yanbu in 597 AH under the leadership of Al-Sharief Qatada Bin Idris (nicknamed Abu Aziz Al-Yanbu’e Al-Makki) whose lineage goes back to Hasan Bin Ali Bin Abu Talib.

During the Mameluke era, an intense fight took place for the capture of Makkah. The conflict reached its peak in 792 AH when Al-Sharief Anan went to the Mameluke Sultan in Egypt and returned to Hejaz with a Turkish representative to end the conflict. On their way to Makkah they met with the ruler of Yanbu who encouraged Al-Sharief Anan to kill Bani Ibrahim, the then rulers of Makkah, and provided them with men and weapons. Following the battle, Al-Sharief became the ruler of Makkah with the support of the people of Yanbu.

During the Ottoman era, Yanbu witnessed the removal and coronation of new governors of Makkah. After unseating the Mamelukes in Egypt, the Ottoman Sultan sent his representative Saleem Khan to Makkah governor Al-Sharief Barakat to ensure his allegiance.

The governor of Makkah pledged his allegiance to the Ottomans and the Sultan reciprocated by allowing him to continue in his position as governor of the Hejaz, which extended from Khaybar in the north of Madinah to Hulay in the south.

Yanbu continued to play its significant political and military role during the Ottoman era and it witnessed the intense battle among the shariefs for capturing power in Makkah. It also saw the coronation of new governors and removal existing rulers by the Sultan’s representative.

By the end of the Ottoman era, Yanbu’s role started diminishing and Jeddah took its place in politics and business, the historian said.

He gave a number of reasons for the decreasing role of Yanbu in the last years of the Ottoman rule, such as the construction of Hejaz Railway linking Madinah with Syria, recession in trade on the caravan route and Jeddah gaining prominence as the port of arrival for pilgrims.

The Saudi rulers revived Yanbu’s significant position in the political, industrial and business fields. They established a large seaport in the city and formed the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu in 1975, which transformed this desert village into a major industrial hub.

Metro Train Network

190 metro trains to serve 3.6 million commuters in Riyadh

The end of 2018, Saudi Arabia’s capital city is expected to launch one of the world’s biggest mass transit systems. Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA) approved the metro network and a brand new bus system being built and implemented simultaneously in 2012 after forecasts of a 50 percent jump in the city’s population in 20 years.

Riyadh has been witnessing an unprecedented population growth and demographic experts believe the number of people living in the city to rise to 8.3 million in 2030 from the current 6 million. The population explosion has been responsible for growth in many sectors that seek to meet people’s needs and aspirations, including the transport sector, Al-Riyadh daily reports.

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The Riyadh Metro Rail project will have a total length of 176 kilometers with six different lines operating on the network and 85 stations. It is one of the largest metro rail networks under construction around the world.
To build the system from scratch, the Saudi government awarded contracts to a number of top engineering companies from around the world. The largest of the contracts, worth a whopping $10 billion, was awarded to the US-based Bechtel.

Work on the project began in 2014, and is expected to complete by the end of 2018. Construction work in more than 200 locations for the metro and bus networks in the city has been going non-stop to finish the current phase of the project on schedule. More than 36 percent of the work in this phase has been completed. Bridges are being erected for Blue, Red, Orange, Yellow and Purple lines. Work at all four main stations have been going on for months. Substations are being constructed as well.

The metro will serve all densely populated districts of Riyadh, including government, commercial and residential buildings, healthcare centers and schools. It will link King Khalid International Airport and the King Abdullah Financial District, as well as connect with universities and other mass-transport systems in the city.

Line 1, or Blue Line, stretches from north to south through the center of Riyadh, along the Olaya-Batha corridor, covering 38 kilometers. The line will have 22 stations and four transfer stations, where it will connect with other metro lines. Much of the Blue Line will be underground.

Line 2, or Red Line, runs east to west along King Abdullah Road and will be built mostly at grade with some elevated sections. The line runs east to west and will extend more than 25 kilometers with 13 stations and three transfer stations. It links King Fahd Stadium in the east and King Saud University in the western part of the city.

Line 3, Orange Line, also runs east to west along Madinah Road and covers a distance of more than 40 kilometers, crossing Abdulrahman Bin Awf Road, the present railway station, Olaya Street and finally connecting to Jeddah Expressway.

The 29.5-kilometer Yellow Line (Line 4) covers Airport Road, Princess Noura University, Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University and links up with the Blue Line at the transfer station close to King Abdullah Financial District.

Line 5, or Green Line, runs underground through a 13-km bored tunnel along the length of King Abdulaziz Road, one of the city’s main arteries. It has 11 underground stations and transfer stations for Red and Blue Lines.

Line 6, or Purple Line, with a length of 29.7 kilometers, covers Abdulrahman Bin Awf Road and Sheikh Hassan Bin Hussain Road, crosses the Red Line and terminates at a transfer station on the Yellow Line.

The network consists of underground and overhead tracks and is designed according to the most advanced specifications. The trains that run on the tracks will be equally advanced. Passengers will be transported in 190 fully air-conditioned trains having a total of 470 cars.

The trains are built by three of the world’s largest train makers: German-based Siemens, Canada’s Bombardier and the French company Alstom. Some of the trains have already been manufactured.

The trains will be automatic and driverless. According to ADA, roughly 20 percent of the network will be powered by solar energy.

A full-size mock-up of a metro train for the Yellow, Green and Purple lines was presented to Riyadh Emir Prince Faisal Bin Bandar and Transport Minister Suleiman Al-Hamdan by Alstom on June 8.

The presentation was part of an event to mark the completion of tunnel excavation works for the Green Line , one of the three lines totaling 64 km being built by the Fast Consortium.

The event also marked the start of track laying by Alstom on an at-grade section of the Yellow Line.

Alstom is supplying 69 two-car 36m-long trains for the metro. The driverless trains are fully motorized to enable them to cope with gradients of up to 6 percent. The air-conditioned trains will have ergonomic seating, LED lightning and an advanced passenger information system.

In the first phase, the metro will serve over 1 million passengers a day and eventually it will accommodate 3.6 million passengers daily.

There will be four main stations: King Abdullah Financial District, Olaya, Government Palace and the West Station. These four locations were selected carefully because they cover highly populated areas. The stations will have car parks, commercial stores, cafés and restaurants.

The Riyadh Metro project meets all security and safety standards. All cars and stations have sophisticated surveillance and monitoring equipment and alerts, in addition to advanced fire and safety systems. Passengers can report any emergency situation to the concerned authorities using wireless communication facilities available everywhere.

Bus network

The bus network consists of 24 lines and runs a total of 1,200 kilometers covering all main areas of the capital city. Over 1,000 buses of different sizes and with a daily capacity of 900,000 passengers are ordered from major global bus manufacturers. There will be 6,700 stops, in addition to control centers. The bus network will be connected to the metro stations.


It is said that: “As a man controls his falcon, so he controls his territory.” In the Northern borders Province this age old tradition is still handed down from father to son as a lesson in patience and authority.

Originally, falcons and saluki dogs were hunted together to supplement the poor diet of the desert people. Falcons arrived in Saudi Arabia when they were on their migration route in the winter months. They were trapped, and trained to hunt. At the end of the season, the falcons were released again as there wasn’t any opportunity for hunting in the hot Saudi Arabian summers.

Falcons have long, slim wings which taper to pointed tips. In flight the wings angle back at the ‘wrists’ and wing beats are rapid. Falcon bodies are sleek; they have very round heads and long, narrow tails. Most falcons have noticeable patterns on their faces, such as the two cheek “sideburns” of the kestrel. The female (as in all hawks) is larger and more powerful than the male.

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When soaring high in the sky, they can spot any movement of the prey more than a mile away. Their sharp prehensile claws and dagger-like beak make it almost impossible for the prey to escape. Falcons range from 38 to 48cm in size. Well-cared falcons can live for 15 years or more.

When not hunting, falcons feed on pigeons and chicken. They only need water about once a week in the winter because they get water from the blood of their prey. Falcons molt during summer, and within a month they get new feathers.

Training a falcon to hunt is a time-consuming business, since the falconer keeps his bird with him at all times during the training period, which lasts about two to three weeks. Training equipment known as “furniture” consists of; jesses (subuq) which are attached to the bird’s ankles; a perch (wakir) on which the bird sits; and a hood (burqa) placed over the bird’s eyes when it is not working, to keep it quiet.

The falconer swings a lure (tilwah) around his head. The lure consists of a bundle of feathers. When the falcon lands on it she is rewarded with a piece of meat. Eventually the falcon learns to return to the lure each time it is released. The falconer wears a glove (dass) over his wrist to prevent the bird’s sharp claws from hurting him.
In autumn 1425H (2004G), a Falcon Festival was organized at Hazm al Jalamid east of Ar’ar, and attracted over 8,000 visitors to the province from other places in the Kingdom and Gulf States.

The festival involved different activities including; judging the beauty of the animals; the best and fastest hunter; and the fastest falcon to return to its owner when called over a distance of two kilometers.
The festival lasted three days and was very successful. One thousand visitors were expected and eight thousand attended. Feedback from falconers who participated in the festival was very positive and they would like to see it organized on a regular basis.

Asir National Park and Sawdah Mountain

The park includes Jebel Sawdah, which at 2,910 metres is the highest point in the Kingdom. It’s a towering presence, with the juniper trees rippling down it’s sides to the valley. Perched on the edge of the escarpment the center is part showcase and part museum. It has seven exhibit rooms including a $1.5-million visual presentation of the park’s habitats, and climaxing in an outlook over a vast panorama of majestic peaks, Wadi Dila, some 3,000 feet below and, on a clear day, the sparkling waters of the Red Sea.

Incorporating mountain, desert and seascapes, this is one of the great national parks of the world in terms of size and beauty, as well as in ecological importance and archeological interest. Opened in 1401H (1981) the park was the first of its kind created in the Kingdom. It covers an extensive tract of land from west of Abha in the mountains, through the Tihamah Plain, and ends at the Red Sea Coast.

The park incorporates six recreational areas totalling 2,000 hectares. The main access points are at: Al Hadba, Al Qara, Al Sudah. Dalgan, The National Park Visitor center, Abha, Prince Sultan Park and Toor Al-Masqah Park. In the valleys during winter and spring, wild flowers carpet the valley floor, and apricot groves fill the air with blossoms. Higher up the mountains, red foxes, hyraxes, wolves and hamadryas baboons roam among the rocky hillsides. There have even been sightings of the endangered Arabian Leopard.

This is a home of birds too – Partridges, Magpies, Warblers and the prized raptors like the Barbary Falcon, Kestrel – even the nearly extinct Long-legged Bustard has been seen.