A journey into the past, a trip to Al Ula is always full of excitement and fun, provides the romance of traveling through a beautiful desert landscape.
Al Ula is situated northwest of Saudi Arabia. It lies between a chain of mountains on its eastern and western sides. It is about 400 km north of Al Madinah. Al Ula had a biblical named “Dedan’” as mentioned in the Old Testament and in the Assyrian and Arabic writings. The city was inhabited by Arab tribes as inscriptions show. The Lihyanite people were its original settlers. The Minean were also mentioned, but they constituted a minority compared to the former, as they essentially arrived there to participate in the Southern Arabian trade on its way to the North of Arabia, Levant and Egypt. The city occupies a strategic position along the main trade route carrying incense and spices and connecting civilizations of the old world. It acted as the medium between the civilizations of India and Southern Arabia in the South and Mesopotamia, the Levant and Egypt in the north from early times to the end of the first century A.D.
This is a rare example of an Islamic City, which goes back to the 7th century H/11th A.D. The building material was reused stone brought from archaeological site, Al Khuraiba located nearby. Many of the Lihyanite inscribed stones, alters, stone blocks can be seen today in existing houses. The houses were lined side by side to form an outer enclosure wall to protect the city against enemy attacks.
The Antiquities department has established the museum in Sikhairat in Al-Ula. It is open to the visitors in the morning and in the evening.
Al Ula is characterized by its attractive natural scenery marked by the reddish sandstone inselbergs carved by natural agencies into beautiful and attractive shapes. Sand dunes and inselbergs combined together to form a wonderful display of thrilling nature. During winter and spring, after the rain, the area turns into green fields attracting the inhabitants and visitors from outside the region.
Mabiyat archaeological sites occur at 15 km to the south of Al Ula near Mugheira village. Its history goes back to the Umayyad and Abbasid periods. Ruins of buildings, remains of an irregular wall enclosure and pottery shreds can be seen on the site area. The Antiquities Department conducted excavations in 1404-1405 H (1948-1985 A.D.) and covered the buildings of a large Islamic city. Houses were built of mud bricks and firebricks with their floors covered by mud or plaster.
Inscriptions and graffiti are widely spread on the sides and summits of Jabel Al Ula covering the prehistoric period and ancient civilizations writings: Lihyanite, Minean, Aramaic, Nabatean as well as Islamic.
Al Khuraiba is one of the sites attributed to the Kingdom of Lihyan, which dominated the area during the period between the 6th and 2nd century B.C. Pottery shreds of different types and forms are widespread in the site area.. Stone altars, incense burners, stone and statues with Lihyanite inscriptions have been found. Inhabitants in building Al Ula old city reused inscribed stones and other objects. There is a circular basin carved in one piece of sandstone rock believed to be a part of Lihyanite temple. There is also a large number of tombs, each is a room containing a number f graves or simply a single shaft for one person. Some of the tombs have inscription bearing the name of the owner. One of the most known tombs is Al Usud (the lions), which is characterized by two lions carved on the side of the tomb.
This site is a small Wadi slopping from Jabel Ikmah, in which telling stones bearing Lihyanite and Minean inscriptions were discovered. These, together with one inscription were beautifully executed with signs of different forms and shape.
1) King Abdulaziz national Park located in Al Harra Mountain 700 meters above the city were you’ll have a bird eye view of Al Ula and Mada’in Saleh. A steep track, 26 km long, drives you to the top, starting from the bridge at the end of the road from Hail.
2) The Elephant Rock, 5km south of the Mada’in Saleh site gate, a natural beauty produced in the sandstone by the regular sandstorms over thousand of years.
3) Madakheel and Shiraan Valleys similar to the Wadi Rum in Jordan.
4) Al Hawiyah Canyon: The depth of this canyon is almost 400 meters at its deepest.
Mount Ithlib is situated to the North east of Al Hijr within a group of two parallel chains of high rocky peaks separated by a narrow canyon. This mountain range was of great importance to the Nabateans and served as a religious center that was the focus of a number of rituals.
Standing in a landscape steeped in history and legend. The tombs of Mada’in Saleh are the only tangible remains of a people who literary vanished as a culture into the mists of time. Madain Saleh, known also as Hegra, it was the southern capital of Nabatean Kingdom, while Petra was its northern capital.
Madain Saleh was an important trading center on the caravan route linking southern Arabia to the Mediterranean basin and Mesopotamia. It’s been prosperous city and people displayed their wealth with spectacular tombs carved in the surrounding mountain.
It is a journey with full of excitement and a trail of romantic History, from the ancient frankincense and myrrh traders. To huge caravans of Hajj pilgrims, to remnants of ottoman empire soldiers steaming south to Madinah, to T.E. Lawrence and his like with their wild armies of Bedouin fighting their way North.