Ha’il: An Essence of Saudi Arabia
In the northwest of Saudi Arabia is the oasis city of Ha’il. It serves as both the province’s capital and major city. Ha’il’s historical richness comes from its location along the Hajj camel caravan route. A resident of Ha’il, Hatim al-Tai, was widely renowned for its generous residents throughout Saudi Arabia and the Arab world. The Rashid royal family also calls it home. The most famous and influential families of Saudi Arabia reside in Ha’il.
Another reason why Ha’il is considered an integral part of Saudi Arabia is because of its grain, date, and fruit production. A significant contribution of wheat to the Kingdom comes from Ha’il.
From 1836 until Saudi Arabia conquered the Emirate of Jabal Shammar in 1921, the city of Ha’il served as its capital. The House of Rashid ruled the emirate as a monarchy. Numerous foreigners visited Ha’il and the Rashidi emirs throughout the Rashidi period and wrote about their experiences regarding the beauty of the culture and surroundings in various periodicals and publications. All these reasons have added to its popularity as a tourist destination of history, shopping, and natural beauty.
Ha’il Warmly Welcomes Visitors Around the World
The famed Hatim al-Tai kindled a fire at the peak of As-Samra Mountain from where the city is visible. The mountain is now accessible by an asphalt road, and a fire powered by natural gas is lit at night. The mountain’s base is home to a park with a lake, and its side is adorned with the Saudi Arabian flag’s date palm and crossed swords, illuminated at night by electric lights.
Historical Sites of Ha’il
The Ha’il province is home to several rock art locations. Jabal Umm Sinman near Jubbah and Jabal al-Manjur are two locations that have been included on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site List. Discover the 7,000-year-old sculptures of humans, dogs, and long-horned buffalo in Jubbah’s ancient rock art. The Ha’il Museum sells admission tickets for these locations. There are several historic forts and castles in the area, particularly in and around Ha’il, the region’s capital. Sandstone formations like the Nafud al-Kabir are another important location in the area.
Must-visit Places in Ha’il
Traditional At-Turathy Restaurant
In the heart of Ha’il, there is a large old mud-brick structure known as At-Turathy Restaurant, which serves as a conventional dining establishment. It is a hybrid place with a restaurant and a museum embellished by regional décor. The cuisine is traditional, the ambiance is traditional, and there is on-floor seating.
There are several Ha’il Roundabouts spread across the city. In the middle of the traffic, rotaries are magnificent fountains with enormous sculptures of traditional objects. Another has a Mabakara (traditional incense burner) with Dellahs (traditional coffee pots) and cups surrounding it, made as a fountain. One has a Gerba (traditional animal hide canteen) built as a fountain.
The Greatness of Al-Nafud Desert
Al-Nafud, covering most of the Arabian Desert region, is located in northern Saudi Arabia. The sandy, reddish Al-Nafud is frequently referred to as the Great Nafud. Only the enormous Rub al-Khali Desert to the south is larger in size than it, making it the second biggest sandy area in the Arabian Desert.
Numerous Arabian stories and traditions have their origins in the desert, giving the area a mysterious allure. An ancient caravan road connects the oasis of Al-Jawf and Ha’il from the northwest to the southeast. Al-Nafud provides a variety of beautiful settings amid the alluring Arabian countries. The Jubbah World Heritage Site is also located there.
Although Al-Nafud is mostly desolate, occasional green spots and drinking water wells allow for cultivation and nomadic herding. Travel has been difficult in the desert for centuries due to the enormous shifting dunes and frequent sandstorms. Only once or twice a year does the desert get any rain. Otherwise, the air is dry for most of the year.
Animals like wildcats, jackals, hyenas, gazelles, lizards, and scurrying rodents can be found in the desert. The indigenous tribe of this desert is called Shammar Bedouin. They live in the southeast region of this desert and take advantage of the local meadows and wells. Adventures you can do in this desert are:
- You can choose the adventurous sport of dune bashing for an exhilarating experience. It requires driving large SUVs and strong electric or mechanical buggies over the challenging and expansive desert.
- You may ride a camel on the designated path if you prefer a more leisurely approach to explore the desert.
- The Ha’il Desert Life Festival is a yearly celebration that takes place in the Al Nafud desert in the Ha’il province every spring. The festival offers poetry readings, desert-life demonstrations, traditional arts and crafts shops, traditional Arabian cuisine, and various other engaging activities that celebrate Arabian culture and history.
- The ideal time to appreciate this Arabian desert’s magical appeal is at night while camping. Al Nafud’s night sky is best experienced with a campfire, close friends, and family.
- In the Al Nafud desert, you may explore Jubbah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The location is home to historic carvings dating from 5000–10,000 BCE.
- Paleolakes from thousands of years ago left traces at the site as well. Visitors may view the Nabataean and Thamudic inscriptions at Jubbah.
- The Ha’il Rally is a significant gathering that takes place in this desert in Ha’il and even in Saudi Arabia. It is the country’s first automobile rally, having begun in 2006 and receiving FIA approval in 2008.
Heritage Museum of Ha’il
The Ha’il Museum is called the Jubbah Palace of Heritage museum and is one of the top tourist destinations on the Ha’il Tourism list. It is located off the main street in the town of Jubbah. It is also where you may get permits to visit the petroglyphs close to the Jubbah Oasis.
Palace of Qishlah
The majestic Qishlah Fortress is situated in the heart of Ha’il. While Prince Abdulaziz bin Musa’ad Al Saud served as governor of the province of Ha’il, the current structure was constructed in the 1940s. The most extensive conventional mud-brick fortification in Ha’il, it is very well maintained both inside and out. It was mostly utilized as a barracks. Its walls are 8.5 meters high, and its two levels are 142.8 by 141.2 meters high. Along with the wall and two main gates on the eastern and western sides, it contains eight significant watchtowers. It also includes a massive interior courtyard where vintage military relics are on display.
Village of Fayd
It is a historical city situated 110 km east of Ha’il. It is regarded as a historical, archaeological site because its mountains contain historical inscriptions from prehistoric times. Ha’il is one of the most important stops on the Zubaydah trail because it is situated halfway between Mecca and Baghdad. Ha’il Tourism has ranked this location as one of the best locations to visit in Ha’il.
The Abbasid Caliphate is significant historically and is home to several Islamic monuments. The residential city, the basements, the hillside area, the palace’s Faqiyyah, the enormous mill for grinding grains, 45 wells, and water conduits are among the most significant structures in the city of Fayd. The city’s origins may be traced to the early Islamic periods. Additionally, it was recently revealed that Fayd, a historic city, has been transformed into a tourist destination because of the historical beauty it holds.
75 kilometers northeast of Ha’il is Janin Mountain and the cave that houses it. This popular destination is home to one of Ha’il’s oldest ancient caves, where humans lived before recorded history. It is a huge mountain that is situated in the center of Janin’s groundwater-rich lake. It is distinguished by a big cave, about 100 meters long, where ancient Thamudic and Abyssinian writings are scattered throughout the mountain rocks. Ha’il tourism promotes the mountain as a tourist destination because of its historical value.
Additionally, the cave’s walls are covered in various plastic paintings and other writings that express their topics, arrangements, and constituent parts. You may witness the numerous sculptures and works of art that have been uncovered using different excavation methods, such as conspicuous drilling and discharge. The carvings and paintings on the mountain depict ancient people’s everyday activities and surroundings.
On the city outskirts, you may spot Aarif Fort (sometimes written Oreif). It is a mud-brick (adobe) fort constructed over 200 years ago as a fortress and was later considered an observation post. The main watchtower offers a stunning perspective of the city.
Malls and Souq Shopping in Ha’il
Hail’s Malls are the best place to go shopping for the most well-known brands in the world. In these malls, you may buy fashion items, fragrances, gadgets, souvenirs, etc.. You may engage in traditional shopping at the city’s historic marketplaces in addition to these malls. Here’s the list of places where you can shop to your heart’s content:
- The Barzan Souk is located where the Al Rashid extended family’s Barzan Palace formerly stood.
- Due to it being a national weekend, the Friday Market, a souk in the traditional way, is hosted on that day.
- The major shopping center in Ha’il is Garden Mall, which features stores like lifestyle, shoe mart, Babyshop, H&M, Giordano, iconic, etc.
- “Samah Mall” is Ha’il’s second-largest retail center for the world’s best brand stores.
- The “Hyper Panda” retail mall is the third-largest shopping center in Ha’il province.
Luxury Stays in Ha’il
Rehlat has all the conveniently located Ha’il hotels listed on the website, making it easy for you to explore all the deals on hotel bookings. These hotels have world-class facilities and rooms for a luxurious and comfortable stay. Some of these popular hotels are:
- Millennium Hotel
- Golden Tulip Hotel
- Raoum Inn
- Orient House
- Al Raha Hotel
- Boudl Hail
- Al Eairy Furnished Apartments
- Wafi Hail Hotel Apartments
Must-try Traditional and International Cuisines
You can count on a buffet of classic foods prepared in traditional fashion when you visit Hai’il. In addition to providing warm hospitality, Ha’il also provides a comprehensive variety of family recipes that have been passed down to generations, along with a long and rich culinary expertise.
Some of these are Kibebah, Taman, Jireesh, AlThareed, Margoog, Marasiya, Aseeda, AlMagshoosh, Alrageefat, or Hanini. Traditional restaurants stick to the authenticity of the dishes, while recently set-up restaurants have taken creative liberties and altered the dishes slightly in terms of presentation.
Here’s a list of famous restaurants in Ha’il that serve both traditional and international cuisines in Ha’il:
- Dar Shawarma Restaurant is located on Prince Nayef Bin Abdulaziz Street in the eastern park district in Ha’il. It is one of the best restaurants in the city, where you will eat different types of shawarma.
- The Heritage Restaurant is located in the Al Mahatta region in Ha’il. This restaurant is best for authentic folk food, where you will get to taste Mandi dishes cooked with Meat or chicken. Other popular meals are presented throughout the restaurant, and antique and historical exhibits range from weapons to household utensils and teapots. It is considered a restaurant and a museum at the same time.
- The Indian Village Restaurant is located on King Abdul Aziz Road. It is the first restaurant in Ha’il that specializes in serving Indian and Chinese dishes and has a backdrop of romantic lighting.
- Hadramout Restaurant is located in the Al-Wasita neighborhood in Ha’il. Here you will get the city’s most delicious traditional and well-known dishes.
- Tartous Restaurant is located on King Abdul Aziz Road in the Aziziyah area. As compared to many other restaurants that offer the same dishes, the restaurant specializes in providing Iraqi grills and many Iraqi dishes as well.
- Shawaya House is located in the Ruwais region of Ha’il. It is famous for its delicious and juicy grilled Meat. The restaurant also has many branches distributed throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
- Luluah is located on Uqdah Road in Al Mahatta. It is famous for its exquisite seafood dishes.
- Vienna Garden is located in Alkhuraymi. It is quite famous in Ha’il for its Lebanese cuisine and has a beautiful outdoor seating area that can accommodate the whole family.
- Cervinia Cafe is located on Aja Road. It has a modern seating decor that serves international cuisine and is most famous for evening snacks and beverages.
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