World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Map with the Saudi region outlined in red and the 1923 Kingdom in green
Mountains of Hejaz

Al-Hejaz, also Hijaz (Arabic: الحجازal-Ḥiǧāz, literally "the barrier"), is a region in the west of present-day Saudi Arabia. It is bordered on the west by the Red Sea, on the north by Jordan, on the east by Najd, and on the south by Asir.[1] Its main city is Jeddah, but it is probably better known for the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina. As the site of Islam's holy places, the Hejaz has significance in the Arab and Islamic historical and political landscape.

Historically, Hejaz has always seen itself as separate from the rest of Saudi Arabia.[2] Hejaz is the most populated region in Saudi Arabia;[3] 35% of all Saudis live in Hejaz.[4] Hejazi Arabic is the most spoken accent in the region. Saudi Hejazis are of ethnically diverse origins.[5]

Hejaz is the most cosmopolitan region in the Arabian Peninsula.[5] People of Hejaz have the most strongly articulated identity of any regional grouping in Saudi Arabia. Their place of origin alienates them from the Saudi state, which invokes different narratives of the history of the Arabian Peninsula. Thus, Hejazis experienced tensions with people of Najd.[6]


  • History 1
    • Archaeology 1.1
    • Ancient Arabia 1.2
    • Early Islamic era 1.3
    • Subsequent history 1.4
    • Brief independence 1.5
    • In modern Saudi Arabia 1.6
    • Flags of entities that have dominated Hejaz 1.7
  • People of Hejaz 2
  • Geography 3
  • Cities 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8



One or possibly two megalithic dolmen have been found in Hejaz.[7]

Ancient Arabia

The Hejaz includes both the Cradle of Gold at Mahd adh Dhahab () and a potential water source now dried out that used to flow 600 miles (970 km) north east to the Persian Gulf via the Wadi Al-Rummah and Wadi Al-Batin system. Archaeological research led by of Boston University and the University of Qassim indicates that the river system was active in 8000  BCE and 2500–3000 BCE.[8]

The northern part of Hejaz was part of the Roman province of Arabia Petraea.[9] The region is so called as it separates the land of Najd in the east from the land of Tihamah in the west. It is also known as the "Western Province".[10]

Early Islamic era

Muhammad sent some of his fighters to the Hejaz. Ubaydah ibn al-Harith was the commander of the second raid to be carried out against the Quraysh. This raid took place nine months after the Hijra, a few weeks after the first one at al-Is.[11][12][13]

About a month after Hamzah's unsuccessful bid to plunder, Muhammad entrusted a party of sixty Muhajirun led by Ubaydah to conduct another operation at a Quraysh caravan that was returning from Syria and protected by two hundred armed men. The leader of this caravan was Abu Sufyan ibn Harb.

The Muslim party went as far as Thanyatul-Murra, a watering place in Hejaz. No fighting took place, as the Quraysh were quite far from the place where Muslims were in the offing to attack the caravan. Nevertheless, Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas shot an arrow at the Quraysh. This is known as the first arrow of Islam.[14] Despite this surprise attack, no fighting took place and the Muslims returned empty-handed. It is believed that Ubaydah was the first to carry the banner of Islam; others say Hamzah was the first to carry the first banner .[11][13][15]

Subsequent history

Due to the presence of two holy cities in Hejaz, the region went under numerous empires throughout its Islamic history. Hijaz was at the centre of the Rashidun Caliphate, in particular whilst its capital was in Medina from 632 to 656. The region was then under the control of regional powers such as Egypt and the Ottoman Empire through much of its later history.

Brief independence

In 1916, Sharif Hussein ibn Ali proclaimed himself king of an independent Hejaz, as a result of the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence. The ensuing Arab Revolt overthrew the Ottoman Empire. In 1924, however, ibn Ali's authority was usurped by Ibn Saud of the neighboring region of Najd.

In modern Saudi Arabia

At first, Ibn Saud ruled the two as separate units, though they became known as the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd. Later they were formally combined as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Flags of entities that have dominated Hejaz

People of Hejaz

People of Hejaz, who feel particularly connected to the holy places of Mecca and Medina, have probably the most strongly articulated identity of any regional grouping in Saudi Arabia. Their place of origin alienates them from the Saudi state, which invokes different narratives of the history of the Arabian Peninsula. Thus, they experienced tensions with people of Najd.[6]

The people of Hejaz have never fully accommodated to Saudi and Wahhabi rule. Many consider themselves more cosmopolitan because Hejaz was for centuries a part of the great empires of Islam from the Umayyads to the Ottomans.[16]

This is compensated, however, by huge oil income, with all the oil found in the opposite end of Saudi Arabia.


The region is located along the Red Sea Rift. The region is also known for its darker, more volcanic sand. Depending on the previous definition, Hejaz includes the high mountains of Sarawat which topographically separate Najd from Tehamah. Bdellium plants are also abundant in the Hijaz.


See also


  1. ^ Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary. 2001. p. 479.  
  2. ^ Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula. p. 316. 
  3. ^ "Mecca: Islam's cosmopolitan heart". The Hijaz is the largest, most populated, and most culturally and religiously diverse region of Saudi Arabia, in large part because it was the traditional host area of all the pilgrims to Mecca, many of whom settled and intermarried there. 
  4. ^ "Saudi Arabia Population Statistics 2011 (Arabic)" (PDF). p. 11. 
  5. ^ a b Britain and Saudi Arabia, 1925-1939: The Imperial Oasis. p. 12. 
  6. ^ a b Beranek, Ondrej (January 2009). "Divided We Survive: A Landscape of Fragmentation in Saudi Arabia" (PDF). Middle East Brief 33: 1–7. Retrieved April 15, 2012. 
  7. ^ Gajus Scheltema (2008). Megalithic Jordan: an introduction and field guide. ACOR.  
  8. ^ Sullivan, Walter (March 30, 1993). "SCIENCE WATCH; Signs of Ancient River". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 June 2014. 
  9. ^ Kesting, Piney (May–June 2001). "Well of Good Fortune".  
  10. ^ Mackey, p. 101. "The Western Province, or the Hijaz[...]
  11. ^ a b Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar p. 127
  12. ^ Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar p. 147
  13. ^ a b Haykal, Husayn (1976), The Life of Muhammad, Islamic Book Trust, pp. 217–218,  
  14. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:57:74
  15. ^ Witness Pioneer "Pre-Badr Missions and Invasions"
  16. ^ Riedel, Bruce (2011). "Brezhnev in the Hejaz" (PDF). The National Interest 115. Retrieved April 23, 2012. 


  • Mackey, Sandra. The Saudis: Inside the Desert Kingdom. Updated Edition. Norton Paperback. W.W. Norton and Company, New York. 2002 (first edition: 1987). ISBN 0-393-32417-6 pbk.

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.