Arabic: ٱلْـحِـجَـاز, translit. Al-Ḥijāz
Map of the Hejaz showing the cities of Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, Tabuk and Yanbu, amongst others that are outside the region. The Saudi Arabian region is outlined in red, and the 1923 Kingdom is in green.
Saudi regions Al-Bahah, Mecca, Medina and Tabuk

The Hejaz (Arabic: ٱلْـحِـجَـاز, translit. al-Ḥijāz, lit. 'the Barrier'), is a region in the west of present-day Saudi Arabia. The region is so called as it separates the land of the Najd in the east from the land of Tihamah in the west. It is also known as the "Western Province."[1] It is bordered on the west by the Red Sea, on the north by Jordan, on the east by the Najd, and on the south by 'Asir Region.[2] Its largest city is Jeddah, but it is probably better known for the Islamic holy cities of Mecca[3] and Medina.[4][5][6] As the site of the two holiest sites in Islam, the Hejaz has significance in the Arab and Islamic historical and political landscape.

Historically, the Hejaz has always seen itself as separate from the rest of Saudi Arabia.[7] The Hejaz is the most populated region in Saudi Arabia;[8] 35% of all Saudis live there.[9] Hejazi Arabic is the most widely spoken dialect in the region. Saudi Hejazis are of ethnically diverse origins.[10]

The Hejaz is the most cosmopolitan region in the Arabian Peninsula.[10] 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.[11]


Prehistoric or ancient times

One or possibly two megalithic dolmen have been found in the Hijaz.[12]

The Hejaz includes both the Mahd adh-Dhahab (Arabic: مَـهْـد الـذَّهَـب, "Cradle of (the) Gold") (23°30′13″N 40°51′35″E / 23.50361°N 40.85972°E / 23.50361; 40.85972) and a 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.[13]

The northern part of the Hejaz was part of the Roman province of Arabia Petraea.[14]

Al-Hijr Archaeological Site

Saudi Arabia's first World Heritage Site that was recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is that of Al-Hijr. The name "Al-Ḥijr" (Arabic: الْـحِـجْـر, "The Land of Stones" or "The Rocky Place") occurs in the Quran,[15] and the site is known for having structures carved into rocks, similar to Petra.[7][16] Construction of the structures is credited to the people of Thamud. The location is also called "Madā’in Ṣāliḥ" (Arabic: مَـدَائِـن صَـالِـح, lit. 'Cities of Saleh'),[17][18][19][20][21][22] as it is speculated to be the city in which the Islamic Nabī (Arabic: نَـبِي, Prophet) Salih was sent to the people of Thamud. After the disappearance of Thamud from Mada'in Saleh, it came under the influence of other people, such as the Nabataeans, whose capital was Petra. Later, it would lie in a route used by Muslim Pilgrims going to Mecca.[14][23][24][25]

Era of Abraham and Ishmael

According to Arab and Islamic sources, the civilization of Mecca started after Ibrāhīm (Arabic: إِبـرَاهِـيـم, Abraham) brought his son Ismā‘īl (Arabic: إِسـمَـاعِـيـل, Ishmael) and wife Hājar (Arabic: هَـاجَـر, Hagar) here, for the latter two to stay. Some people from the Tribe of Jurhum settled with them, and Isma'il reportedly married two women, one after divorcing another, at least one of them from this tribe, and helped his father to construct or re-construct the Ka‘bah (Arabic: كَـعـبَـة, lit. 'Cube'),[26][27][28] which would have social, religious, political and historical implications for the site and region.[29][30]

For example, in Arab or Islamic belief, the tribe of Quraysh (Arabic: قُـرَيـش) would descend from Isma'il ibn Ibrahim, be based in the vicinity of the Ka'bah,[31] and include Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Abdul-Muttalib ibn Hashim ibn Abd Manaf. From the Period of Jāhiliyyah (Arabic: جَـاهِـلِـيَّـة, 'Ignorance') to the days of Muhammad, the often-warring Arab tribes would cease their hostilities during the time of Pilgrimage, and go on pilgrimage to Mecca, as inspired by Ibrahim.[28] It was during such an occasion that Muhammad met some Medinans who would allow him to migrate to Medina, to escape persecution by his opponents in Mecca.[32][33][34][35][36][37]

Era of Muhammad

As the land of Mecca[3] and Medina,[4][5][6] the Hijaz was where Muhammad was born, and where he founded a Monotheistic Ummah (Arabic: أُمَّـة, Community) of followers, bore patience with his foes or struggled against them, migrated from one place to another, preached or implemented his beliefs, lived and died. Given that he had both followers and enemies here, a number of battles or expeditions were carried out in this area, like those of al-Aḥzāb (Arabic: الأَحـزَاب, "the Confederates"), Badr[38] and Ḥunayn (Arabic: حُـنَـيـن). They involved both Meccan companions, such as Hamzah ibn Abdul-Muttalib, Ubaydah ibn al-Harith and Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, and Medinan companions.[4][36][37][39][40] The Hijaz fell under Muhammad's influence as he emerged victorious over his opponents, and was thus a part of his empire.[29][32][34][35][41][42][43]

Subsequent history

Due to the presence of the two holy cities in the Hijaz, the region was ruled by numerous empires. The Hijaz was at the center of the Rashidun Caliphate, in particular whilst its capital was Medina from 632 to 656 ACE. The region was then under the control of regional powers such as Egypt and the Ottoman Empire, throughout 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 replaced by that of Ibn Saud of the 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.


Al Bahah Region:

Al Madinah Region:

  • Al-Madīnah Al-Munawwarah (Arabic: الـمَـدِيـنَـة الـمُـنَـوَّرَة, Medina)[2]
  • Badr (Arabic: بَـدر)[45]
  • Yanbu‘ al-Baḥr (Arabic: يَـنـبُـع الـبَـحـر, Yanbu)[2]

Makkah Province:

Tabuk Region:


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

International standard resort

As a component of Saudi Vision 2030, a beach resort is proposed to be built on the Red Sea between the towns of Umluj (25°03′00″N 37°15′54″E / 25.0500°N 37.2651°E / 25.0500; 37.2651) and Al-Wajh (26°14′12″N 36°28′08″E / 26.2366°N 36.4689°E / 26.2366; 36.4689), in the northern section of the Hejazi coast. The resort project will involve "50 islands and 34,000 square kilometers in a global upmarket tourism and leisure mega-development,"[50][51] and will be "governed by laws on par with international standards."[52][53]

People of the 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.[11]

The people of Hejaz have never fully accommodated to Saudi rule and their Wahhabi religion. They continue to be Sunni of Maliki rite with a Shia minority in the cities of Medina, Mecca and Jeddah. Many consider themselves more cosmopolitan because Hejaz was for centuries a part of the great empires of Islam from the Umayyads to the Ottomans.[54]

Notable Hijazis



Pre-6th century ACE



Pre-6th century CE



6th–7th centuries CE


See also


  1. Quran: 7:73–79;[17] 11:61–69;[18] 26:141–158;[19] 54:23–31;[20] 89:6–13;[21] 91:11–15.[22]


  1. Mackey, p. 101. “The Western Province, or the Hijaz[...]
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary. 2001. p. 479. ISBN 0 87779 546 0. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  3. 1 2 Quran 48:22–29
  4. 1 2 3 4 Quran 9:25–129
  5. 1 2 Quran 33:09–73
  6. 1 2 Quran 63:1–11
  7. 1 2 3 Butler, J. W. S.; Schulte-Peevers, A.; Shearer, I. (2010-10-01). Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula. Lonely Planet. pp. 316–333.
  8. "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.
  9. "Saudi Arabia Population Statistics 2011 (Arabic)" (PDF). p. 11. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 15, 2013.
  10. 1 2 Britain and Saudi Arabia, 1925–1939: The Imperial Oasis. p. 12.
  11. 1 2 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.
  12. Gajus Scheltema (2008). Megalithic Jordan: an introduction and field guide. ACOR. ISBN 978-9957-8543-3-1. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  13. Sullivan, Walter (1993-03-30). "Science Watch; Signs of Ancient River". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
  14. 1 2 Kesting, Piney. "Saudi Aramco World (May/June 2001): Well of Good Fortune". Retrieved 2014-04-07.
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  16. "Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih)". UNESCO. Retrieved 2014-04-07.
  17. 1 2 Quran 7:73–79
  18. 1 2 Quran 11:61–69
  19. 1 2 Quran 26:141–158
  20. 1 2 Quran 54:23–31
  21. 1 2 Quran 89:6–13
  22. 1 2 Quran 91:11–15
  23. Hizon, Danny. "Madain Saleh: Arabia's Hidden Treasure – Saudi Arabia". Retrieved 2009-09-17.
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  25. "Information at nabataea.net". Retrieved 2009-09-17.
  26. Quran 2:127 (Translated by Yusuf Ali)
  27. Quran 3:96 (Translated by Yusuf Ali)
  28. 1 2 Quran 22:25–37
  29. 1 2 Lings, Martin (1983). Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. Islamic Texts Society. ISBN 978-0-946621-33-0.
  30. Glassé, Cyril (1991). "Kaaba". The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam. HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 0060631260.
  31. Quran 106:1–4
  32. 1 2 3 Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad (1955). Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah – The Life of Muhammad Translated by A. Guillaume. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 88–589. ISBN 9780196360331.
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  34. 1 2 Firestone, Reuven (1990). Journeys in Holy Lands: The Evolution of the Abraham-Ishmael Legends in Islamic Exegesis. Albany, NY: State University of NY Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-0331-0.
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  39. 1 2 Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:57:74
  40. Witness Pioneer "Pre-Badr Missions and Invasions"
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  42. Holt (1977), p. 57
  43. Lapidus (2002), pp. 31–32
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  45. بـتـصـرف عـن مـجـلـة الأمـانـة الـعـدد عـشـرون شـوال 1419 تـصـدر عـن أمـانـة الـمـديـنـة الـمـنـورة إمـارة مـنـطـقـة الـمـديـنـة الـمـنـورة
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  57. Book of Genesis, Chapters 10, 11, 16, 17, 21 and 25
  58. 1 Chronicles, Chapter 1
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Further reading

  • 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.
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