Located in northwestern Saudi Arabia and on one of the main pilgrimage routes from Iraq to Mecca, Hail was once the undisputed capital of all desert Arabia until the unification of the country. Today Hail is primarily a regional agricultural producer and oasis, providing most of the country’s wheat and many dairy products. A destination with much history, Hail was the homeland of the Rashid royal family, historical rivals to the Saudi royal family, as well as Hatim al-Tai, a famous Arabian poet who lived before Muhammad’s preaching of Islam. Visitors can explore highlights such as Barzan Palace, Barzan souk, and Qishlash Fortress. The city also hosts international events including the Desert Festival celebrating the area’s culture and the Hail International Rally. Another draw to Hail is the nearby town of Jubbah, known for its large sandstone outcrops with ancient petroglyphs which have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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This city lies northwest of Hail along the old caravan road between Najd and the Mediterranean sea. Completely surrounded by the Nafud desert, Jubbah’s oasis defies the odds and provides plentiful water for the city and its abundant agriculture, drawn from an ancient underground lake. The main attraction to this city is its large sandstone outcrops with ancient petroglyphs and inscriptions on the rock face which have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The construction of this historical palace began in 1808 and once completed it covered an area of more than 300,000 square meters with grand reception halls, gardens, and rooms for the royal family and diplomatic guests. However the palace was ordered to be destroyed in 1921 after the last Al-Rashid emir was ousted and today only one tower of the original palace remains.
This mud and clay rectangular-shaped castle is the oldest historical building in Hail, constructed in the 17th century in the heart of Hail. It is strategically perched on a hilltop, visible from all parts of the city. Visitors can tour this fortress and access its watchtowers, residential area, baths, mosque, and warehouses. The castle also grants a wonderful view of the city and surrounding farms and countryland below.
An architectural landmark of Hail, this large Islamic center has three floors and an underground basement which encompasses prayer halls, retreat rooms, a library, funeral preparation room, and digital services rooms offering simultaneous casting of the sermon and the latest in acoustics technology.
Built in the 1940s for the prince of Hail, Qishlash Palace features two floors with eight watch towers and two main gates. It was built to host troops that were protecting this northern part of the country, though it was then used as a prison before finally being repurposed as a historical building.
Hail Heritage Museum
Telling the history of Hail is the local Heritage Museum which showcases a large number of historic-ethnographic antiques and artifacts set inside a traditional Najd house. The collection is privately owned by a local patron and there is a store where visitors may purchase select heritage pieces.
Al Nafud Desert
These sweeping red sand dunes sit just past Hail to the north and is a popular destination for overnight camping trips. Though beautiful, the terrain is rugged and precautions should be taken. Rain only comes once or twice a year here and the desert is prone to sudden gusts of wind.
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Millennium Hotel Hail
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