Makkah Al-Mukkaramah which has many honorific names such as Umm Al-Qura, Al-Balad Al-Ameen (secure city) and Al-Balad Al-Haraam (Holy City), is the first holy city for Muslims.
In Makkah, Prophet Mohammad (peace and prayers be upon him) was born, the revelation was descended to him with the Noble Qur'an, and from it propagation for Islam was launched.
In the center of the city there is the Holy Mosque inside which is the Holy Qabaa, The Maqam of Prophet Ibrahim, the Stone of his son Ismaiel (peace and prayers be upon them all), Zamzam well which water has been pouring through hundreds of years, and Safa and Marwah where Muslims make Saie.
Near Makkah are the other holy shrines of Mina, Muzdalifa, and Arafat where Mount Arafat is located and where pilgrims spend the day of Arafah every year as the main ritual of Haj (pilgrimage).
The Holy City of Makkah lies inland, some 73 km east of Jeddah, in the narrow, sandy valley of Abraham. The land consists of rugged, rocky (predominantly granite) terrain, with mountain ranges on three sides (to the west, south and east). The Holy city is 277 meters (909 feet) above sea level. There are three main entrances to the Holy City; Al-Mu'allat, Al-Masfalah and Al-Shubaikah.
Jabal hiraa, to the northeast, is the site of the cave where the Prophet Muhammad, peace and prayers be upon him, sought peace for contemplation and where he received the first verse of the Noble Qur'an.
Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah is located in the north-western part of the Kingdom, to the east of the Red Sea, which lies only 250 km (155 miles) away from it. It is surrounded by a number of mountains: Al-Hujaj, or Pilgrims' Mountain to the West, Sala' to the north-west, Al-E'er, or Caravan Mountain to the south and Ohud to the north. It covers an area of about 560 square kilometers. It is the second holly city with 860,000 inhabitants.
The main characteristic of the city is the extensive Al-Haram with a capacity of 1.000.000 worshipers. The city is the main destination of the Muslim communities after the holly Mecca. Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah climate is like spring weather and very pleasant during March. Day temperature range 25 – 30 oC and relative humidity less than 15 %. Night temperature can change to 20 oC with an occasional light breeze.
Al-Madinah has excellent road connections with other urban centers of Saudi Arabia. The airport has good national connections and daily flights from Jeddah and Riyadh, as well as direct international flights. The city has many modern shopping centers, accommodation facilities and excellent health resources.
Al-Madina Al-Munawwarah is a city of numerous religious buildings, many commemorating central incidents in the earliest years of the Muslim history. The central and most important of them all is the Prophet's Mosque "Al-Haram", in which Muhammad himself is buried. The Mosque of the Two Qiblahs is interesting for commemorating the change of the prayer direction from Jerusalem to Makkah.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia includes 13 administrative regions ,i.e. Provinces , and each province includes a number of governorates and centres. Riyadh is one of these regions and has 19 governorates and Riyadh City is the capital of Saudi Arabia. Riyadh Region is located in the centre of Saudi Arabia occupying 17% of the Kingdom's area and 22.63% of the Kingdom's population is based there. Riyadh's climate is hot and dry in summer, cold in winter.
Riyadh is a growing capital that expands dynamically to accommodate various inhabitants. It is linked to other regions through a modern international airport. Riyadh is a great example of a modern city which improves services constantly while maintaining its cultural mark.
The capital occupies political, economic and cultural value since it was revived by King Abdulaziz Al-Saud – May Allah Have Mercy On Him – in the 15th of January 1902.
Known as the 'Bride of the Red Sea' , Jeddah is considered the economic and tourism capital of the country. Jeddah is located in the middle of the Eastern coast of the Red Sea . Its population is estimated around 3.4 million and it is the second largest city after Riyadh.
The foundation of the city of Jeddah is dated back to around 3000 years when groups of fishermen used to settle in it after their fishing trips. After that, the tribe of 'Quda'ah' came to Jeddah 2500 years ago and settled in it and was known by it. The historical transformation of Jeddah was in the era of the third Muslim Caliph Othman Bin Affan (May Allah be Pleased with Him) in 647 AD when he ordered the city to be transformed into a port to welcome pilgrims (Hajjis) coming by sea for the Holy Pilgrimage in Makkah. To this day, Jeddah is the main passage for both sea and air pilgrims as well as those traveling by road.
Jeddah has grown during the last two decades of the 20th century, which made the city a center for money and business in the Kingdom and a major and important port for exporting non-oil related goods as well as importing domestic needs.
Abha, the home of the headquarters of the regional province, is located in the Asir region in the south-west of the Kingdom.
Abha's position, some 7,200 feet (2,200 meters) above sea-level, gives it a relatively moderate climate.
Temperatures remain within a narrower band than is the case in many other parts of the Kingdom. The Abha region also enjoys the highest level of rainfall of any part of the natural beauty of the region and its fertility have encouraged the Saudi Arabian Government to establish a number of national parks, enabling Saudi citizens to holiday in a location of outstanding scenery and natural interest to rival anywhere abroad.
To utilize the region's touristic and aesthetic potential, several parks have been established, most important among which is the Aseer National Park. It groups small parks in Al Qara'a, Al Souda, Al Wardeh, Dalafan, Al Jarrah and Al Hassab. The area also includes the Grand Tourist lake Project and Al Hebla Park, which has been provided with a cable lift service.
In Shammar Mountains, west of the Hail valley, lies Hail. To the north is the northern border of the Kingdom. To the south is the Qasim region. East is the Riyadh region; to the west are the Tabouk and Madinah regions.
For centuries, Hail was seen as the "key to the desert" because it was the main transit point for pilgrims heading for the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah and for traders traveling north or south in the Arabian peninsula.
When, towards the end of the Abbasid Caliphate, the purity of the Arab language was threatened with dilution by foreign influences, the Muslim scholars of Hail took upon themselves responsibility for protecting and promulgating Arabic in its purest form. As a result the city became an important center of scholarship and learning.
Hail boasts a number of famous heroes and prominent poets - amongst them Zeid Al-Khair (or Al-Khail) Al-Tayee, Hayyan bin Olaiq, Ruwaished bin Kuthair, Qais bin Jerwah, Al-Trimmah bin Adie and Antarah bin Shaddad. The last of these wrote one of the most famous of all Arab poems, Mu'allaqat.
Al-Baha region is located southwest of Saudi Arabia, denominated by longitude 41°42 E and latitude 19°20 N. It middles the famous tourism area south of the kingdom; Al-Baha borders Makkah region from the north and west, and Aseer from the south and east. Al-Baha boasts fine scenery, including mountains, valleys and forests. Combined with its equable climate, Al Baha has, in recent years, taken its place amongst the resorts in which Saudi citizens can holiday in summer, rather than going abroad.
Al Baha city is the headquarters of the Governor, local councils and branches of governmental departments. Receiving the state's special attention, the city of Al Baha abounds in educational, tourist and health institutions. The "Pearl of Resorts" is the name given to Al Baha by the fascinated visitors who become acquainted with the city.
Al-Baha region is rich in ancient mining sites. The sites of Khayal al Masna' and al-Aqiq were major gold mining areas; while the village of Kuna, where over one hundred building structures are located date back to South Arabian Civilization.
Buraydah, the twin city of Unaizah, lies in Al Qassim region in the heart of the Arabian peninsula. Buraydah lies equidistant from the Red Sea to the west and the Arabian Gulf to the east. Buraydah, the regional capital of Qasim, is located on the edge of the Wadi Al-Rummah. Wadi Al-Rummah is the longest valley in the Kingdom, stretching some 370 miles (600 kms) from near Madinah to the Al-Thuwairat sands. Buraydah has a typical desert climate, with hot summers, cold winters and low humidity.
As part of the Kingdom's agricultural development program, the region of Buraydah has made an outstanding contribution to the Kingdom's wheat production. It played a crucial role in enabling the Kingdom to become not only self-sufficient in wheat but a major exporter of the cereal.
Buraydah now is one of the Al Qassim region's most important cites. It is the headquarters of the Governor, the Local Council, branches of governmental departments, and home of Qassim University in addition to a number of colleges and institutes.
Situated in northwestern Saudi Arabia, Tabuk is the provincial capital and headquarters of the Governor of the Tabuk region, local councils and branches of various governmental departments. It is spread over an area of 104,000 square kilometers. The region's ancient history dates back to 1500 BC. It is believed that the region of Tabuk was the land of Madyan and Dadan mentioned in the Holy books.
During the prosperous Saudi era, Tabuk has became famous for its agricultural produce of wheat and , vegetables and flowers particular to the place. The region's flower exports to Europe include gladiola, lilies and statices. Tabuk's historic monuments include the mosque in which the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, performed his prayers during the battle of Tabuk. There is also the Tabuk fortress and the Hijaz Railway Station (the line used to link Al Madinah Al Munawarrah with Damascus during the Ottoman Era). Al Bidaa is an important archeological town of glorious history. Its rich civilization is reflected in the numerous caves carved in the mountain. There are also important archeological sites in Al Khuraibah, Rawwafa, Al Muwailih, Al Muzim and Taima. These include historic palaces and fortresses, wells, resting places and water wells.
Tabuk is 2,200 feet above sea level. Standing high above sea level, the town of Tabuk enjoys an equitable climate. The climate in this area is mild in the summer when the average temperature reaches 29 degrees Celsius. During winter the average is 17 degrees Celsius although it can some times fall below zero. There is little rain in the area with an annual average of only 50 mm. Western, northwestern, and southwestern winds blow all year round.
Jazan is located in southwestern Saudi Arabia, Jazan covers an area of 40,000 square kilometers and includes villages and cities. The city of Jazan is situated on the Red Sea coast. Attached to it are 100 islands, including the important island of Farasan. Jazan is the third most important seaport on the Red Sea. The area's tourist landmarks include: Buqa'at Al Farar, Buqa'at Marouh, Buqa'at Heran, Al Meriah and Al Makhafa in addition to the Al Absiyah Fortress antiquities and the agricultural plateaus of Shat Al Sabaya. The region's historical cities include: Asir city, Qalaat Abi Arish, Upper Jazan, Jabal Jahfan and Qalaat Alasilki, which was formerly the headquarters of Turkish rulers. In ancient times, Jazan was known be the name of Almikhlaf Alsulimani.
Jazan area consists of fertile plains, forests and mountains. The fertile plains, which extend behind the coastal swampland, have been created by the alluvial deposits brought down from the mountains by river and flood. The forest region (the Alhazoun district), which is also subject to flooding, consists of forest interspersed with some areas of rich pasture. The mountain region is part of the Al sarawat mountain range which constitutes the jagged backbone of the Arabian Peninsula. The highest peak in Jazan is the Fifa Mountain which rises 11,000 feet.
Jazan is one of the Kingdom's richest agricultural regions, remarkable for both the quality and variety of its agricultural produce. It is notable for its production of coffee beans, grain crops (barley, millet and wheat) and fruit (apples, bananas, grapes, lemons, mangoes, oranges, papayas, plums and tamarinds). Last census of the province, conducted in 2004, has showed a count of 1,187,587 inhabitants.
Dammam is about 400 km away from Riyadh. It is the capital of the Eastern region and a very important port. It was a separate small town but now it has become one big town, linking Al-Khobar and Al-Dhahran. Dammam is now a major commercial center. It is one of the nation's chief ports, serving as a major exporting point for petroleum and natural gas. Addammam was a small coastal community until the late 1930s, when it began to be developed as a port. Several large-scale residential and commercial building projects were undertaken here in the 1970s and early 1980s. The port city is well connected by road, rail, and air with the rest of Saudi Arabia, as well as with its neighboring countries. Apart from housing the main seat of the Eastern Province administration, Dammam is a major residential and commercial center. University of Dammam, recently established, is continuing to be a minaret of education to its students and community.
Dammam retains the spirit of its past heritage, for which its local population is very proud. The Trading Port is reflective of a map of olden days. One well-maintained watch tower stands guard on King Saud Road as you pass from the City Center to Jubail highway. A typical conical structure, representing a glimpse of the past, is situated on the right corner of the bifurcating road leading to Saihat.
Skaka, an oasis town, is located in Al Jouf region, north east of Al Jouf oasis. It lies on the old caravan route from the Meditarranean to the south of the Arabian peninsula. With the help of government investment to improve agriculture in the region, Sakaka has developed its agricultural production (predominantly dates and dairy produce). On the northern edge of the town is the citadel of Qasr Za'abel. The citadel was built in the early 19th century and restored by the Saudi Government in 1994. It is remarkable for its irregular shape dictated by the contour of the hill on which it is built.
The town of Arar (Ar'ar) is the regional headquarters of the northern borders province. It has a watering station and a power station. It engages in a wide range of agricultural activities including the production of dates, other fruit, and vegetables; and the managing of livestock (camels, goats and sheep). Ar'ar is the crossing point for many of the Iraqi pilgrims entering the Kingdom to perform Hajj. Arar city population is about 164,823 .
Najran lies in the south-west of the Kingdom. It is bounded by Yemen to the south; Al Silayel and Wadi Al-Dawasir to the north; Dhahran Al-Janoub and the Asir region to the west; and Oman in the east. Although Najran has a desert climate, the heavy monsoon rains that fall in the spring, combined with its underground water reserves, produce fertile agricultural land.
Originally Najran was a small trading town known as Abul Saud. In 1965, New Najran was established. The new town was provided by the Government with educational, health and civil defense facilities. Of particular note has been the large scale tree-planting program, creating parks in Najran itself and in the surrounding villages. Najran also boasts the largest water dam in the Kingdom, the Najran Valley Dam, with a storage capacity of 85 million cubic meters (3,000 million cubic feets).