This article is about the geographical region. For other uses, see Hejaz (disambiguation).
Map with the Saudi region outlined in red and the 1923 Kingdom in green

The Hejaz, also Al-Hijaz (Arabic: اَلْـحِـجَـاز, al-Ḥiǧāz, literally "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.[2] 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 holiest places, 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.[3] The Hejaz is the most populated region in Saudi Arabia;[4] 35% of all Saudis live in Hejaz.[5] Hejazi Arabic is the most widely spoken dialect in the region. Saudi Hejazis are of ethnically diverse origins.[6]

The Hejaz is the most cosmopolitan region in the Arabian Peninsula.[6] 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.[7]


Prehistoric or ancient times

One or possibly two megalithic dolmen have been found in Al-Hijaz.[8]

The Hejaz includes both the Cradle of Gold at Mahd adh Dhahab (23°30′12.96″N 40°51′34.92″E / 23.5036000°N 40.8597000°E / 23.5036000; 40.8597000) 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.[9]

The northern part of the Hejaz was part of the Roman province of Arabia Petraea.[10]

Al-Hijr Archaeological Site

Main article: Mada'in Saleh

Saudi Arabia's first World Heritage Site to be recognized by UNESCO is that of Al-Hjir. The name "Al-Hijr" (Arabic: اَلْـحِـجْـر, "The Stoneland" or "The Rocky Place") occurs in the Qur’an,[11] and the site is known for having structures carved into rocks, similar to Petra.[12] The construction of the structures is credited to the people of Thamud, a member of whom was a Monotheistic preacher called 'Salih',[13][14][15][16][17][18] after whom the site is also called "Mada’in Saleh" (Arabic: مَـدَائِـن صَـالِـح, "Cities of Saleh"). 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.[10][19][20][21]

Era of Abraham and Ishmael

According to Islamic sources, the civilization of Mecca started after Ibrahim (Abraham) brought his son Isma‘il (Ishmael) and wife Hajar (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,[22][23][24] which would have social, religious, political, historical implications for the site and region.[25][26] For example, during the Period of Jahiliyyah, up to the days of Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib, who was reportedly a descendant of Isma‘il, the often-warring Arab tribes would cease their hostilities during the time of Pilgrimage, and go on pilgrimage to Mecca, as inspired by Ibrahim.[24] 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.[27][28][29][30][31][32]

Era of Muhammad

Main article: Muhammad in Islam

As the land of Mecca and Medina, it was where Muhammad was born, and where he lived, created a Monotheistic Ummah (Arabic: أُمَّـة, Community) of followers, preached or implemented his beliefs, migrated from one place to another, and died. Given that he had both followers and enemies here, a number of battles or expeditions were carried out in this area. They involved both Meccan companions such as Hamzah ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib, `Ubaydah ibn al-Harith and Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, and Medinan companions.[31][32][33][34] The Hijaz fell under Muhammad's influence as he emerged victorious over his opponents, and was thus a part of his empire.[25][27][29][30][35][36][37]

Subsequent history

Due to the presence of two holy cities in the Hijaz, the region went under numerous empires throughout its Islamic history. Al-Hijaz was at the center 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 throughout much of its later history.

Brief independence

Main article: Kingdom of Hejaz

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.

Flags of entities that have dominated the Hejaz



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, the Hejaz includes the high mountains of Sarawat which topographically separate the Najd from Tehamah. Bdellium plants are also abundant in the Hijaz.

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.[7]

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.[38]

Notable Hijazis

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.



Pre-6th century ACE

  • Hubbah bint Hulail ibn Hubshiyyah ibn Salul ibn Ka‘b ibn ‘Amr al-Khuza‘i, wife of Qusai, and an ancestor of Muhammad
  • Atikah bint Murrah ibn Hilal ibn Falij ibn Dhakwan, wife of ‘Abd Manaf, and an ancestor of Muhammad

6th–7th centuries ACE



Pre-6th century ACE

6th–7th centuries ACE


8th century ACE


9th Century ACE


6th–7th centuries ACE

Post-7th century ACE

See also


  1. Mackey, p. 101. “The Western Province, or the Hijaz[...]
  2. Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary. 2001. p. 479. ISBN 0 87779 546 0. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  3. Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula. p. 316.
  4. "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.
  5. "Saudi Arabia Population Statistics 2011 (Arabic)" (PDF). p. 11.
  6. 1 2 Britain and Saudi Arabia, 1925-1939: The Imperial Oasis. p. 12.
  7. 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.
  8. Gajus Scheltema (2008). Megalithic Jordan: an introduction and field guide. ACOR. ISBN 978-9957-8543-3-1. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  9. Sullivan, Walter (1993-03-30). "SCIENCE WATCH; Signs of Ancient River". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
  10. 1 2 Kesting, Piney. "Saudi Aramco World (May/June 2001): Well of Good Fortune". Retrieved 2014-04-07.
  11. Quran 15 :80–84
  12. "Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih)". UNESCO. Retrieved 2014-04-07.
  13. 1 2 Quran 7 :73–79
  14. 1 2 Quran 11 :61–69
  15. 1 2 Quran 26 :141–158
  16. 1 2 Quran 54 :23–31
  17. Quran 89 :6–13
  18. 1 2 Quran 91 :11–15
  19. 1 2 Hizon, Danny. "Madain Saleh: Arabia's Hidden Treasure – Saudi Arabia". Retrieved 2009-09-17.
  20. 1 2 "ICOMOS Evaluation of Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih) World Heritage Nomination" (PDF). World Heritage Center. Retrieved 2009-09-16.
  21. 1 2 "Information at nabataea.net". Retrieved 2009-09-17.
  22. Quran 2 :127 (Translated by Yusuf Ali)
  23. Quran 3 :96 (Translated by Yusuf Ali)
  24. 1 2 Quran 22 :25–37
  25. 1 2 Mecca: From Before Genesis Until Now, M. Lings, pg. 39, Archetype
  26. Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, C. Glasse, Kaaba, Suhail Academy
  27. 1 2 Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad (1955). Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah – The Life of Muhammad Translated by A. Guillaume. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 88–9. ISBN 9780196360331.
  28. Karen Armstrong (2002). Islam: A Short History. p. 11. ISBN 0-8129-6618-X.
  29. 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.
  30. 1 2 al-Tabari (1987). Brinner, William M., ed. The History of al-Tabari Vol. 2: Prophets and Patriarchs. Albany, NY: State University of NY Press. ISBN 978-0-87395-921-6.
  31. 1 2 Al Mubarakpuri, Safi ur Rahman (2002). Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum (The Sealed Nectar): Biography of the Noble Prophet. Darussalam. pp. 127 – 147. ISBN 9960-899-55-1. Retrieved 2014-10-06.
  32. 1 2 Haykal, Husayn (1976), The Life of Muhammad, Islamic Book Trust, pp. 217–218, ISBN 978-983-9154-17-7
  33. Sahih al-Bukhari, 5 :57 :74
  34. Witness Pioneer "Pre-Badr Missions and Invasions"
  35. "Muhammad", Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim world
  36. Holt (1977), p. 57
  37. Lapidus (2002), pp. 31–32
  38. Riedel, Bruce (2011). "Brezhnev in the Hejaz" (PDF). The National Interest. 115. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
  39. Maqsood, Ruqaiyyah Waris. "The Prophet's Line Family No 3 – Qusayy, Hubbah, and Banu Nadr to Quraysh". Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood Dawah. Retrieved 2013-07-01.
  40. Book of Genesis, Chapters 10, 11, 16, 17, 21 and 25
  41. 1 Chronicles, Chapter 1
  42. Ibn Hisham. The Life of the Prophet Muhammad. 1. p. 181.
  43. "Pusat Sejarah Brunei" (in Bahasa Melayu). www.history-centre.gov.bn. Retrieved 2016-08-23.


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