In the north-central province of Ha’il, you might find fewer people than the populous cities of Riyadh and Jeddah, but Ha’il — both the city and the province — has a lot to offer. Start by exploring castles in the city of Ha’il, then set your sights out of town by planning a day trip to one of these three places.
Venture just over an hour northwest of Ha’il to Jubbah and you’ll find yourself surrounded by pictures of the past. Jabal Umm Sinman in Jubbah boasts rock inscriptions dating back at least 7,000 to 9,000 years to the Pottery Neolithic period. Home to some of the most prominent Neolithic rock art in the Middle East, the variety of inscriptions and petroglyphs reveal human activities, clothing, animals and weaponry of that time period. Jabal Umm Sinman and Jabal Al Manjor and Jabal Raat at Shuwaymis, about 250 kilometers south of Ha’il and near the town of Al Ha’it, are together recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the Shuwaymis area, discover animal and human figures: a window on history dating back almost 10,000 years.
Head north from the city and into the maze of beautiful red sand dunes begging for an active adventure. Whether you’d prefer to go dune bashing with a local tour operator or testing your balance by sand surfing, the desert is filled with day trip potential for locals and tourists alike. The 40,000 square kilometer desert comprises a third of the region of Ha’il and is an important part of the region’s cultural identity. In fact, each spring, Ha’il, along with other governments, hosts the Desert Festival, celebrating the heritage of the desert through poetry, markets with traditional crafts, food, desert life shows and more.
In the northwest area of the Ha’il province, a bit more than a half an hour from the city, take a hike at Aja or Salma, two twin peaks in the Shammar Mountain area that are named after the fallen hero and heroine in a tragic love legend. Traverse the granite peaks and domes through marches, water springs and palm trees, and keep an eye out for wildlife sightings such as Nubian mule deer along the way. For those who prefer less climbing, journey to the northwest slope of the Aja peak. Here you’ll find the preserved ruins of the palace of Hatim Al Tai, the sixth-century Arab poet whose reputation for good deeds and generosity earned him a spot in the famous stories of “One Thousand and One Nights” (also known as “Arabian Nights”).
Start planning your trip to Saudi Arabia today. With 13 major airports, including one in Ha’il, and multiple airline carriers, it’s easy to get in and around the kingdom. Additionally, the North Train services Ha’il, connecting it to Al Jouf, Qassim, Al Majmaah and Riyadh for those seeking to extend their travels further.