Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (January 2008):
Eastern Province, Old Jeddah, Al Ula, and Medain Saleh


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In January 2008, I did my first trip to Saudi Arabia. I was leading a cooperation program between Stanford and the future King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). This cooperation involved meetings on both the east and the west coasts of Saudi Arabia. It gave me the opportunity to visit part of the Eastern Province, Old Jeddah, the oasis of Al Ula, and Medain Saleh.


The most interesting visit was Medain Saleh. Like Petra in Jordan, Medain Saleh is a Nabatean city built about 2000 years ago. It is located 400 km north of Medina and over 300 km south of Petra. It contains more than one hundred tombs carved into sandstone rock and spread over several kilometers. The tomb facades display decorations elements with Egyptian, Greek, and Roman influences. The site is surrounded by stunning sandstone walls and formations.


To reach Medain Saleh I flew from Jeddah to Medina. From Medina I took a car to Medain Saleh. I was very fortunate to visit this site without being part of an organized group. Amazingly, there was nobody else on the site. I had it all for myself.




Western Province:


Mosque in Qasr (Castle) Ibrahim in Al-Hofuf, a Shia center in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The castle and the mosque were built during Ottoman rule in 963 AH (Anno Hijri, Muslim calendar), or 1556 (Gregorian calendar). The mosque has been the target of a suicide bombing in January 2016.



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Old Cadillac′s, near Dhahran.





King Abdullah University of Science and Technology during construction (in Thuwal, on the Red Sea Coast north of Jeddah):



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Old Jeddah:


(Some photos below were taken during another trip in 2010.)


Traditional houses.






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Market scenes.

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Colorful, fancy, but non-alcoholic cocktails in a restaurant, Jeddah.

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Al Ula:


Along the road between Medina and Al Ula.

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Oasis of Al Ula.

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Rock formations around Al Ula and Medain Saleh.

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Some tomb clusters in Medain Saleh:


Qasr Al Sani.

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Al Khuraymat.

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Qasr Al Bint.

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Qasr Al Farid.

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