al-Hejaz (also Hijaz, Hedjaz; _ar. الحجاز "al-Ḥiǧāz", literally "the barrier") is a region in the west of present-day Saudi Arabia. Defined mostly by the Red Sea, it extends from Haql on the Gulf of Aqaba to Jizan. Its main city is Jeddah, but it is probably better-known for the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina. As a region, "The Hijaz", as it is often referred to, because of being the site of Islam's holy places, has significance in the Arab and Islamic historical and political landscape. In Arabic, Hejaz means literally "the barrier" as it separates the land of Najd in the east from the land of Tihamah in the west.


Evidence suggests the Hejaz (or parts of it) was part of the Roman province of Arabia [cite web |url= http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/200103/well.of.good.fortune.htm |title= Well of Good Fortune |first= Piney |last= Kesting |work= Saudi Aramco |date= May/June 2001 |accessdate= 2007-03-20] . Under the control of regional powers such as Egypt or the Ottoman Empire through most of its history, the Hejaz had a brief period of political independence in the early 20th century. It was one of several regions of the Ottoman Empire provoked into rebellion by T. E. Lawrence ("of Arabia") of the British during World War I. In 1916 its independence was proclaimed by Sherif Hussein ibn Ali, the Sherif of Makkah. In 1924, however, ibn Ali's authority was usurped by Ibn Saud of the neighboring region of Nejd and became known as the Kingdom of Hijaz and Nejd and later the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Even today, Hejazis adhere to a more moderate interpretation of Islam than does the Wahhabi sect that arose in Nejd. [James Minahan (2002), "Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: Ethnic and National Groups Around the World" (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press).]

The Biblical story of the Garden of Eden is in Genesis 2:11: "And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone."
Havilah is usually associated with either the Arabian Peninsula or north-west Yemen, but in the work associated with the Garden of Eden by Juris Zarins, the Hejaz mountains appear to satisfactorily meet the description. The Hejaz includes both the Cradle of Gold at Mahd adh Dhahab (coord|23|30|12.96|N|40|51|34.92|E|) and a potential source of the now dried out Pishon River that used to flow 600 miles north east to the Persian Gulf via the Wadi Al-Batin system. Archaeological research lead by Farouk El-Baz of Boston University indicates that the river system, now prospectively known as the Kuwait River, was active 2,500-3000BC [ [http://focusmagazine.org/Articles/pishonriver.htm The Pishon River - Found. by C.A. Salabach at Focus Magazine] ] . Bdellium plants are also abundant in the Hijaz.


Geographically, the region is located along the Great Rift Valley. The region is also known for it darker more volcanic sand. Depending on the previous definition, Hejaz includes the high mountains of Sarawat which topographically separate Najd from Tehamah.


* Jeddah
* Makkah al-Mukarramah
* Medina
* Ta’if
* Yanbu' al Bahr
* Al Bahah
* Tabuk
* Badr Hunayn
* Rabigh

ee also

* Hejazi Accent
* Hejazi turban
* Mizmar (dance)
* Kingdom of Hejaz
* Hejaz railway
* "Hijaz" is also the name of a mode (maqam) in Arabic music.


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