Al-Hassa City Profile
Location & Geography
The largest oasis in Saudi Arabia, Al-Ahsa is an area that extends from the Arabian Gulf from Kuwait in 29 20' N. to the south point of the Gulf of Bahrain in 25 10' North, a length of about 360 km bounded by the Al-Dahna and the Al-Daman deserts, and forms the border with Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman, covering an area of 2,500 kilometers in the southern part of the Eastern Province. On the West it is bounded by Nejd and on the S.E. by the peninsula of El Katr which forms part of Oman.
The coast is low and flat and has no deep-water port along its whole length with the exception of Kuwait; from that place to El Katif the country is barren and without villages or permanent settlements, and is only occupied by nomad tribes, of which the principal are the Bani Hajar, Ajman and Khalid. The interior consists of low stony ridges rising gradually to the inner plateau. The oases of Hofuf and Qatif, however, form a strong contrast to the barren wastes that cover the greater part of the district. Here an inexhaustible supply of underground water (to which the province owes its name Hassa) issues in strong springs, marking, according to Arab geographers, the course of a great subterranean river draining the Nejd highlands. The municipality of Al-Hassa constitutes the largest administrative area in the Kingdom.
Muhariz is celebrated for its hot spring, known as Urn Sab or mother of seven, from the seven channels by which its water is distributed. Beyond the present limits of the oasis much of the country is well supplied with water, and ruined sites and half-obliterated canals show that it has only relapsed into waste in recent times. Cultivation reappears at Qaatif; a town situated on a small bay some 35 m. north-west of Bahrain. Date groves extend for several miles along the coast, which is low and muddy. The district is fertile but the climate is hot and unhealthy; still, owing to its convenient position, the town has a considerable trade with Bahrain and the gulf ports on one side and the interior of Nejd on the other. The fort is a strongly built enclosure attributed, like that at Hofuf, to the Carmathian prince Abu Tahir.
It is home to more than 600,000 people, who mainly inhabit Al-Ahsa's four major cities: Al-Hofuf, Al-Mobarraz, Al-Oyoun, and Al-Oman. It also contains fifty scattered villages which nestle among its palms. The town walls enclose a space of 11/2 by 1 m., at the north-west angle of which is a remarkable citadel attributed to the Carmathian princes.
Al-Hasa has a dry, tropical climate, with a five month summer and a relatively cold winter. It enjoys the benefit of copious reserves of underground water which has allowed the area to develop its agricultural potential. Nevertheless, Al-Hasa has to deal with tons of sand which the wind carries and deposits over the land. To counter this problem, the Kingdom has planted large barriers of trees to prevent the wind-borne sand from damaging inhabited and agricultural areas.
Uker or Ujer is the nearest port to Hofuf, from which it is distant about 40 m.; large quantities of rice and piece goods transshipped at Bahrain are landed here and sent on by caravan to Hofuf, the great entrap for the trade between southern Nejd and the coast. It also shares in the valuable pearl fishery of Bahrain and the adjacent coast.
King Faisal University was established in this area in 1974 91494H), and it contains a general hospital, a number of government and private hospitals as well as a sports complex. Its central oasis, Al-Ahsa, boasts two million palm trees. The Ministry of Agriculture has set up a factory to process its rich output of dates, amounting to five tons daily. There is varied agricultural production in this area, including rice, corn, citrus and other fruit. Springs and brooks that abound in the region serve as an ample source of irrigation. There is also heavy livestock activity here, with 200,000 head of sheep, 50,000 head of goats, 12,000 head of cattle and 15,000 head of camels. There are more than 15 extensive poultry farms that produce more than 100 million eggs and 30 million table chickens annually.
In ancient times, Al-Hasa was at the center of the trade routes which traders followed between the east of the Arabian Peninsula and India, Persia and the Far East. The people of Al-Ahsa hold a public market at the mountain every Sunday.
Industry in Al-Ahsa
Petroleum is the main industry in the region, absorbing twenty percent of the work force. Factories turn out cement, plastic as well as the long Arab coat, or "mislah." There are various small industries as well. Because of its massive industrial and agricultural development, commerce has thrived here. Employment in markets, hotels and government and private banks absorbs sixty percent of the population.
Archeological riches in Al-Ahsa
In the long history of this region, inhabitants have included the kanoomites, Jun Hermites, Tasmis and Banu Abdul Qais.
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