Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Saudi Arabia- Is it beautiful?

Everyone back home ask me this question when they see me- Is Saudi Arabia beautiful? Or some, "Other than the desert, what is there in Saudi Arabia?" For both these questions, here is my answer- See these pictures-

Stone village Dhee Ayn, built of only black stone and wood

Splendid view of Dhee Ayn or Marble Village

Dhee Ayn is a small abandoned village resting on a large white hillock. The contrast of black stone houses built on white marble- like hillock and the striking green plantations at its foot make it almost surreal. The moment i lay my eyes on it, i fell in love with this wonderful place. Dhee Ayn is a Heritage Village lying about half an hour drive from Al Baha in the Baha Province, South West Saudi Arabia. The road from Baha to Al Mikhwa is an architectural marvel with a total of 23 tunnels and countless escarpments. The entire drive is breathtaking, the beauty of Baha Mountains, mist floating and cool mountain air breezing by. Then come the watch towers, Baha is called the Land of 1001 Watch Towers, that were built to safeguard the tribes from enemies. Many of them are in ruins now, but stand as a testament to simple lives of these tribal people.

At a sharp curve, we see a faint white backdrop of a hillock rising against a tiny village. We turn left and there it is, standing in all its majesty, the marble village. It was a settlement that has been abandoned 30 to 40 years ago, but built without mortar, using the available black flake stones and wood. The timber is still good, the doors and windows are of traditional Hijaz style, each house has a first floor and granary to store grains. The most striking feature of this place is the greenery, thanks to a perennial stream flowing from the hillock. The plantation has banana, date palms, corn and my favorite Thazham poo( fragrant screwpine). I never thought i could see thazhampoo in Saudi Arabia! We tried walking along the tiny stream trying to find out where the water originated, but couldnt find the water source. The settlement is almost in shambles now, they charge a nominal fee to visit the place, but i wonder how they will care for it and retain the rambling structure. Many locals have absolutely no idea about the village or were not so keen on sharing information about the village to us, tourists. Tourism in Saudi Arabia is mostly limited to Hajj and Umrah to the Two Holy Cities. For the other expats, i think mere hearsay is the only option left to explore places.

Another view from Dhee Ayn

I do sincerely wish tourism is taken mcuh seriously here, showcasing one's culture and architecture is the most fitting justice we can do to our ancestors. Thankfully, expats who visit places here, always leave their footprints online and this treasure trove can be explored if we are genuinely interested in knowing about Saudi Arabia and its culture, that is shrouded in mystery. Saudi Arabia is not confined to the Empty Quarter Desert or the suffocating concrete forests of Riyadh, Jeddah or Dammam. There are quaint towns to be seen, raw nature to be explored and its secrets to be unearthed!


  1. Hello,
    I'm french and living in Taif for one and hlaf year.
    I'vr already visited intersting place like A'Shafa or the crater of Waba.
    I'm very interested to visit Al Baha and this village. I try to find it on Google Earth without success. Have you more precisions about its location like GPS coordinates.
    Thank you.

  2. Dear Anonymous, thanks for the query, but i don't have GPS coordinates. Baha is 2 and half hours drive from Taif. Dhee Ayn is half an hour drive from Baha in Baha- Al Mikhwa road:)


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