NAJRĀN (نجران)

Najrān is a town oasis in the southern Asir region in the desert along the Yemen frontier next to al-Khali (“Empty Quarter”) desert. It is the capital of Najran province and is one of the country’s fastest-growing cities (pop. 600,000). In earlier times, it was called Abu As-Su’ud.

First visited by the Romans in 24 BC, it was the seat of an important Christian colony in 500–635 CE. Najrān was one of the leading centers producing frankincense and myrrh to supply the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East between 1000 BCE and 600 CE. An attack on the town by the Ḥimyarite king Yūsuf Asʾar Yathʾar (also called Dhū Nuwās) sometime around 520 CE precipitated the fall of his kingdom; news of a massacre and persecution led to intervention from Aksum, which succeeded in overrunning the Himyarite kingdom in 525 and replacing it with a protectorate under the vice-royalty of Abraha. The proximity of these and subsequent events to the rise of Islam in Mecca, both time and space, left an impact on the formative literature of the religion, in which it is reported that the Prophet Muhammad also reached an agreement of tolerance with Najrān’s Christian community in an event known as the Mubāhalah. However, many of the town’s inhabitants were deported to Iraq under the caliphate of ʿUmar.

In the mid-20th century, Najrān was the subject of controversy between Saudi Arabia and Yemen (Sanaa). The Treaty of Al-Ṭāʾif, in 1934, was given to Saudi Arabia. Still, the boundary was disputed for decades by Yemen (Sanaa) and later by the united Yemen state until the two countries finalized the demarcation of the border. The oasis is a highly fertile agricultural area that produces dates and grains and is used for stock raising.

All monuments and places worth a visit are spread around the river belt in 40 kilometers, so we used Bolt and helpful locals to get around. We spent the whole day exploring – Al-Ukhdud archeological site with a nicely done museum, the quarter Aba as Su’ud with old houses, the beautiful Amarah palace, the large Aan palace, and little Sheikh Ali Bin Hussein Al Makrami Palace standing on the rock.

During our sightseeing, we met many friendly locals who helped us with our transportation or invited us for tea. The first night we met the friendly owner of a private resort-like place @the.domesresort. After a short chat, he told us that since he had no bookings, we could use the resort for the whole night to refresh after a long drive. On the second day at the Ann Palace, we met our new friend, Sultan, and his father, who invited us for a delicious dinner at his house. And to everyone’s surprise, not only his brothers joined the dinner, but also our “tail” (secret police who followed our truck the whole time during our stay in Najran province). We had such a great talk with him and his brothers that we left very late, around 1 am.

The Domes Resort

Our dinners

Parking location – Najran: 17.535847N 44.236561E (🚻,🔌,💦)