Al-Hasa Saudi Arabia

The Middle Eastern country of Saudi Arabia has a reputation for having lots of sand. Thousands of square kilometres of the stuff. It is true that much of the country is comprised of great swathes of sand deserts, but there are also some parts of Saudi Arabia that are very green indeed.

Although access to natural supplies of fresh water can be rare there, that is not true of Al-Hasa in the country’s Eastern Province. Al-Hasa oasis is the largest oasis in Saudi Arabia. It lies about 65 kilometres (40 miles) west of the Persian Gulf. The area is renowned for its bountiful water supplies and attractive oases.

The name Al-Hasa, which is also commonly spelt as Al-Ahsa, means ‘the wells’ and is an extraordinary oasis which extends for about 20,000 hectares and gives nourishment to over three million palm trees in the largest date palm oasis in the world.

If you thought that all dates were the same then you would be wrong. In fact, there are about 360 varieties of dates, and the flavour or each variety is greatly influenced by the soil and weather conditions where they are grown. Al-Hasa is locally famous for the ‘khalasah’ date, a name which loosely translates as ‘quintessential’ and is routinely voted, but I’m not sure by whom, as the ‘Best Date in the World.’

The largest city in the region is Al-Hofuf, a city of about 1.2 million people. It is one of the wealthiest and most cultural areas in Saudi Arabia as it is the closest city to the Ghawar oil field, which is one of the largest oil fields in the world.

Al-Hofuf contains an old fort and one of the most interesting souks in the Kingdom. Because of the enormity of the oasis and the number of picturesque villages scattered through it, a good way to see the area is to hire a driver to take you on a guided tour of the area.

One of the local attractions is the Jabal Qarah, which is about 10 kilometres from the city. This region is riddled with many natural caves, and is popular with tourists who go there to explore the caves and to wander around to observe the unusual rock formations. Some of the caves are easier to explore than others thanks to the constructions of steps and walkways, whilst others have no facilities at all and much care should be taken when entering them.

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