January 24, 2022


AL – MEDINA AL – MUNAWWARA – Al-Medina al-Munawwara (the Lighted City) also known as Madina an-Nabawi (the city of the Prophet), is located in Hijaz, on the western part of Saudi Arabia, some four hundred kilometers north of Mecca.

Medina has a population of about 600 000 inhabitants.

Medina is second to Mecca in spiritual importance among Muslims.

The presence of the Prophet`s Mosque (masjid al-Nabawi), the burial place of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and many other historical sites in Medina attract millions of visitors every year.

Medina became a city of religious importance with the arrival of the Prophet (PBUH) in it in the year 622 A.D. The Prophet (PBUH) and his companions (R) were persecuted in Makkah for practising and preaching a monotheistic religion, that is, Islam which is diametrically opposed to the polytheistic religion of the Makkans of the Jahiliya period.

As Islam began to have a greater influence among the Arabs of Makkah, the Qureish tribe who were the guardians of the Ka`ba and the 360 idols around it, feared that they would lose their privileged position among the Arabs.

They devised all means to stop the spread of Islam which is threatening their social, economic and religious status.

They intensified their persecutions on the the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions (R) to such an extent that the latter were compelled to leave their beloved homeland, their dear ones, and their belongings behind and migrated to Medina to be able to practise their religion.

This event is such an important one in the history of Islam that during the caliphate of Umar bin Khattab (R), the caliph chose this event to mark the beginning of the Islamic calendar.

Al-Medina al-Munawwara in the 21st century

roads in medina Munawwara (the city of the Prophet)
Amir Abdullah road (second ring road), Medina [046]

Al-Medina al-Munawwara becomes more lively during the hajj and Ramadanseasons.

During these seasons all the markets and shopping centers around the Prophet`s Mosque are crowded with visitors and are opened till late at night. 

In fact, the economy of Medina depends mainly on the millions of visitors it welcomes throughout the whole year, more particularly during hajj and Ramadan seasons, by offering services such as transport and communication facilities, food and accommodations services just to mention a few.

hotels at madina munawwara (the city of the Prophet)
Hotels around the Prophet`s Mosque [048]

The old hotels around the mosque of the Prophet are being replaced by new ones.

This picture depicts a contrast between the new hotels and the old ones.

There is a large area in the middle of the image that has been cleared for new buildings.

picture of hotels at masjid Nabawi, Madinah Munawwarah
A panoramic view of the recently built hotels near the Prophet`s Mosque [273]

The motorways of Madinah
A motorway in Madina Munawwara in the morning [247]

In Madina schools start at 7.30 am and end at 1.30 pm except for the month of Ramadan where school hours are normally 10.30 am till 2.30 pm. So expect more traffic at these times.

photo of buildings, hotels around masjid nabawi, medinah munawwarah
Buildings around the Prophet Mosque, Madina [274]

graffiti in Madina Munawwara
Graffiti, Madina [047]

Next to this building there is an open area where the teenagers of this region used to gather in the evening and at night to play football and to chat.

foreigners in Madina Munawara, Saudi Arabia
A Syrian working in a restaurant, Madina [049]

Still there are many foreigners working in Saudi Arabia (some 5.5 million in 2006) although the government has made efforts to reduce its reliance on non-Saudi labor (the total population is around 27 million in 2006).

Baida, Medina, Saudi Arabia
The landscape in Baydah, Madina [050]

Muntazah Baydah is a recreational park in Madina and is located some 20 km away from the Prophet`s mosque.

The locals used to come here with families and friends to relax and even camp here.

You can hire tents to set up your own camp.

Here the landscape is mountainous and there are lots of thorny plant.

To really explore this area, you will need a four wheel drive vehicle.

road sign in madinah munawara
Road sign on one of the main roads of Medina [051]

Picture of Uhud mountain, Madina Munawara
A panoramic view of mountain Uhud, Madinah [208]


MADAIN SALEH – Madain Saleh, also known as al-Hijr, is one of the best known archaeological sites in Saudi Arabia, located near Ula (previously known as Dedan), some 400 kilometers north of Madina.

Madain Saleh was once inhabited by the Nabataeans some 2000 years ago, Petra (located in Jordan) being the capital of the Nabataean kingdom.

The Nabataeans are of Arab origin who became rich by their monopoly on the trade of incense and spice in particular between the East and the Roman, Greek and Egyptian empires.

Madain Saleh has about 130 dwellings and tombs that extend over some 13 kilometers.

tombs of the nabataean at Madain Salih (al-Hijr)
The inside of one of the tombs at Madain Saleh [002]

However, Muslims believe that Madain Saleh was built and was first inhabited by the people of Thamud. The Quran points out that Thamud `hewed out in the mountains, houses with great skill`(chapter 26 : 149). The Quran makes mention of the people of Thamud with considerable amount of details in several chapters.

al-ula (dedan), saudi arabia
Sandstone mountain in Ula [003]

Last summer holiday, I set for Madain Salih with two friends. We left Medina at 10.00 am, stopped at Khaybar to have lunch and reached Ula at 2.30 pm.

al-Ula (dedan), Saudi Arabia
An old building in Ula [006]

There is an archaeological museum in Ula. Unfortunately it was closed. Later I come to know that it is opened from 8.30 am till 2.30 pm from Saturday to Wednesday.

Malik Saoud Institute of archeological research in Ula (dedan)
Malik Saoud institute of archaeological research in Ula [007]

Early next morning we left our hotel for Mada`in Saleh. It took us some 20 minutes to reach there. At the gate of the site we were asked to submit our pass permit.

At the gate you will see a signboard like this :

Instruction signboard at madain saleh
Instruction signboard, Madain Saleh [008]

There is also a signboard having a map of Madain Saleh, illustrating its various locations.

Dwellings and Tombs at Meda`in Salih
The inside of one of the dwellings and tombs at Madain Saleh [275]

thamud dwellings and nabataean tombs at qasr al bint, Madain Saleh
One of the massive façade of a tomb at Qasr al-Bint [009]

Many of the tombs and dwellings at Madain Saleh are surprisingly still in good condition and are really stunning.

The façades of their dwellings are carved out from the mountains. Just above almost all the gates there are various decorations namely; eagles and snakes. The inside of their dwellings are not identical as if they were built for different purposes. Some are small with low ceiling while others are more spacious.

Nowadays many of the dwellings and tombs need stairs to reach.

Partly damaged dwelling of Thamoud at Madain Saleh
 A partly damaged dwelling [443]

meeting place of the nabataean at Medain Saleh
Al-Diwan [010]

This is probably one of their meeting place, place of worship or dining room. It measures approximately 13 meters in length, 10 meters in width with a height of 8 meters.

Thamud dwellings at Mada`in Saleh
The inside of this dwelling is peculiar and different from the others, Madain Saleh [011]

There is a region at Madain Saleh where there are wells, however, this area was not accessible to visitors on my visit to Madain Saleh.


OTTOMAN RUINS IN MEDINA – The city of Medina, which was once under the Ottoman sovereign,

still have remains of the Ottoman Empire.

A little further from Nabawi mosque lies the Hejaz railway station.

Hejaz railway station in Medina - picture
Hejaz railway station in Medina  [206]

The railway station in Medina was linked to several other stations till Damascus which covers some 1760 kilometers.

This railway was constructed by Sultan `Abd al-Hamid khan the Second and was completed in 1908.

It was operated mainly to transport Muslim pilgrims from the capital of the Ottoman Empire in Turkey to the holy cities of Makkah and Medina.

wagons of the Turkish railway
One of the wagons of the Ottoman railway, Medina [070]

During world war I, the Hejaz railway was destroyed by a sabotage campaign launched by Lawrence of Arabia, 10 years after its opening.

Signboard at Hijaz railway station in Madina
Signboard at Hejaz Railway Station in Medina[187]

The Hejaz railway station in Madina cannot be visited at the moment apparently because of a project of restoration of this ruin.

Hijaz railway bridge in Madina - image
Hejaz railway bridge partly submerged in water, Medina [442]

Hejaz railway bridge in Medina crossed over Wadi Aqeeq. The above picture depicts the bridge partly submerged in water after a heavy rainfall. Nowadays, this bridge is completely destroyed.

Masjid Rambariy, a turkish mosque
Rambariy Mosque [071]

Next to the Hejaz railway station is Rambariy Mosque, built by the Ottoman.

Othoman fortress in Medina - picture
A turkish fortress in Medina [072]

This is an Ottoman fortress comprising of several storeys located between the Prophet`s mosque and Quba Mosque.

Turkish ruins on the hill Sila`, Medina
Othoman ruins on the hill Sila`, Medina [207]