1. Hejaz

The Hejaz (Arabic: al-Ḥijāz, lit. 'the Barrier'), is a region in the west of present-day Saudi Arabia.

The region is so called as it separates the land of the Najd in the east from the land of Tihāmah in the west. It is also known as the "Western Province." It is bordered on the west by the Red Sea, on the north by Jordan, on the east by the Najd, and on the south by Asir Region.

Its largest city is Jeddah, but it is probably better known for the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina. As the site of the two holiest sites in Islam, the Hejaz has significance in the Arab and Islamic historical and political landscape.

Historically, the Hejaz has always seen itself as separate from the rest of Saudi Arabia.

The Hejaz is the most populated region in Saudi Arabia; 35% of all Saudis live there. Hejazi Arabic is the most widely spoken dialect in the region. Saudi Hejazis are of ethnically diverse origins. The Hejaz is the most cosmopolitan region in the Arabian Peninsula.

People of Hejaz have the most strongly articulated identity of any regional grouping in Saudi Arabia. Their place of origin alienates them from the Saudi state, which invokes different narratives of the history of the Arabian Peninsula. Thus, Hejazis experienced tensions with people of Najd.

2. Al-Ḥijr Archaeological Site

Saudi Arabia's first World Heritage Site that was recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is that of al-Ḥijr.

The name "al-Ḥijr" (Arabic: "The Land of Stones" or "The Rocky Place") occurs in the Quran, and the site is known for having structures carved into rocks. Construction of the structures is credited to the people of Thamūd.

The location is also called "Madā’in Ṣāliḥ" (Arabic: lit. 'Cities of Saleh'), as it is speculated to be the city in which the Islamic Nabī (Prophet) Saleh was sent to the people of Thamūd.

After the disappearance of Thamūd from Madā’in Ṣāliḥ, it came under the influence of other people, such as the Nabataeans, whose capital was Petra. Later, it would lie in a route used by Muslim Pilgrims going to Mecca.

3. Era of Abraham and Ismā‘īl

According to Arab and Islamic sources, the civilization of Mecca started after Ibrāhīm (Arabic: Abraham) brought his son Ismā‘īl (Hebrew: Ishmael) and wife Hājar (Hebrew: Hagar) here, for the latter two to stay.

Some people from the Tribe of Jurhum settled with them, and Ismā’īl reportedly married 2 women, one after divorcing another, at least one of them from this tribe,

and helped his father to construct or re-construct the Kaaba (Arabic: lit. 'Cube'), which would have social, religious, political and historical implications for the site and region.

For example, in Arab or Islamic belief, the tribe of Quraysh has descended from Ismā’īl ibn Ibrahim, has been based in the vicinity of the Kaaba,

and include Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Abdul-Muttalib ibn Hāshim ibn Abd Manāf (c. 464–497) - the great-grandfather of the Islamic prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and the progenitor of the Banu Hāshim clan of the Quraysh tribe in Mecca.

From the Period of Jāhiliyyah ('Ignorance') to the days of Muhammad, the often-warring Arab tribes would cease their hostilities during the time of Pilgrimage, and go on pilgrimage to Mecca, as inspired by Ibrāhīm.

It was during such an occasion that Muhammad (ﷺ) met some Medinans who would allow him to migrate to Medina, to escape persecution by his opponents in Mecca.

4. Era of Muhammad ()

As the land of Mecca and Medina, the Hejaz was where Muhammad () was born, and where he founded a Monotheistic Ummah (Community) of followers, bore patience with his foes or struggled against them, migrated from one place to another, preached or implemented his beliefs, lived and died.

Given that he had both followers and enemies here, a number of battles or expeditions were carried out in this area, like those of al-Aḥzāb (Arabic: "the Confederates", Battle of the Trench), Badr and Hunayn.

They involved both Meccan companions, such as Hamzah ibn Abdul Muttalib, Ubaydah ibn al-Harith and Saʿd ibn Abī Waqqās, and Medinan companions.

The Hejaz fell under Muhammad's influence as he emerged victorious over his opponents, and was thus a part of his empire.

5. Subsequent history

Due to the presence of the two holy cities in the Hejaz, the region was ruled by numerous empires.

The Hejaz was at the centre of the Rashidun Caliphate, in particular whilst its capital was Medina from 632 to 656 ACE.

The region was then under the control of regional powers such as Egypt and the Ottoman Empire, throughout much of its later history.

6. Brief independence

In 1916, Sharif Ḥusayn ibn Alī al-Hāshimī (1853–1931) proclaimed himself King of an independent Hejaz, as a result of the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence.

The ensuing Arab Revolt overthrew the Ottoman Empire.
In 1924, however, Ibn Alī's authority was replaced by that of Ibn Saud of the Najd.

7. In modern Saudi Arabia

At first, Ibn Saud ruled the 2 as separate units, though they became known as the Kingdom of Hejaz and Najd. Later they were formally combined as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

8. Cities

Al-Bāḥah Region:

=> al-Bāḥah

Al Madinah Region:

=> Medina (Al-Madīnah Al-Munawwarah‎)
=> Badr
=> Yanbu al-Baḥr (Yanbu)

Makkah Province:

=> at-Tā'if
=> Jeddah
=> Mecca (Makkah)
=> Rabigh

Tabouk Region:

=> Tabouk

9. Geography

The region is located along the Red Sea Rift. It is also known for its darker, more volcanic sand.

Depending on the previous definition, the Hejaz includes the high mountains of Sarawā, which topographically separate the Najd from Tihāmah.

10. International standard resort

As a component of Saudi Vision 2030, a beach resort is proposed to be built on the Red Sea between the towns of Umluj and al-Wajh, in the northern section of the Hejazi coast:

The resort project will involve "50 islands and 34,000 square kilometres in a global upmarket tourism and leisure mega-development," and will be "governed by laws on par with international standards."

11. People of the Hejaz

People of Hejaz, who feel particularly connected to the holy places of Mecca and Medina, have probably the most strongly articulated identity of any regional grouping in Saudi Arabia.

The people of Hejaz have never fully accommodated to Saudi rule and their Wahhabi religion. They continue to be Sunni of Mālikī rite with a Shia minority in the cities of Medina, Mecca and Jeddah.

Many consider themselves more cosmopolitan because Hejaz was for centuries a part of the great empires of Islam from the Umayyads to the Ottomans.