Al-Jawf, Saudi Arabia

There aren't many places in the World where you can still see 100 camels thundering across the desert at full gallop. Al-Jawf, a prosperous oasis north of the Great Nafud Desert in Saudi Arabia, is one. This multi-spectral terrain area is notable for its abundant agricultural underground water, making possible the cultivation of 200,000 Palm trees and 12 million Olive trees, as well as other agricultural products, in 16,000 farms and 1500 agricultural projects.

The history of Al-Jawf dates back more than 4000 years as it was an extremely important center and a summer camping ground for the nomads in ancient history. It was a confluence of various cultures. A political and commercial center of the early Arab tribes who were engaged in trade through Arabia and Yemen with Mesopotamia, Persia and the Levant using the oldest land route in recorded history. It has been said that enough has happened here to tell that Al-Jawf's weather-beaten, mud-brick ruins are "the richest historical site in Saudi Arabia".

Its strategic location resulted in impressive historic and prehistoric archaeological sites and monuments like the historic Za'bal Fort, which is a unique and popular site to visit and explore, Omar ibn Al-Khattab Mosque which is distinguished for its resilient and appealing high-rise minaret, the famous Kaf village that still maintains the ancient style of short mud houses, Marid Fortress which is a huge structure built of rough stone, and the Qadeer Palace which is known for stone inscriptions. There are also the ancient Al-Rajajil standing stones in Sakaka, dating back nearly 6,000 years.

Al-Rajajil Stones

During the Chalcolithic or Copper Age approximately 6000 years ago, the population of Al-Jawf laboriously erected 54 groups of squared-off stone pillars, some of which measured up to 3 meters in height. Called Al-Rajajil (which means "the men") today, the pillars appear to the casual observer to be randomly placed, although a bird's-eye view shows that they are placed in roughly parallel east-west lines.

Their significance is no more certain than that of the more famous megaliths at Stonehenge, or the dolmens of Jordan. Although archeologists believe they were used not only for religious purposes but also as a "meeting place for people from the surrounding areas, probably a political center".

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