Al Hassa Oasis, October, 1993

Al Hassa is known for its palm trees and dates. With over two million palm trees it’s an amazing view from on top of the Jabal Qara caves. This is a tourist site where we had an opportunity to explore the outdoor park and the Jabal Qara caves.

The Jabal Qara caves are also referred to as the Ali Baba caves – one of the popular folktales in the Arabian Nights.

This was a planned day trip, on a weekend, from Al-Khobar to Al Hassa and Al Hofuf with a couple co-workers. Al Hassa is located about 60km inland from the coast of the Persian Gulf and my residence in the city of Al Khobar.

The temperature in Al Hassa in October is high, ~45 degrees celsius, relative to my reference of the west coast of Canada. Another consideration for this trip is that the entire journey is through desert with no options for refilling water bottles or refueling the car. It was a relatively short distance, but we likely did not have enough water to hike out if we experienced car trouble. At the time I was more concerned with the danger due to the very high speed of travelers on the highway and we had been warned that highway robbery was active in the area.

Al Hassa is a wonder, and possibly one of the most important oases’ in Saudi Arabia. Due to the abundance of fresh-water springs at the oasis, the area has been inhabited since prehistoric times.

Oil was discovered in 1938 in Saudi Arabia, and today the Al Hassa area is home to the largest conventional oil field in the world. Al Hofuf City, located 16km west of the Al Hassa Oasis, is the major urban centre in the region. We visited both the Al Hassa Oasis and Al Hofuf during our day trip.

The Jabal Qara Caves are the feature of a visitation centre which includes an outdoor park area, and information on the oasis and palm trees. The intricate cave system was developed from sandstone, marl and clay. The caves are different from anything I have experienced in size, shape, and colour. A key difference is that the cave system does not have features such as stalactites and stalagmites. The caves are clean with only wind-blown dust.

There is no fee to gain access to the site and we met with a small number of other visitors.

Looking back, this day trip was a highlight of my time in Saudi Arabia.

The photos were taken with an old 35mm camera and I’m uploading pictures as I sort and scan the negatives.

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