City - Najran
Najran, the capital of the Najran region of Saudi Arabia, is just north of Yemen. Designated as a New Town by the Saudi Government in 1965, it is one of the Kingdom’s most modern cities. Its fast-growing population, as of 2004, was 246,880. Najran is a tourist city known for its mild climate and abundant fruits, and for its beautiful gardens, public parks, and popular folklore and dance festivals. The history of Najran can be traced back 4000 years. It was a prosperous trading city in the first and second centuries BCE. It once had a Jewish community that dated back to the destruction of the Second temple in 70 CE, and a Christian community with close connections to Byzantium and Abyssinia. It was a center of arms manufacture during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad.
Najran has great archaeological significance. The Najran dam, with its breathtaking views on both sides, is a popular tourist attraction. The Najran Fort, a large, sand covered fortress in nearby Al Okhdoo—complete with mud-brick fortifications, turrets, and crenellations—is one of the major monuments of the Asir region. The fort’s original high perimeter walls were built with giant stones similar to those of the Egyptian pyramids. Also in Al-Ukhdood is a museum that displays ancient carvings, human bones, and a bronze lion’s head. Najran’s landmarks include the “Rass” stone, a giant granite stone that stands almost seven feet high.
Najran has six hospitals, and many sports centers and complexes, including the Al-Okdod Football Club, the Al-Khalidyyah Sports Center, and the Prince Mishal Sports Center. Najran is served by several airports; the closest are: The King Khalid International Airport in Rijadh, Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Doha International Airport in Qatar. There is daily bus service to Riyadh and Jeddah. Taxis are the best mode of transportation within the city itself. The Horizon Restaurant is a good place to find fast food in the local style. The dress code in Najran requires women to wear the abaya, a black overgarment, and prohibits men from wearing shorts.
Najran has a university, and international schools with opportunities for Western teachers. On the whole, it is an intriguing city for anyone who is interested in the history of Saudi Arabia—and motivated to explore some of the most fascinating archaeological treasures of the Kingdom.