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Zubaida Trail, An Ancient International Road to Makkah.

8/6/2018 12:00:00 AM   |      |   

Zubaida Trail, An Ancient International Road to Makkah.

Saudi Arabia is rich with a large number of historic trails the inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula traveled along before and after Islam.

However, Zubaida Trail remains one of its most famous trails because of its monuments that are still found today. This has earned its registration in the UNESCO World Heritage List, among 10 sites the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) asked to register, based on the Royal approval on Oct. 10, 2014.

Zubaida Trail, or Al-Kufi pilgrimage route, runs from Kufa in Iraq to Makkah, passing through the north of the Kingdom and its center.

It stretches more than 1,400 km in the Kingdom and passes through the following five areas: Northern Borders Region, Ha’il, Al-Qassim, Madinah and Makkah.

The trail was listed among the projects of the Two Holy Mosques program to care for the Kingdom’s cultural heritage, executed by the SCTH among its initiatives in the National Transformation Program.

Zubaida Trail was named after Zubaydah bin Jafar, wife of the Abbasid Caliph Harun Al-Rashid for her charitable work, in addition to the number of stations she ordered to be established along the trail.

Zubaida Trail was a trade route in the pre-Islamic era, but its importance increased with the dawn of Islam and it flourished during the time of the early caliphate. According to the report by the SCTH, the trail reached its peak during the Abbasid Caliphate between the years 750 and 1258, when the road and pavements were installed.

Stations were also installed, wells, pools and dams were established and houses were built. Twenty-seven major stations have been identified, most importantly Al-Sheihiyat, Al-Jumaima, Faid, Al-Rabadha, That-Erq and Khuraba.

The trail has an outstanding universal value; it embodies the cultural importance of exchanges and multidimensional dialogues between countries. It gathered many Muslim pilgrims from different races and regions, and religious, cultural and scientific exchanges started between people from around the world.

The trail also highlights interactions in terms of locations and times from the pre-Islamic era until the end of the Abbasid Caliphate era in the 13th century.

Many historians, geographers and travelers have written about Zubaida Trail. Some of the most notable ones are: Ibn Khordadbeh, ibn Rustah, Al-Yaqoobi, Al-Maqdisi, Al-Hamdani, Ibn Jubayr and Ibn Battuta. The trail also attracted a number of Western travelers who walked along it and wrote about it during the 19th and 20th century.

According to historical sources, this trail aimed to “serve pilgrims from Baghdad” which was the capital of Abbasid Caliphate to Makkah, enrich cultures and commercial exchange at the time with a length spanning 1,400 km. Markers were placed along the road to guide pilgrims. Pools were also installed to smartly gather water in carefully chosen locations along the distances to provide pilgrims with water.

The trail runs through a number of mountains, highlands and depressions and was mentioned in the books of geographers, ancient travelers from Muslims and other religions. It was mentioned by Finnish Georg Wallin and Anne Blunt in Blunt’s book “A Pilgrimage to Nejd” and while some monuments of this trail have disappeared, some ruins are still found today.

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