Jizan Province

A unique dream place in the Kingdom

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Jizan Province is like no other in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is indeed exceptional as much as it is an exception in several regards.


First of all, in a country where the stereotype landscape is an endless extent of sand dunes, Jizan is all about tall green mountains, deep blue sea, virgin islands, and pristine beaches. Jizan and Al-Bahah, the two smallest provinces in Saudi Arabia, are also the only two ones where no desert sand dunes can be found. Instead, Jizan Province has only low white sand dunes along its shore.

One of the 84 islands of Farasan Archipelago (Photo: Florent Egal)

One of the 84 islands of Farasan Archipelago (Photo: Florent Egal)

Then, in a country whose climate is so arid that despite its vast territory has no permanent river reaching the sea, Jizan Province benefits from the monsoon which gives two rainy seasons annually where most of the country has barely one. Thanks to these special climatic conditions and its geography, Jizan Province hosts green wadis, like the famous Wadi Lajab, and also several hot springs, like Bani Malik and Al-Khoubah, that are reputed for their therapeutic qualities. It is also famous for its high-quality production of tropical fruits like mango, figs, and papaya.

Jizan Province has an incredible variety of climates. As the most southerly province of Saudi Arabia the temperatures in the Tihama plain along the Red Sea are hot all year long, whereas in most of other provinces it cools down dramatically in winter, especially a night. Then in its high mountains, which are part of the famous Sarawat range that runs parallel to the western coast of the Arabian Peninsula, the temperature is cool all year long.

A traveler roaming in Jizan Province can encounter the famous "flower men" in their traditional dresses holding the typical dagger called jambiyah and wearing garlands of flowers on their heads.

History of Jizan Province

The history of Jizan Province is strongly linked to its strategic location close to the straight of Bab Al-Mandel which is the natural "locker" of the Red Sea as it is the only access to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

Pieces of pottery dating back to the Bronze Age have been found in a site located 40 kilometers to the south of Jizan City called Sihi that present similarities with other pieces found not only along the Tihama coastal plain to Aden but also in Nubia, showing that since early times people were not only traveling along the Arabian coast but also across the Red Sea between Africa and Arabia.

It is thanks to the development of the trade in the Red Sea and inland between southern Arabia and the surrounding empires (Nubian, Egyptian, Roman, Persian, and even Indian,...) that kingdoms were born here.

It is believed that during the 10th century BCE the Phonicean King Hiram of Tyre and King Solomon, son of David, initiated trade in the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aqaba to the kingdom of Saba'. The shore of today's Jizan Province represents the northern part of the coast of this ancient kingdom.

Map of ancient kingdoms of Yemen and Aksum around 230 CE

Map of ancient kingdoms of Yemen and Aksum around 230 CE

After Roman troops conquered the Egyptian Empire in 30 BCE they used their unmatched mastery of sailing techniques to develop dramatically the maritime trade in the Red Sea to such a extend that the inland trade through the Arabian Peninsula shrank within the next decades. The Roman author Strabo related that during the seventh year after the conquest of Egypt there were as many as 200 boats leaving from the Egyptian ports in the direction of India in order to come back with spices and other precious commodities of the time.

Latin inscription in Farasan Al-Kabir (photo from F. Villeneuve)

Latin inscription in Farasan Al-Kabir (photo from F. Villeneuve)

Today's Jizan Province, with its strategic location, played an important role in this trade. Indeed, in order to secure the maritime roads the Romans sent a military detachment to Farasan Islands, where they settled and ensured wrought control over piracy.

A Latin inscription found in the island of Farasan Al-Kabir was carved by Roman legionnaires as a dedication on a monument that mentions the Roman Emperor Antonius the Pious dated approximately 144 CE.

In 630 CE, Mohamed the Prophet of Islam sent his cousin Ali to Sana'a in Yemen which was for more than half a century under Persian Sassanid rule. The following year, which is known as the Year of Delegations, some major tribes of Yemen sent representatives to Medina and accepted Islam as their new religion. Therefore the whole south of the Arabian Peninsula, including today's Jizan Province, became part of the Muslim Empire as early as the 7th century CE.

In the beginning of the 16th century the whole western part of the Arabian Peninsula was conquered by the Ottomans. In order to keep control on the coast they built forts all along the 2000 kilometers of Red Sea coast, including two places in Jizan Province: the Dosrih fort and a small one in Farasan Islands, where they also left some brilliant examples of their rich and refined architecture.

Turkish Fort in Farasan Al-Kebir (photo: Florent Egal)

Turkish Fort in Farasan Al-Kebir (photo: Florent Egal)

The strategic location of Jizan Province, and especially Farasan Islands, proved to be still of interest in the 20th century as during World War 2 the Germans built a fort on one of the islands of the archipelago.

German Fort built during World War 2 in Farasan Archipelago (photo: Florent Egal)

German Fort built during World War 2 in Farasan Archipelago (photo: Florent Egal)

Places to visit in Jizan Province

Here are the places you can't miss in Jizan Province:

Farasan Islands
The jewel of the Red Sea (author: Florent Egal, with inputs from Villeneuve François. Une inscription latine sur l'archipel Farasân,[...]
Jebel Al-Qahar – Wadi Lajab
The miracle of Sarawat Mountains (author: Florent Egal)[...]
Jebel Fayfa
The neighbor of the moon (author: Florent Egal)[...]

Tours organizing trips in Jizan Province

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A unique dream place in the Kingdom (author: Florent Egal)

About the Author

My name is Florent Egal, I am a French national living in Riyadh since January 2010. After six years of exploration of Saudi Arabia I have decided to show with this website that KSA has much more to offer than the stereotype landscape of empty extends of sand dunes. I hope that after reading through these pages people will feel the same willingness and amazement than I have to discover this fascinating country