Najran City

A city of traditions and ancient History


The Arabic term Najran has at least two meanings. It means both the wooden frame on which a door opens and also "thirsty". Local tradition also has it that the land derived its name from the first man to settle in the area, Najran ibn Zaydan ibn Saba ibn Yahjub ibn Yarub ibn Qahtan.

Al-Ukhdood archaeological site

The oasis city of Najran was a major trade center at least since the 8th century BCE until the 1st century CE. The large archeological site of Al-Ukhdood on the south of the modern city testifies of this rich past. The name of Al-Ukhdood, which means the ditch (or trench) in Arabic, comes from the Surah Al-Burooj of the Quran which praises a group of believers who were burnt alive by the "People of the Ditch" (in Arabic "Ashab Al-Ukhdood") because they refuse to renounce to their believe in God.

Al-Ukhdood archeological site in Najran City (photo: Florent Egal)

Al-Ukhdood archeological site in Najran City (photo: Florent Egal)

Cursed were the companions of the trench / [Containing] the fire full of fuel, / When they were sitting near it / And they, to what they were doing against the believers, were witnesses. / And they resented them not except because they believed in Allah, the Exalted in Might, the Praiseworthy, / To whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. And Allah, over all things, is Witness.​

Quran, Surat Al-Burooj, 85:4-9

The city is famous as well for its two palaces, Emarah and Al-Aan, inevitable landmarks and brilliant examples of the traditional architecture of the Province.

Emarah Palace

The Emarah Palace is located in the center of the city of Najran. It was built on the site of an ancient well in 1944 (1363 H), few years after the Province joined the Saudi Kingdom.

Its first purpose was to host the new governor and its companions, but also the telegraph post and the police.

It is surely the most sizeable historical building of the Province with its 625 square meters and 65 rooms.

It is open to public and comprise as well a museum telling the story of the Palace.

Emarah Palace in Najran city (photo: Florent Egal)

Emarah Palace in Najran city (photo: Florent Egal)

Al-Aan Palace

The Al-Aan Palace, also known as Se'dan Palace, was built in 1688 (1100 H) by Ismail Al-Makrami. It comprises four storeys, a court and several secondary buildings.

Its location on a peak on the northen side of the Wadi Najran is not only strategical as it dominates the oasis but is also offer a stunning view point on the valley and the surrounding mountains.​

Al-Aan Palace (photo: Florent Egal)

Al-Aan Palace (photo: Florent Egal)

As-Safa park and Ra'um Castle

The city has several parks like the As-Safa one to the west of the city which covers an area of about 5 squared kilometers and is surrounded on the east by the Najran valley and on the south by a granite mount on top of which was built the Ra'um Castle.

View on the As-Safa park from the Al-Aan Place (photo: Florent Egal)

View on the As-Safa park from the Al-Aan Place (photo: Florent Egal)

A city of traditions and ancient History (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

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