Qassim Province

A land of tradition, agriculture, and wealth

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Unlike other Saudi provinces  Qassim does not carry the name of its capital but its own name that is derived from the word qassimah (قصيمة) a reference to qassa'm al-ghadha (قصائم الغضا), meaning the region's sand dunes where the white saxaul trees grow.

Qassim is famous for its rich agriculture and its vibrant traditional heritage that is reflected in his architecture and celebrated in its numerous festivals.

Qassim festival (photo: Florent Egal)

Qassim festival (photo: Florent Egal)

In Qassim the tradition is first and foremost expressed through religion as the province is famous for being the most conservative of the Kingdom. A foreign traveler in Qassim has to be aware of local customs and abide by the rules in order not to hurt the feelings of the inhabitants.

Another characteristic of Qassim is less well-known, the fact that it is the richest Saudi province per capita.

Qassim agriculture

Although Qassim has a typical desert climate its underground water has allowed the inhabitants to develop a long lasting tradition of agriculture. This underground water was brought through centuries by the Wadi Rummah, a valley crosses the entire region from the west to the northeast. It is the longest wadi in the whole Arabian Peninsula that stretches for about 600 kilometers from Madinah Province until the dunes of the Nafud Ath-Thuayrat.

Qassim date festival (photo: Alastair Culham)

Qassim date festival (photo: Alastair Culham)

Qassim's agriculture is all represented by the most iconic Arabian delicacy: the date. Indeed the province hosts more than eight million palm trees, making it one of the Middle-East largest producers of dates, with annual harvests reaching over 200 thousand tons of various types of luxury dates. This production gives the region a high economic value by exporting large amounts of dates nationally and internationally. This iconic fruit is even celebrated at Hasat Antarah, the date city, and during the Buraidah date festival.

Saudis like to break their fast with dates (photo courtesy of kufarooq12)

Saudis like to break their fast with dates (photo courtesy of kufarooq12)

Traders at the Buraidah Date Festival (photo courtesy of the Arab News)

Traders at the Buraidah Date Festival (photo courtesy of the Arab News)

The region also produces grapes, lemons, grapefruits, mandarin oranges, oranges, pomegranates, and a large group of vegetables.

History of Qassim Province

The Wadi Al-Rummah that crosses Qassim Province is supposed to be the place where rests Hujr bin Amr, leader of the legendary Kinda tribe and the first king to unify central Arabia. His grandson Imru Al-Qais, the famous Arab poet, repeatedly mentioned Unaizah in his poems as a desert watering hole.

Another Qassim oasis, Al-Jiwa, which lays about 60 km north of Unzaizah, has kept some tracks of ancient  times. In addition to Thamudic inscriptions found in that area, the name of Al-Jiwa was mentioned by the heroic poet Antarah bin Shaddad. A rock at Al-Jiwa has kept tracks of this past with old inscriptions and a legend that says that it was the meeting place of the hero Antarah and his beloved Ablah

Sakhrat Antarah (photo: AzizRP)

Sakhrat Antarah (photo: AzizRP)

At the beginning of the 9th century CE, the Abbasid princess Zubaydah, wife of the Caliph Harun Al-Rashid led a project to build a series of wells, reservoirs and artificial pools that provided water for Muslim pilgrims along the pilgrimage route between Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid Empire, and Mekkah. Due to its location in central Arabia Al-Qassim became an important stopover on the pilgrimage road. It had pilgrims foyers in many of the region's cities including Unzaizah.

Al-Margab watchtower (photo: www.oyoonjiwa.com)

Al-Margab watchtower (photo: www.oyoonjiwa.com)

The Al Abu Olayan - dynasty from the Banu Tamim tribe - established the emirate of Buraydah in the late 16th century CE by its leader, Rashid Al Duraiby. He built the city of Buraydah and made it the province's capital.

In the beginning of the 19th century CE Yahia bin Sulaim ousted the Ottoman ruler of Unaizah and installed Al-Sulaim dynasty. The bin Rashid from Hail took the city at the end of the same century but Abdulaziz Al-Sulaim regained it and keep the control over even at the advent of the Saudi Kingdom thanks to the treaty he signed Abdulaziz Al-Saud.

Places to visit in Qassim Province

Buraidah Date Festival
Celebrating the most iconic delicacy of Arabia (author: Andy Conder)[...]
Qassim traditional heritage sites
An heritage made of traditions and poetry (author: Florent Egal)[...]
Uyun Al-Jiwa
An ancient oasis celebrated by Arab poets (author: Florent Egal)[...]

Tours organizing trips to Qassim Province

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A land of tradition, agriculture, and wealth (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