Al-Ahsa Oasis UNESCO Site
In the eastern Arabian Peninsula, the Al-Ahsa Oasis is a serial property comprising gardens, canals, springs, wells and a drainage lake, as well as historical buildings, urban fabric and archaeological sites. They represent traces of continued human settlement in the Gulf region from the Neolithic to the present, as can be seen from remaining historic fortresses, mosques, wells, canals and other water management systems. With its 2.5 million date palms, it is the largest oasis in the world. Al-Ahsa is also a unique geocultural landscape and an exceptional example of human interaction with the environment.
World’s largest oasis famous for date production. Al-Ahsa is a plural word of “Al-Ḥisā” (Arabic: ٱلْحِسَى) which refers to the accumulated sand with an impermeable layer underneath. Thus, when rain comes down, the water will soak through the sand, protected from evaporation by the sand, and be retained by the base layer, forming an aquifer. Hence, the site would become when drilled like a sweet cold spring. Al-Ahsa has been inhabited since prehistoric times, due to its abundance of water in an otherwise arid region. Natural fresh-water springs have surfaced at oases in the region for millennia, encouraging human habitation and agricultural efforts since prehistoric times.
A desert oasis of shady palm groves and crystal clear springs, Al Ahsa Oasis stands as a dazzling haven against the harsh and untamed plains of the Rub’ Al Khali (Empty Quarter). For millennia, this region’s fertile land made it a hub for traders and caravans crossing the region’s ancient trade routes, forging links across the Arabian Peninsula and beyond, and providing a stopping place for early pilgrims en route to Makkah.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site – a nod to the city’s many archaeological landmarks, which show traces of human settlement all the way back to the Neolithic period – Al Ahsa Oasis is rapidly gaining appeal as one of Saudi Arabia’s most captivating tourist destinations.