Al Jouf - Saudi Arabia

Al Jouf formed a cultural bridge between other empires and the Arabian Peninsula. In Dumat al-Jundal, the ancient capital, you can almost trip over history. The region is the largest olive producer in the world and is also called "the granary of Saudi Arabia.

Al Jouf is located in the far north of Saudi Arabia. The region was traversed by a series of trade routes, collectively known as the Incense Route, and for centuries formed a cultural bridge between other empires and the Arabian Peninsula. Overland travelers descending south simply could not avoid Al Jouf. Archaeological discoveries were made in the rolling desert, proving that the region was already inhabited in the Stone Age. Later, the Romans, for example, also left their traces in Al Jouf.

Dumat al-Jundal, the ancient capital of Al Jouf, is a place not to be missed. You will almost trip over history there. Stroll through the sand-colored ruins of the Al Dar'i Quarter, the Old City, and marvel at the early Islamic architecture of the Omar Bin Al Khattab Mosque.

The Marid Castle is only eight meters high, but equally impressive. According to experts, this defensive structure was built by the Nabataeans, the people who were also responsible for the Jordanian desert city of Petra and Hegra, the undiscovered alternative to Petra in Saudi Arabia. The walled structure has four intact towers and two wells. In 2018, the government unveiled plans to restore Marid Castle.

Want to learn more about the region's rich past? The Al Jouf Museum is filled to the top with historical artifacts, photographs, paintings and other items. Information in the museum is also available in English.

He who sows shall reap

Al Jouf is also known as "the granary of Saudi Arabia. Many of the laws of nature that apply elsewhere in the country do not apply here; Al Jouf boasts a temperate climate, fertile soil and abundant groundwater reserves.

The vast majority of Al Jouf's half-million inhabitants work in agriculture. Tabarjal is the agricultural heart of the region. If you view the town's surroundings on an online satellite map, the hundreds of perfectly round "crop circles" immediately catch your eye. A fine example of outdoor art.

The fields are watered from the center with water harvested deep underground and dating back to the last Ice Age. The otherwise barren desert landscape is thus colored by some thirty million olive, date and fruit trees, combined with wheat, barley and vegetables. Some of these fields have a perimeter of up to three kilometers.

The liquid gold of Al Jouf

If you thought olive oil is only made in the Mediterranean, you are wrong. With its three thousand small and medium-sized olive groves, Al Jouf is the largest olive producer in the world. The twisted trees thrive extremely well in the temperate climate, in temperatures that drop to freezing in winter.

Got the olive flavor? Then continue your Olive Trail with a visit to one of the 23 olive presses and many packing and distribution centers. In the Western world, we have slowly lost connection with our food. Once you have experienced the olive oil production process up close, and seen the effort and craft involved, you will look at the bottle of olive oil in your kitchen with renewed appreciation - and use it even more sparingly.

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