Al-Ahsa Governorate

This article refers to the Saudi Arabian administrative unit sometimes called Al-Hasa. For the traditional oasis region of Al-Hasa, see: Al-Hasa. For other uses, see Al-Ahsa.
Al Ahsa
Al Ahsa
Coordinates: 25°23′N 49°36′E / 25.383°N 49.600°E / 25.383; 49.600Coordinates: 25°23′N 49°36′E / 25.383°N 49.600°E / 25.383; 49.600
Country Saudi Arabia
  Governor Badr Bin Muhammad Bin Abdullah Bin Jalawi Al Saud
  Total 534,000 km2 (206,000 sq mi)
Population (2010)
  Total 1,063,112
  Density 2.0/km2 (5.2/sq mi)

Al Ahsa (Arabic: الأحساء al-Aḥsāʾ, locally pronounced al-Ḥasāʾ) is the largest governorate in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, named after the Al-Ahsa oasis. The name Al-Ahsa is also given to the biggest city in the governorate, Hofuf. In Classical Arabic, Ahsa means the sound of water underground. It has one of the largest oases in the world with Date Palms known to be the best in the world, the oasis is located about 60 km inland from the Persian Gulf. All urban areas are located in the traditional oasis of Al-Hasa. In addition to the oasis, the county also includes the giant Empty Quarter desert, making it the largest governorate in Saudi Arabia in terms of area. The Empty Quarter has the world's largest oil fields and connects Saudi Arabia to Qatar, the UAE, and Oman. The Governorate's population is over 908,366 (2005 estimate).In the past, Al-Ahsa belonged to the historical region known as Bahrain, along with Qatif and the present-day Bahrain islands.

One campus of a major Saudi university, King Faisal University, founded in 1975, is located in Al-Ahsa with the faculties of agriculture, veterinary medicine and animal resources, with the other faculties in Dammam. The Hofuf campus also has facilities where Saudi women can study medicine, dentistry and home economics. A big branch of Arab Open University which is a private university is also located in Al-Ahsa.


Al-Ahsa has been inhabited since prehistoric times, due to its abundance of water.

627: Muhammad orders the Third Raid on Banu Thalabah in Al-Taraf, now part of the Al-Ahsa governorate.[1]

899: Al-Ahsa comes under control of the Qarmatian leader, Abu-Sa'id Jannabi, and is declared independent from the Abbasids of Baghdad. The capital is Al-Mu'miniya (near modern Hofuf).

1000: Al-Ahsa is among the 10 largest cities on earth, with 110,000 inhabitants.

1077: The Qarmatian state of Al-Ahsa is overthrown by the Uyunids.

1238: Usfurid dynasty takes over the region of Al-Ahsa and Al-Qatif.

1383: Usfurids are overthrown by the Jarwanids.

1440: The Jabrids take over Al-Ahsa, Qatif, Bahrain, and Kish Island, and extend their influence to eastern Nejd.

1521: Jabrid kingdom falls to the Muntafiq tribe of southern Iraq, who rule Al-Ahsa on behalf of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans station their garrisons in the region.

1670: the Ottomans are expelled by the tribe of Banu Khalid, who make their capital in Al-Mubarraz.

1795: Conquered by Saudi troops during the formation of the First Saudi State.

1818: Reconquered by the Ottoman Empire by Ottoman Egyptian forces overthrowing the First Saudi State in the process and granting the local tribe of Banu Khalid self-rule.

1830: Comes under the control of the Second Saudi State.

1871: The Second Saudi Dynasty loses the region to the Ottoman Empire again; however, this time it is directly ruled from Bagdad instead of by tribe of Banu Khalid under self-rule has had been the case in the past during Ottoman ownerships.

1913: King Abdulaziz Al Saud conquers Al-Ahsa Oasis, annexing it into his Kingdom of Najd. (This is recognised in the Treaty of Sèvres signed in 1920 with the other official partitionings of the Ottoman Empire.)

1932: Al-Ahsa becomes part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under the King Abdulaziz.

1930s: Huge petroleum deposits are discovered near Dammam, resulting in rapid modernization for the region.

Early 1960s: The oil fields in Al-Ahsa reach the production level of 1 million barrels per day.

Population and economy

According to 2005 estimate, Al-Ahsa has over 908,000 people. All are Muslims. Over the centuries, residents of the oasis have included the Banu Abdul Qays, the Banu Uqayl, and the Bani Khalid.

Oil production and agriculture are the two main economic activities of the Al-Ahsa. Al-Ahsa is the home of some of the richest oil fields in the world.

Natural fresh-water springs have surfaced in the region for millennia, encouraging human habitation and agricultural efforts (date palm cultivation especially) since prehistoric times. The Saudi Ministry of Agriculture established a factory to process its rich date harvest at the rate of five tons daily. Other components of its agricultural output include rice, corn, citrus, and other fruits. In addition, intensive livestock raising, involving thousands of sheep, goats, cattle and camels and more than 15 major poultry farms producing more than 100 million eggs a year, make Al-Ahsa one of the major food producers for the kingdom.

Manufacturing—both the traditional small-scale cottage industry kind (e.g. the traditional mislah mantle and pottery) and large-scale industries such as cement and plastics—has also been strongly encouraged

Palm trees in Al Ahsa

The Al-Ahsa region is boasting over 10 million palm trees. The Ministry of Agriculture has set up a factory to process its rich output of dates, amounting to five tons daily.

Main cities


Al-Ahsa is a large area where a lot of villages and small towns are located. The villages are normally grouped into two main groups according to their relative location to the oasis. Although the villages lack big markets and/or hospitals, there are few good polyclinics and small markets. You can find small bank branches and automated teller machines in many villages. Recently there have been a great improvement in road maintenance and re-construction of some main roads between villages and cities. Al-Ahsa has about 50 villages, following is a list of some according to their location:

Eastern Villages

Here is an incomplete list (population in 1997):

Northern Villages

Here is an incomplete list:

Associated Small Villages

Here is an incomplete list:


Al-Ahsa has a dry, tropical climate, with a five month summer and a relatively cold winter. It enjoys the benefit of copious reserves of underground water which has allowed the area to develop its agricultural potential. Nevertheless, Al-Ahsa has to deal with tons of sand which the wind carries and deposits over the land. To counter this problem, the Kingdom has planted large barriers of trees to prevent the wind-borne sand from damaging inhabited and agricultural areas.

Historical and Recreation Sites

The second oldest mosque in Islam, Jawatha Mosque, is reputed to be found here, as well, and several historic remnants of Ottoman Turkish influence can be seen in buildings such as Qasr Ibrahim and the Qasr Sahood. Many pictures of old Al-Ahsa and the Eastern Province were taken by the Danish explorer and convert to Islam Knud Holmboe (1902–1931) in his travels through the Middle East.

Here is a list of some historical and recreation sites:

Jawatha Mosque in Al-Ahsa
Uqair traditional building
Qasr Sahood in Al-Ahsa

See also


  1. Mubarakpuri, Saifur Rahman Al (2005), The Sealed Nectar, Darussalam Publications, p. 205


  1. ^ Riyadh Newspaper
  2. ^ Recreation Utilities in Al-Ahsa by Abdullah Al-Shayeb


External links

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