Petroglyphs – Al Ula

Al Hijr or Madain Saleh is located 22 kilometers to the north-east of Al Ula municipality of the province Al Madina in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at latitude 4726 north and longitude 5337 east, and it was called Al Hijr since the ancient times. It occupies a strategic position on the ancient trade route that links the southern Arabia, Mesopotamia, Levant, and Egypt.

Madain Saleh is an ancient pre-Islamic archeological site in Saudi Arabia. It was the land of Thamud in the Wadi Al Qura, “Valley of Villages”, lying between Madina and Tabuk. The site was mentioned in Torah (the old statement) of the Holy Bible, and the Holy Quran with reference to Prophet Saleh (PBUH).

In 2008, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee (WHC) agreed on Madain Saleh site to join the World Heritage List.

Nabataeans were the first inhabitants who settled in Madain Saleh, were the original builders of it. They had originated from the Arabian Peninsula. Historian Dedor Al Saqali states that, the Nabataeans were a nomadic shepherd tribe, who did not know the art of Agriculture and that their land was mostly rocky and rugged, unfit for a sedentary life.


We were all very excited to witness this historical place and got up early packed our stuff and set off for Madain Saleh archeological site. What a bummer!! There was a big bill board smiling at us:

“CLOSED FOR RENOVATION” hmmm! Better luck next time

Disappointed and angry, we set off to our next destination the site of petroglyphs, wow this might cheer everyone up. Saudi Arabia’s dazzling desert is brimming with records created by ancient artists on the sandstone cliffs. We went to three sites and all were replete with the remains of the mastery of that era’s artists. How amazing! It made me think that with the advent of modern day technology are we going back to that period of time??

The emoji’s and emoticons are the petroglyphs of the modern world.



Published by Raazia Ali

A Geophysicist and an educator by profession and a photographer and a writer by choice. Photography is like capturing a time capsule and re-living it again and again. It creates memories full of emotions, love, passion, and nature around you. If you pick a photograph from the past it takes you back in time and you can see how time has shaped us and our surroundings.

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