Last weekend ME and I went on a day trip to Hofuf. Hofuf is 95 miles southwest of Al khobar. It is 50 miles off the Gulf coast and is part of the Al-Ahsa/Al-Hasa oasis the largest oasis in the world. Hofuf has been inhabited since prehistoric times, due to the abundance of natural fresh-water. Because of its location Hofuf was an ancient caravan stop for traders and pilgrimages traveling to Mecca.
The Jawatha Masque, located just outside of Hofuf, built in 629AD, was the first mosque built in the Eastern Province, it has been called the third holiest site in Islam. It is in ruins now but Friday prayer services are still held to this day.
Al-Ahsa is a major agricultural area having 50,000 acres irrigated by underground wells and fountains. The area boasts over 3 million date palms that produce a half million tons of dates each year. Some of the finest dates in the world.
Putting it on the map, click on Hofuf with Al Khobar
The morning drive started out very winding. It was not overcast just dull from all the dust and sand being kicked up by the wind. For the first 10 miles driving out of Al khobar there was nothing but construction, road improvements, new compounds, power plants and factories being built. The activity was all very impressive. Beyond that the flat rocky desert took over and the scenery remained the same until we got close to Hofuf and rocky hills started to appear in the landscape.
Our first stop was the camel, sheep and goat market just outside of Hofuf. Our visit was on a Saturday morning and not much was happening. The big day is every Thursday morning starting at 6am.
Next we went to the Qasr Ibrahim, a castle built in 1555 by the Ottoman Governor of that time. It combines both Islamic and military architecture. It has been used as a fort, jail and Turkish bath and has a unique mosque.
After lunch we went to the Jebal Al-Qara (mountian)and the Al-Qara caves. The mountain (really a hill) stands in the middle of the oasis and has a wonderful view of the thousands of acres of palms. The cave was very interesting, as you approached the entrance you could feel this very pleasant cool air coming from the inside. The temperature in the cave remains the same throughout the year, cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Our last stop was the Qaysariyah Souq, where we bought some souvenirs.