Milestone 24 -Distance: 4,297.5 km (88.1%) 27 April 2021
Although there are no permanent rivers in KSA, in keeping with the similar land formations of many Arabic states, there are many river beds and valleys (wadis), some of which are to be found within the spine of the peaks along the west coast.
Following the curvature of the highlands there is a number of harrat, volcanic lava fields which are worth our viewing. KSA is also home to rawdah (meadows), which is where the name of the capital city Riyadh comes from due its location at the intersection of Wadis Hanifah and Al-Bathaʾ. The former is the most important and largest drainage basin in KSA at 2,500 square metres and is located in the Najd.
Situated to the east of the mountain ranges and lava fields lies the Najd plateau or Central Region which slopes downwards from west to east. It is naturally bordered in the east by the Ad-Dahna red desert, in the south & southeast by the Rub’ Al Khali, and southwest by wadis, including Wadi Ranyah.
This vast arid and extra arid land dominates the interior. The altitude of the Central Region is disputed depending on which source you read and can range between 500-800m or double that! It is generally characterized by patchy, gravel deserts, wadis and small hills.
The eastern sections include oasis communities where farming and trading are important livelihoods, with other areas traditionally occupied by nomadic Bedouin. Most Najdi villages are located along wadis or near oases.
Another geographical feature brought into focus recently is the discovery of various caves under the desert terrain.
We move now to the Eastern Province, 2/3 of which is made up of desert – in the north, An-Nafud, the Ad-Dahna in the middle, with our old friend the Rub’ Al Khali bringing up the rear. The lowest elevation point of KSA is along the east coast, by the Persian Gulf. This region is bordered by six countries!
Historically this province was home to the Dilmun civilization from 4,000 BCE, a great trading people, they are credited with linking the traditional activity of agriculture with maritime trading.
Eastern Province is the largest province by area and the third most populated after Riyadh and Mecca (Makkah) and it is dominated by the capital Dammam.
A popular tourist location due to its attractive beaches on the Persian Gulf and its proximity to other Arab states – including ours!
Oil production is big business here of course and mainly focussed in the Eastern province. KSA’s extensive coastlines on the Persian Gulf (and Red Sea) provide great leverage on shipping (especially crude oil) through the Persian Gulf and the Suez Canal.
Areas such as Ahsa Oasis have become important sites for desert farming due to the advancements made during the Green Revolution in farming and irrigation techniques.