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Introduction

Ha'il (Arabic: حَائِل‎ Ḥā'il) is a city in northwestern Saudi Arabia. It is the capital of Ha'il Region, and has a population of about 1,200,000. Ha'il is largely agricultural, with significant grain, date, and fruit production. A large percentage of the kingdom's wheat production comes from Ha'il Region, where the area to the northeast, 60 to 100 km (37 to 62 miles) away, consists of irrigated gardens. Historically, Ha'il derived its wealth from being on the camel caravan route of the Hajj. Ha'il is well known by the generosity of its people in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world as it is the place where Hatim al-Tai lived. It is also the homeland of the Rashid royal family, historical rivals to Saudi royal family

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Sights and Activities

Barzan Palace was a historic palace that used to be located in Ha'il up until the 1920s. It was built in 1808 by Prince Muhammad bin Abdul-Muhsin Al Ali over an area of more than 300,000 square meters. The Palace was completed during the rule of the 2nd Rashidi amir, Talal Ibn Abdullah (1848–68). The Palace consisted of 3 floors, the first had the reception halls, gardens, and kitchens. The second had the diplomatic guest rooms. The third had the royal family rooms. It was demolished at the orders of Ibn Saud after the conquest of Ha'il in 1921.
Barzan Souk is in the place where many years ago stood the Barzan Palace of the Al Rashid extended family who governed the area around Ha'il.
Friday Market is a traditional-style souk, held on Friday because it is a national weekend.
Garden Mall is the largest shopping mall in Hail, it has shops like lifestyle, shoe mart, babyshop, H&M, giordano, iconic etc. "Samah Center" became the second largest shopping center in Ha'il. The third being the "Hyper Panda" shopping mall.
Airif Fort (also spelled Oreif) is on a hill on the edge of the city. It is a mud-brick (adobe) fort built over 200 years ago as a combined observation post and stronghold. There is a beautiful view of the city from the main watchtower.
Qishlah Fortress is an impressive sight located in the center of Ha'il. The current building was built in the 1940s while prince Abdul-Aziz bin Musa'ad Al Saud held office in Ha'il province. It is the largest traditional mud-brick fortress in Ha'il and is very well restored and preserved both outside and inside. It was used mostly as a barracks. Its two floors are 142.8x141.2 meters high, its walls are 8.5m high, and it has eight large watch-towers along with the wall with two main gates, eastern and western, and has a large inner courtyard with old military items on exhibition.
At-Turathy Restaurant is a large historical mud-brick building located in Ha'il center which is used as a traditional restaurant. Its appearance is half-restaurant, half-museum with a large number of local traditional items used as decorations. The atmosphere is very traditional, food is traditional, and seating is on the floor.
Ha'il Roundabouts are located in different parts of the city. These have large sculptures of traditional items located in the center of the traffic rotaries which are decorative fountains. One has a Gerba (traditional animal skin canteen) built as a fountain, another has a Mabakara (traditional incense burner) with Dellahs (traditional coffee pots) and cups around it built as a fountain.
Ha'il Museum is the museum of the city of Ha'il. It is also one of the places where visitors can buy permits to see the petroglyphs near Jubbah Oasis, the other place being Ateeq Naif al-Shammari's Jubbah Palace of Heritage museum just off the main street in the town of Jubbah itself. The rock carvings, which are believed to date from 5500 BC are in an area that is about an hour and a half from Ha'il city by car. Tours to the Nafud desert can also be organized there.
Aja Palace is located on the outskirts of the city. It is where the current governor of Ha'il province His Royal Highness Prince Saud Bin Abdul Mohsen Bin Abdul Aziz al Saud lives. It can only be seen from a distance - from the main highway nearby. It is a residential compound and as such is not open to the general public for sightseeing.

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Events and Festivals

Ha'il Desert Life Festival is an annual festival held in the province of Ha'il to celebrate and exchange experiences about desert life and culture around the world.

Milad al-Nabi

All Saudi Muslims celebrate the birthday of their Prophet, Mohammad, by elaborately decorating their homes and mosques. Children recite poems about the Prophet, while older Saudis tell stories about Mohammad’s life and accomplishments. Large feasts and street processions are among Milad al-Nabi’s other traditional activities. The date of Milad al-Nabi varies from year to year according to the Islamic calendar.

Unification of the Kingdom Day

The country’s only secular public holiday takes place each September 23 on the anniversary of Saudi Arabia’s 1932 founding. Although many Saudis still choose to quietly celebrate this formerly low-key holiday at home, growing numbers of young Saudis have chosen to express their national pride more overtly by singing, dancing, honking car horns, and waving Saudi flags.

Eid ul-Fitr

Like their Muslim counterparts in other nations, Saudis mark the final day of the fasting month of Ramadan with this three-day religious festival. Eid ul-Fitr begins with a small morning meal and quiet prayers, and continues with larger feasts and livelier celebrations among family and friends. Saudi children receive money and elaborately decorated gift bags from adults, several shopkeepers add free gifts to all purchases, and Saudi men secretly leave large bags of food on strangers’ doorsteps during this festive time of year.

Eid al-Adha

This important Muslim festival lasts four days and marks the moment when Ibrahim was willing to sacrifice Ismael, his son, for Allah. Today, most Saudi families celebrate Eid al-Adha by dressing up in their finest clothing, saying special prayers, and slaughtering lambs to share their meat with everyone.

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Weather

Ha'il has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh) with hot summers and cool winters. It has a somewhat milder climate than other Saudi cities due to its higher altitude.

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Getting There

Ha'il is located on Saudi Arabian highways 65,70 and 400, and is connected to 3 main highways, Madinah, Buraydah, and Jouf Highways, which connect Ha'il with the northern borders of Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom of Jordan.

Ha'il has an important logistical role in northern Saudi Arabia's rail system (SAR). In 2008 Ha'il is the site of a concrete sleeper plant for railway construction. A railway (the north-south line) was completed in 2015 that extends from Riyadh to Al-Hadeetha in northern Saudi Arabia through Ha'il as part of the expansion of the Saudi railway system railway. A new SAR railway passenger station was completed in 2015. It is planned that commercial operation of this station will start in the fourth quarter of 2017 with trips to Riyadh.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes abound in major Saudi cities, and many shopping malls feature a gaming parlor or two. Rates are around SR5/hour.

While Internet in Saudi Arabia is cordoned off by a filter, it aims primarily at pornography, non-Islamic religious and domestic political sites in Arabic, and (from the traveller's point of view) is nowhere near as strict as, say, China's. Google, Skype, Wikipedia, all major webmail providers etc. are all accessible.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The three mobile operators in Saudi, incumbent Al Jawal, Emirati rival Mobily and Kuwaiti newcomer Zain (Vodafone Network) are fiercely competitive, with good coverage (in populated areas) and good pricing. A starter pack with prepaid SIM and talktime starts from about SR 75, and you can sign up in most any larger mobile shop (bring your passport). Local calls are under SR 0.5/minute, while calls overseas are around or less than SR 2/min.

And yes, you can bring in your own phone: despite grumblings from the clerics, both camera phones and multimedia messaging (MMS) are now legal.

Post

Saudi Post has a good network of post offices around the country, but offices are closed Thursday and Friday. Stamps for postcards to anywhere in the world cost SR4. The bigger problem is actually finding postcards, as the mutawwa periodically crack down on the celebration of non-Islamic holidays like Valentine's Day, Christmas or even birthdays, causing all cards of any sort to disappear from bookstores! Your best bet is thus gift shops in major hotels. Mail coming in to the country from overseas is notoriously unreliable. Stories abound of things arriving months after they were sent or never arriving at all. There are branches of DHL, FedEx and UPS operating throughout the kingdom, so a good rule of thumb is to have anything important sent through those channels.

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Ha'il Travel Helpers

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This is version 3. Last edited at 14:19 on Oct 1, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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