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Introduction

Hofuf (الهفوف al-Hofuf) is a city in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The city is located within the oasis of al-Ahsa (or al-Hasa), and the names are often used interchangeably. In 2018 this oasis was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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Sights and Activities

'Al Jawatha Masjid The mosque where Friday prayers were offered for the first time outside Medina in 8th Hijri (Around 630 AD).

Jabl-e Gara A mountain of mud with natural caves and sulci.

Qasr Ibraheem Located in the down town of Hafuf this is a palace of Ibrahim Basha of Egypt. Surrounded by 10 meter high wall spread of 7-8 acres castle is made of mud.

Al-Oqair Beach One of the oldest beaches in eastern coasts of the country which opened India to Muslims in 712 AD and where a treaty was signed by Saudi King and British Government after First World War. The history goes back to 300 BC.

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Events and Festivals

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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Getting There

By Train

Hofuf is around 3 h from Riyadh and 1.5h from Dammam by train.

By Bus

SAPTCO Bus service 3.5 hours from Riyadh and 2 hours from Dammam

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Getting Around

Taxi service is available in downtown Hofuf, at SAPTCO bus station and at train station. Hard to find on road (Saudi Riyal 10 -20 per trip to get around in the city).

Many car rental services are also available. You need your ID and driving license (Saudi Riyals 70 to 200 per day per 200 km).

Southeast Asians provide an on-call cab service (this is usually through a personal contact that you can call later). These cabbies can take you within the city and to anywhere in the Gulf region.

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Eat

Only shawarma, snacks and beverages are available in small shops nearby the cave. Since moving around takes at least 4-5 hours to enjoy the location, you will derive more enjoyment if you can carry own food, especially if you are a vegetarian.

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Sleep

The Intercontinental is a new 5-star hotel in Al-Hofuf, and is affordable for anyone visiting for business. It contains a gym but of course no bar.

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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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Hofuf 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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