Zubala, reviving the Darb Zubaydah Hajj Route

Guest post by Alberto Di Gennaro – SANDS

Zubala is one of the most important historical villages in the Arabian Peninsula (the word “zubala” literally means a place that keeps water in it).

It is an old station on the way from Hijaz to Kufa in which Banu Ghadira, a clan of the Banu Asad tribe, had several strongholds and a mosque. It was a thriving village with bazaars, located between al-Tha’labiyya and Waqisa.

On the way from Mecca, the station is located before Shuquq and after Qa’. It is 24 miles away from Qa’ and Shuquq.

Zubala is mentioned in several historical sources. Five centuries ago, Zubala was a key station for trade caravans and pilgrims on the Kufic pilgrimage route known as the Darb Zubaydah pilgrimage route. Zubala was also known as Zubala bin Masoud, or Zubala bin Al-Hareth, who dug a famous water-rich well, the deepest well in Darb Zubaydah, 250 meters deep and 10 meters wide. Around 300 old wells can be found in the area.

Poets and historians have described the village as an important Islamic monument that welcomed pilgrims coming from Iraq. The famous Saudi historian Hamad Al-Jasser, who dedicated most of his life to writing and scholarly making him a source of reference for the geography and history of the Arab Peninsula, visited the ancient place and mentioned it in his book, “The Geographical Dictionary of Saudi Arabia”.

The 1,300-year-old village of Zubala is home to many historic monuments, including the famous eponymous fort, an ancient Arab market called Zubala Day, and the Abbasid palace built by Harun Al-Rashid.

Saudi Arabia’s Heritage Commission announced the start of a new archaeological excavation of the site of Zubala as part of the commission’s excavation projects across the Kingdom. The project will excavate one of the historical Darb Zubaydah stations to preserve the cultural heritage of the trail, and to launch the Zubayda Trail Program. The program will research and publish its findings surrounding the historical sites and launch new projects to explore the trail.

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