Jebal Al Qarah

Al Qarah Cave - Ghar al Nashab


Useful Information

Location: 10 km east of Hofuf, between At-Tuwaitheer village and Al-Qarah village in Al-ahsa, Eastern Province.
(25.411615, 49.692665)
Open: All year daily -21.
[2021]
Fee: Adults SAR 50.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=1,500 m, H=30 m, T=21-23 °C.
Guided tours: self guided, D=2 h.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Saad S. Al-Sayari, Josef Georg Zötl (1978): Quaternary Period in Saudi Arabia, doi:10.1007/978-3-7091-8494-3.
Mahbub Hussain, Fadhel Al-Khalifah, Nazrul Islam Khandaker (2006): The Jabal Qarah Caves of The Hofuf Area, Northeastern Saudi Arabia: A Geological Investigation Journal of Cave and Karst Studies (v68): 12–21. ISSN 2331-1258.
pdf academia.edu researchgate
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History

1976 survey by Heinz Hötzl and V. Maurin.
2016 site developed by the Ahsa Tourism company Ahsana.
2018 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Description

Jebal Al Qarah (Al-Qarah Mountain, Al-Qara Hill) is actually the name of a mountain or hill named after the nearby homonymous village. What makes it famous, and is normally meant when talking about Jebal Al Qarah, are the caves which were known since ancient times. The east side of the mountain is fractured by narrow fissure caves which form a huge labyrinth. Sometimes they are open and form narrow gorges, sometimes they are closed and may be called caves. The place is well visited, well developed with paths and electrically lit. Strange erosional rock formations like mushroom rocks can be found all around the Jebal Al Qarah.

The hill contains numerous caves with a total length of 1500 m. The most important caves are named Bu Saleh (Al mahdi), Al Eid, An Naqa, Al Mua'adhamah, Al Maheub, Al Gairan, Al Nashab, and Um Aljamajem. The caves were used by the locals for centuries. A nearby cave was used as a school. The teachers were gathering the children at the entrance of the cave, to teach them reading. Ghar Al-Eid was used for weddings or an annual collective wedding. Ghar Um Aljamajem is used for cave trekking trips. One of the caves was actually used as a vault by several surrounding villages, who were burring their valuable documents in the mountain.

Ghar Al-Nashab (Cave of the Archer) has been developed as a show cave with trails and electric light. The floor is level but covered with a thick layer of white sand. There are five more or less parallel passages running almost east-west, which are connected by shorter perpendicular passages. The show cave is more or less a single straight passage which is only a few meters wide but very high, up to 30 m, with a triangular shape. The Filipino community in Saudi Arabia calls the Al-Nashab cave by the name Judah Cave. They are convinced that this is the cave where Judas Iscariot committed suicide. The origin of this strange belief is unknown, locals say they brought this story with them from the Philippines.

In front of the caves is a museum which is called Land of Civilisations and shows the history of Saudi Arabia. The gorge in front of the cave is decorated with modern art. The whole site including café, restaurant and theater was developed from 2016 by the Ahsa Tourism company Ahsana who invested 100 Million SAR. The oasis including the hill with its caves and gorges was again submitted to the WHL and finally registered in 2018 in the UNESCO WHL.