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al-Hejaz (also Hijaz, Hedjaz; , literally "the barrier") is a region in the west of present-day Saudi Arabiamarker. Defined mostly by the Red Seamarker, it extends from Haqlmarker on the Gulf of Aqabamarker to Jizanmarker. Its main city is Jeddahmarker, but it is probably better-known for the Islamic holy cities of Meccamarker and Medinamarker. As the site of Islam's holy places the Hejaz has significance in the Arab and Islamic historical and political landscape. The region is so called as it separates the land of Najd in the east from the land of Tihamah in the west.


Evidence suggests the Hejaz (or parts of it) was part of the Roman province of Arabia Petraea. Under the control of regional powers such as Egyptmarker and the Ottoman Empire through most of its history, the Hejaz had a brief period of political independence in the early 20th century. In 1916, still a province of the Ottoman Empire, Sharif Hussein ibn Ali proclaimed an independent Hejaz as a result of the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence. In 1924, however, ibn Ali's authority was usurped by Ibn Saud of the neighboring region of Nejd and became known as the Kingdom of Hijaz and Nejd and later the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Biblical story of the Garden of Eden is in Genesis 2:11: "And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone."

Havilah is usually associated with either the Arabian Peninsula or north-west Yemenmarker, but in the work associated with the Garden of Eden by Juris Zarins, the Hejaz mountains appear to satisfactorily meet the description. The Hejaz includes both the Cradle of Goldmarker at Mahd adh Dhahabmarker ( ) and a potential source of the now dried out Pishon River that used to flow north east to the Persian Gulf via the Wadi Al-Batinmarker system. Archaeological research lead by Farouk El-Baz of Boston Universitymarker indicates that the river system, now prospectively known as the Kuwait River, was active 2500–3000 BC. Bdellium plants are also abundant in the Hijaz.


Geographically, the region is located along the Great Rift Valley. The region is also known for its darker, more volcanic sand. Depending on the previous definition, Hejaz includes the high mountains of Sarawat which topographically separate Najd from Tehamah.


Map showing location within Saudi Arabia

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