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Volume 16, Number 5 September/October 1965

In This Issue

September/October 1965

Arabia the Beautiful: A Special Issue

Years ago in America the lonely grandeur of plain and sky and mountain inspired a hymn that sang of a vast and lovely land stretching away to the majesty of purple mountains towering up toward blue and spacious skies. The hymn was called America the Beautiful.

Recently, beneath the spacious skies of another, much older land, the lyrics of that hymn came, almost unconsciously, to the lips of a small party of Americans traveling through the north western corner of Saudi Arabia. For there, in a valley of golden sandstone, they found Arabia the Beautiful.

The valley is called Mada'in Salih—the "City of Salih"—and it lies on an ancient caravan route 500 miles north of Jiddah deep in the region called the Hijaz. Around it are other valleys dotted with high spines of eroded sand stone marching off in rows toward the west where, legends say, lie even larger valleys, rich in formations of unimaginable beauty.

It is a strange country almost entirely unknown to the West. The Hijaz Railway once served the region but that was in an era when few travelers ventured into Saudi Arabia. Until very recently, in fact, visitors were numbered in the dozens and even today fewer than 200 Westerners have ever been there. Therefore, this issue of Aramco World is devoted to Mada'in Salih and the monuments, natural and other wise, that make it truly, Arabia the Beautiful.


The Miracle of the Camel
Written by Peter Crowe
The Monuments-I
Written by Charles M. Doughty
The Monuments-II
Written by Pere Savingac and Pere Jaussen
North from Jiddah
Written by Paul F. Hoye
Photographed by Burnett H. Moody
Notes on the Nabateans
Written by Thomas C. Barger
Pilgrim's Road
Written by Daniel Da Cruz
Photographed by Burnett H. Moody