Al-Qassim Region

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Al-Qsim
Region
القصيم
Map of Saudi Arabia with Al-Qsim highlighted
Map of Saudi Arabia with Al-Qsim highlighted
Capital Buraidah
Boroughs 11
Government
 • Governor Prince Faisal bin Bandar
 • Deputy Governor Dr. Faisal bin Mishaal bin Saud bin Abdulaziz
Area
 • Total 58,046 km2 (22,412 sq mi)
Population (2010 census)
 • Total 1,215,858
 • Density 21/km2 (54/sq mi)
ISO 3166-2 05

Al-Qassim Region Arabic: منطقة القصيمAl Qaṣīm [ælqɑˈsˤiːm]), also spelled Al-Qaseem, Al-Qasim, Qassim, or Gassim, is one of the thirteen administrative regions of Saudi Arabia. Located at the heart of the country, and almost in the center of the Arabian Peninsula, it has a population of 1,215,858 and an area of 58,046 km². It is known to be the "alimental basket" of the country, for its agricultural assets.

Al-Qassim is the richest region in Saudi Arabia.[1] Al-Qassim is Saudi Arabia's most conservative region. It is the centre of the Salafi movement. The province is regarded as one of the key support bases of the Al Saud family. This province has also contributed many notable Salafi ulema and sheikhs. It is the seventh most populated region in the country after Jizan. It has more than 400 cities, towns, villages, and Bedouin settlements, ten of which are recognized as governorates. Its capital city is Buraydah, which is inhabited by approximately 49% of the region's total population. The governor of the province since 1992 is Prince Faisal bin Bandar.

Etymology[edit]

Al Qassim is derived from the word "Qassimah" (Arabic: قصيمة‎), a reference to قصائم الغضا, meaning the region's sand dunes from which the white saxaul trees grow.[2]

The region is known to contain a large group of Calligonum plants such as comosum (locally known as arta).

Location[edit]

The province is located in the center of Saudi Arabia approximately 400 km northwest of Riyadh, the capital. It is bordered by Ar Riyadh Region to the south and east, by Ha'il Region to the north, and by Al Madinah Region to the west. The region is connected to almost every part of Saudi Arabia by a very complicated network of highways. The regional airport, Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Regional Airport, connects Al Qassim (Gassim) to the other provinces of the country.

History[edit]

Pre-Islamic Arabia[edit]

A current photo of, what is said to be, Antarah's Rock in AlJiwa

There is not much information known about Al Qassim the province in the times of Pre-Islamic Arabia. Unaizah was repeatedly mentioned as a desert watering hole in the poems of Imru Al Qais (the famous Arabian poet). Moreover, AlJiwa, which is about 60 km north of Unzaizah, was mentioned by the heroic Absi poet Antarah bin Shaddad.

The Abbasid Empire[edit]

Al Qassim Province had some important foyers on the road of pilgrims and traders coming from the east (mainly Persia and Iraq) in the era of the Abbasid Empire.

The Zubeida road was a long pilgrims road that started from the city of Kufa in Iraq and ran to Mecca in Arabia. The road was constructed in the reign of Harun Al Rashid and was named after his wife Zubeida. It had pilgrims foyers in many of the region's cities including Unaizah.

Tribal conflict (1600s-1907)[edit]

The Al Abu Olayan - dynasty from the Banu Tamim tribe established the emirate of Buraydah in the late 16th century by its leader, Rashid Al Duraiby. He built Buraydah and made it the province's capital. However, Unaizah was ruled by Al Sulaim dynasty. The emirate was later captured by Muhanna Salih Abalkhail, the leader of the Abalkhail dynasty. In 1890, the Al Rashid dynasty based in Ha'il annexed the province. In 1904, the Abalkhail recaptured the province4. In 1907, the province was integrated under the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia[edit]

The province is Saudi Arabia's most conservative region. It is the heart of the Najd region and the centre of the Salafi movement. The province is regarded as one of the key support bases of the Al Saud family, along with Al Riyadh Province, Ha'il province and Al Jawf province. This province has also contributed many notable Salafi ulema and sheikhs.[3]

Geography[edit]

Al Qassim province is divided by the Wadi Al-Rummah (Rummah Valley). The valley crosses the entire region from the west to the northeast. It is the longest valley in the whole Arabian peninsula, it stretches for about 600 km (370 mi) from near Medina, to the Thuayrat Dunes in the east, and northeast of the region. The land's height in Qassim is about 600–750 meters above sea level, and it is gliding from west to east in general.

Climate[edit]

Al Qassim region has a typical desert climate, known for its cold, rainy winters, and for its hot and sometimes balmy summers, with low humidity.

Agriculture[edit]

Palm trees in Unaizah

Along with tourism, agriculture is still the cornerstone of the region's economy. Although the region has been famous for its agricultural assets for a long time, it wasn't until recently that wheat production has been introduced to the local agricultural industry, making Saudi Arabia a net exporter of cereal. The region also produces dates, grapes, lemons, grapefruits, mandarin oranges, oranges, pomegranates, and a large group of vegetables.

Buraydah (the capital of the province) is one of the biggest dates producers worldwide. Each year (in September), a big "dates season ceremony" is celebrated, at which a lot of people come from all over the GCC countries to buy their yearly requirement of dates. It also has the biggest camel market in the world.

Unaizah (the second largest city) has created its own "dates season ceremony", called "Unaizah, the kingdom of dates", the municipality of the city has paired it with other festivals being held annually, to promote a good tourism reputation.

Agriculture in general is considered to be a very important part of the region's natives culture, with special vegetables being linked to every city, for example eating leeks (kurrat) is associated with the people of Unaizah, while adding chili peppers to meals is associated with the people of the city of Rass.

Education[edit]

The region is served by schools in every city and town for all three educational levels (primary, intermediate, and secondary), and includes various types of school (public, private, Koranic, international), with international and private schools being mainly concentrated in the cities of Buraydah, and Unaizah.

Although there are many colleges in the region, there is only one university, Qassim University, which is located between Buraydah and Al-Bukairiyah at the heart of the region.

Cities[edit]

Unaizah
  • Buraydah is the official capital of the region, with about 49% of the population residing in the city. The palace of the province' prince is located in the city, along with other governmental centers. It is the seventh largest city (by population) in the country with a total population of 609,000 (2010 census).
  • Unaizah is the region's second largest city, total population of 163,000 (2010 census). The city is ruled by Al Sulaim dynasty, in accordance to a written treaty between them and the Saudi royal family, the city is known to be center of religion and culture, thus making Al Qassim Province as a whole to be known as a center of religion and culture. The city is famous for its tourist attractions and festivals.
  • Ar Rass is the third largest city in Al Qassim Province by population, total population of 133,000 (2010 census). It is also thought to be the largest city in Al Qassim Province by area. It has an area of about 60 km²

There are also other nearby rural towns including Almethnab, Al-Bukairiyah, Badaya'a, Riyadh Al-Khabra, Al-Khabra, and Nabhaniya.

Health care[edit]

There is at least one or two general hospitals in every city of the region. In addition to the private health care sector, which has a stronger presence than the governmental one. Private hospitals are distributed everywhere in the cities of the region.

References[edit]