Al Ahsa, El Hasa, or Hadjar (Arabic: الأحساء al-Aḥsāʾ, locally al-Ahasāʾ; Turkish: Lahsa) is a traditional oasis region in eastern Saudi Arabia whose name is used by the Al-Ahsa Governorate, which makes up much of that country's Eastern Province. The oasis is located about 60 km inland from the Persian Gulf.
Al-Ahsa is part of the region known historically as Al Bahrain geographical province in Eastern Arabia, which includes the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula down to the borders of Oman, and also includes the island of Awal (modern-day Bahrain). Historically, Al Ahsa was the main city in Al Bahrain province, making up most of its population and providing most of its agricultural output.
Al-Ahsa has been inhabited since prehistoric times, due to its abundance of water in an otherwise arid region. Natural fresh-water springs have surfaced at oases in the region for millennia, encouraging human habitation and agricultural efforts (date palm cultivation especially) since prehistoric times. Recently, Al-Ahsa Oasis has been nominated as one of the seven wonders of the world.
Its early history is similar to that of Eastern Arabia. In 899 A.D., the region came under the control of the Qarmatian leader, Abu Tahir Al-Jannabi, and was declared independent from the Abbasid caliphate of Baghdad. Its capital was at al-Mu'miniya near modern Hofuf. By circa 1000, Al Hasa became the 9th largest region worldwide supporting 100,000 inhabitants. In 1077, the Qarmatian state of Al-Ahsa was overthrown by the Uyunids. Al Ahsa subsequently fell under the rule of the Bahrani dynasty of the Usfurids, followed by their relatives, the Jabrids, who became one of the most formidable powers in the region, retaking the islands of Bahrain from the princes of Hormuz. The last Jabrid ruler of Bahrain was Muqrin ibn Zamil.
In 1521, the Portuguese Empire conquered the Awal Islands (the islands that comprise present day Bahrain) from the Jabrid ruler Migrin ibn Zamil, who fell strongly in battle. The Jabrids struggled to maintain their position on the mainland in the face of the Ottomans and their tribal allies, the Muntafiq. In 1550, Al-Ahsa and nearby Qatif came under suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire with Sultan Suleiman I. Al-Ahsa was nominally the Eyalet of Lahsa in the Ottoman administrative system, and was usually a vassal of the Porte. Qatif was later lost to the Portuguese.
Al-Ahsa, along with Qatif, was incorporated into the Wahhabist First Saudi State in 1795, but returned to Ottoman control in 1818 with an invasion ordered by Muhammad Ali of Egypt. The Banu Khalid were again installed as rulers of the region but, in 1830, the Second Saudi State re-took the region.
Direct Ottoman rule was restored in 1871, and Al-Ahsa was placed first under Baghdad Vilayet and with Baghdad's subdivision Basra Vilayet in 1875. In 1913, Ibn Saud, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, annexed Al-Ahsa and Qatif into his domain of Najd.
On December 2, 1922, Percy Zachariah Cox officially notified Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Ahmad Al Sabah that Kuwait's borders had been modified. Earlier that year, Major John More, the British representative in Kuwait, had met with Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia to settle the border issue between Kuwait and Najd. The result of the meeting was the Uqair Protocol of 1922, in which Britain recognized Ibn Saud's sovereignty over territories claimed by the emir of Kuwait.
In 1938, petroleum deposits were discovered near Dammam, resulting in the rapid modernization of the region. By the early 1960s, production levels reached 1 million barrels (160,000 m3) per day.
Al-Hasa is famous for its palm trees and dates. Al-Hasa has over 30 millions palm trees which produce over 100 thousand tons of dates every year.
The number of springs and freshwater source in Al-Hasa oasis rang from 60 to 70 like those in Ummsaba'ah, Al-Harrah and Al-Khadod.
Al-Hasa oasis filled with a number of archaeological sites that give witness to the area's importance.
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- Al Hasa population soared to 100,000 by circa 1000
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- Tor Eigeland, 1970, The Twice-Used Water, Saudi Aramco World
- Jon Mandaville, 1974, Al-Hasa: Outpost of Empire, Saudi Aramco World
- Al-Ahsa Municipality website