Ash Shabili St, Unaizah
|Province||Al Qassim Province|
|• Mayor||Abdulaziz Al Bassam|
|• Borough Governor||Fahad Al Sulaim|
Unaizah (Arabic: عنيزة ʿUnaizah) or officially The Governorate of Unaizah (also spelled Onaizah, Onizah, or Unayzah; Arabic: محافظة عنيزة Muḥāfiẓat ʿUnaizah) is a Saudi Arabian city in the Al Qassim Province. It lies south of the province capital Buraydah and north of Riyadh, the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is the second largest city in Al-Qassim Province with a population of 163,729 (2010 census).
Historically, Unaizah was an important stopping point for Muslim pilgrims coming from Mesopotamia (now Iraq) and Persia (now Iran) on their way to Makkah. Many scientists and historians believe that Unaizah was inhabited hundreds of years before the spread of Islam, citing its reference in numerous poems from some of the most important poets of pre-Islamic Arabia such as Imru Al-Qais.
Unaizah is in the south of Al-Qassim Province and at the heart of the historical region of Najd. It is located roughly 30 kilometers from Buraydah (the capital of the province) and more than 300 kilometers north of the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Unaizah lies in the northern-central region of the Najd and to the south of the Wadi Al Rumma (Rumma Valley), which is the longest valley on the Arabian peninsula. It is surrounded by sand dunes to its north and west, which are known locally as the Al-Ghamis Sands. The Al-Ghadha Woods are located to the north of the city.Next to Unaizah is the Al-Aushaziyah salt lake (or Sabkha), which is considered an official part of the city.
Unaizah has a typical desert climate. Its winters are cold and semi-rainy, and its summers are hot, aneroid summers with low humidity. The summer weather of Unaizah is sometimes described as balmy to nearby farms that surround the city. So with this kind of weather Unaizah got famous as one of the biggest city for planting dates.
The 4th annual Date Season Festival was held in September 2008, giving Unaizah the distinction of hosting the largest date festival in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. The festival rivals the date festival of neighboring Buraydah's, which is sometimes known as "Buraydah, the City of Dates".
Unaizah's 4th annual Date Festival was known as the "Unaizah International Date Festival", though the city's title "Unaizah, the Kingdom of Dates" was retained as a motto. Many people from deterrent places of the Middle East come to see this festival and buy dates because they know there is a good quality of dates.
Unaizah is home to some pioneers in education; the first Saudi person from Al-Qassim Province to earn a PhD. degree was from Unaizah, and his name was Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Khowaiter. The first Saudi female from Al Qassim Province to earn a PhD degree was also raised in this city. Her name was Dr. Ebtisam Al Bassam.
One of the first cities to embrace female education in Al-Qassim Province and Najd was Unaizah. It faced resistance from neighboring provinces and brought Unaizah at the forefront of a national debate. After lengthy negotiations, the capital city of Qassim, Buraidah a sister city of Unaizah, officially recognized the right of an education for females, partly due to King Abdulaziz's interference in settling the dispute.
Today, there are many public schools in Unaizah for all three educational levels (primary, intermediate, and secondary). There are also two private schools and one private international school. There is also a boys' technological secondary school in the city and a technological college, as well as a girls' educational college. Qassim University is located approximately 30 kilometers north of the city, and enrolls both males and females. In addition, there is a new university will open soon "Unaizah University", and it will help Unaizah to grow fast. Also it will decrease the numbers of accidents because the closest university is Qassim University and the road is bad.
The people of Unaizah are well known for their hospitality and acceptance for people from other races and religions. The famous Charles Montagu Doughty lived in the city during his odyssey and wrote highly about the city.
Amin al-Rihani (the famous Franco-Lebanese scholar and traveler) spoke highly of the city's architecture and works of art in his book "Kings of Arabia" likening it to Paris thereby coining the nickname "Paris of Najd" for the city.
Unaizah, has renewed its status as a trailblazer of Tourism in the Qassim Province
- Al Bassam Mansion, a traditional house and a private museum .
- Al Hajeb Parks.
- Al Hamdan House, a traditional house and a private museum.
- Al Subbayyel Grotto.
- Asia Resort and Park.
- Dream Land, the largest theme park in Al Qassim Province and as reportedly the Central Region.
- Judaida Avenue.
- King Fahd Cultural Center.
- The Roman amphitheater.
- Salih Bin Salih Cultural Center.
- The Unaizah House for Traditional Legacy.
- Al Fahd Crown (under construction).
- Oasis Hotel.
- Onaizah Hotel.
Although Unaizah is thought to be relatively more accepting of visitors than its neighbors, its tourism industry faces criticism for a number of reasons. One such criticism is its disregard for infrastructure maintenance.
All of the Saudi citizens of Unaizah are Sunni Muslim with a small minority of Dharmic religions, (mostly Hinduism) brought and practiced in the city by Asian workers (mainly Indians). As the rest of Saudi Arabian cities, non-Islamic worship houses are not allowed.
The majority of the city's inhabitants are socially conservative. One of Saudi Arabia's leading religious clerics Muhammad ibn al Uthaymeen was a student of the late Sheikh Abd ar-Rahman ibn Nasir as-Sa'di, an Unaizah native. Muhammad ibn al Uthaymeen himself was born and raised in Unaizah. He lived in Unaizah until he died, where many mosques have been built and named after him.
The Qassimi cuisine in general, and the cuisine of Unaizah is very famous for its delicious food, and for its renowned and tasty traditional meals such as Jereesh, Margoug, Gersan, and Metazeez.
Unaizah is very active in terms of sports. Football is the most popular sport all over Saudi Arabia, and it is very popular in Unaizah, it is played in school's P.E. (i.e. Physical Education) lessons, and it is common to see a group of kids playing it in the streets.
There are two local clubs in Unaizah, the Saudi Al Najmah club, and the Al Arabi club.
Unaizah is served by six major Arabic-language newspapers, Al Jazeera, Alriyadh, Okaz, Al Watan, Al Hayat, Al Yaum, as well as one English-language newspaper, Arab News. Unaizah has one local magazine, that issues every four months, it is called Paris Najd, named after the widest spread nickname of Unaizah. In addition to many other national and international magazines distributed everywhere in the city's markets.
The Ruling Dynasty
The city has been ruled by the Al Sulaim family since 1818. They came to power when Prince Yehya Al-Sulaim in 1822 killed the governor appointed by the Ottoman emperor, Abdullah Al-Jamei. This dynasty still rules the city according to a written treaty between them and the Saudi royal family. Some of the most famous families in Saudi Arabia originate from Unaizah, including Al Juffali, Al Ohaly, Al Ammary, Al Ghothami, Al Hatlani, Al Sulaiman, Al Hamdan, Al Akeel, Al Fadl, Al Tamimi, Al Zamil, Al Olayan, Al Bassam, Al Gadhi, Al Matrody, Al Saloom, Al Subaiee, Al Senany, Al Mansour, Al Yahya, Al Thukair, Al Turki, Aldubayan, Al Shoshan, Al Shubaili, Al Shebel, Al Damigh, Al Othaimeen, Al Malloohi, Al Marzooki, Al Manei, Al Se'di, Al Abeeki, Al Khwaiter, Al Sowayil, Al Daffaa, Al Jaffali, Al Dukhayyel, Al Dakheel, Al Abdeli, Al Suhaimi, families and many others.
- Mohammad AlYahya: First Saudi Arabian CEO at the bank of HSBC
- AbdAllah Al-Senany: An outstanding poet, educator, and calligrapher. He was called "the Prince of pretty poetry" by Dr. AbdulKarim Al-Asa'ad, a well known Arabic literature professor.
- Dr. Azzam Al-Kadi, a Laparoscopic and Trauma Surgeon, a public figure, and an assistant professor at Al Qassim University.
- Dr. Mohammad Al-Sebayel, the first Arab surgeon to perform a human liver transplant.
- AbdulAziz Al Hazzaa, a pioneer comedian famous by his different voice levels.
- Musa'ad Al-Senany, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs / governor of (GOSI), the General Organization for Social Insurance.
- AbdAllah Al Nuaim, Riyadh city manager /vice president, King Saud University /Founder and President of the Board of Trustees, King Fahad National Library.
- Dr. AbdulAziz Al Nuaim, member of the Saudi Shura Council.
- AbdAllah Al Hamdan, a General at the Saudi Air Force.
- AbdAllah bin Sulaiman Al Hamdan, Prime minister, minister of Finance/ Top Assistant and Adviser to King AbdulAziz.
- Dr. AbdAllah Al Shebel, president of Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University.
- Eng. AbdulAziz Al Zamil, minister of Industry and Electricity.
- Dr. AbdalRahman Al Subeit, vice president of the Saudi Arabian National Guard.
- AbdalRahman Abalkhail, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs and Ambassador to [Egypt].
- Dr. Yusef Al-Othaimeen, current Minister of Social Affairs.
- Dr. Mohammad Al-Sowayel, president, King AbdalAziz City for Science and Technology.
- Dr. Ahmad Al Dubayan, director of the Islamic cultural centre in London.
- Ali Al Khayat, a famous poet and writer.
- Abdullah Al Shoshan, a famous poet.
- Ibrahim Al Sowayel, former Saudi ambassador to the United States
- H.E. Ebraheem Alsuleiman (Al Akeel), major contributor to the structuring of the Saudi Arabian Royal Court. Former chief of the Crown Prince's Royal Court, of then Crown Prince Faisal, during the reign of King Saud. Then former Saudi Ambassador to the Republic of Egypt
- Eng. Yusef Al-Bassam, President of the Saudi Development Fund (International Aid).
- Lubna Al Olayan, Chairperson of "Olayan Financing Co."
- Muhammad Al Shubeili, former Saudi ambassador to Malaysia, Iraq and others.
- Muhammad Al Zughaiby, minister of Transportation.
- Dr. Nassir Al-Saloom, minister of transportation
- Saleh Al Abbad, former chief of the Saudi Royal Court.
- Saleh Al Nugaidan, a famous draughtsman, painter, and photographer.
- Sulaiman S. Olayan, one of Saudi Arabia's leading businessmen whose autobiography is titled "From Unaizah to Wall Street."
- H.E Dr. Sulaiman Al Sulaim, Former Minister of Commerce and Finance. Chairman of Saudi American Bank
- Abdulrahman Rashed Alkhayat, (retired) Royal Saudi naval force "Admiral"
- Dr. Saad Al-Sowayan, (retired) Anthropologist and author of The Arabian Oral Historical Narrative - King Saud University - <http://saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentID=2011041898551>
- Dr. Abdulrahman alabdulaaly, Research Professor at KACST. Have many published papers. He also published a book.
- Dr. Mohammad Alabdulaaly, Consultant and Head of pediatric urology in KFSH. Director of Medical Eligibility (retired) Also assisted in conjoined twins separation with the minister of health.
- Dr. Abdulaziz I. Alabdulaaly, Consultant and Head hematology at Riyadh Military Hospital. Also have number of medical researches.
Unaizah in the news
Unaizah made national headlines during the last 60 years because of its pioneering spirit. This city takes pride in the fact that it produced pioneers and experts in many professions, top poets, ambassadors, national civil servants and businessmen more than most Saudi cities. The first non-governmental literary society/club in the kingdom was established in Unaizah in 1953, and in 1921, the first public school in Najed was established. Unaizah is well known for its hospitality, hence, there are a variety of tourism Festivals in the year. These include dates, and healthy crops festivals. There is also a bi-annual cultural festival which is a trademark for this city. It was the only city of the Najd region to invite a Saudi Shiite cleric to speak in a public event, in a grass-roots effort to promote a united national identity. This drew criticism from conservatives in neighboring cities.
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- Information about the city
- Unaizah unofficial site (ParisNajd)
- Unaizah's Department of Education
- Unaizah's Technological College
- Sheikh Abdulrahman Bin Sedi Secondary School
- Unaizah's largest forums online
- Dakkat Unaizah forums
- Youth of Unaizah forums
- Unaizah's poets forums
- Janah (a district in Unaizah) Forums