Welcome to Najran, a city in southwestern Saudi Arabia near the border with Yemen. As the capital of Najran Province, Najran is one of the fastest-growing cities in the kingdom, with a population of over 500,000 people. The city is rich in history and culture, with ancient tribes such as Yām, Mákram, and Hamdan making up the majority of the population. The city is also home to a diverse religious community, with Ismaili Shias forming a plurality and Hanbali, Shafii, and Maliki Sunnis and Zaydi Shia also present.
Najran has a fascinating history that dates back over 4,000 years. It was once occupied by the Romans and was the first Yemeni city to fall to the Romans on their way to the Yemeni kingdom of Saba. Najran was also an important stopping place on the Incense Route, and it was conquered around 685 BC by the Sabean Mukarrib (King) Karibil Watar I King of Yemen. The town of Najran was already an important centre of arms manufacture during the lifetime of Muhammad.
One of the most interesting aspects of Najran’s history is its early Christian community. Christianity was introduced into Najran in the 5th century AD, and Najran was the first place where Christianity took root in South Arabia. However, under the reign of the Caliph ‘Umar, the Christian community of Najran was deported to Mesopotamia, on the grounds that Muhammad ordered all non-Muslims to be expelled from the Arabian Peninsula. Najran also had a Jewish community dating back to pre-Islamic times, historically affiliated with the Bnei Chorath who were Yemenite Jews that had conquered the city and ruled until the Christian invasion of Yemen.
Najran is also famous for its archeological significance. Old Najran was surrounded by a circular wall, 220 by 230 meters, built of square stone with defensive balconies. It contained several unique buildings. There is also a cemetery south of the external wall. Excavations of this site have uncovered glass, metals, pottery, and bronze artifacts. Square and rectangular buildings have also been found. At Al-Ukhdūd which is south of Najrān city, carvings from those days and human bones can be seen. A museum displays, among other items, a bronze lion head. Najrāns landmarks include the Rass stone, a 2-meter-high granite stone.
Najran enjoys three different geographic landscapes: oases, mountains, and the desert on its eastern side. The city has a hot desert climate, typical of the Arabian Peninsula, but despite its location in far southern Saudi Arabia, Najran’s average temperature is approximately 3.3 °C or 5.9 °F cooler than that of the Saudi capital Riyadh, due to it being 700 metres or 2,300 feet higher in altitude.
Najran is home to Najran University and Najran College of Technology, and the city has several local football clubs and sports centers. For those seeking medical care, Najran has several hospitals and medical centers, including King Khalid Hospital and Najran General Hospital.