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The Spectacular Rock Formations in Southwestern Saudi Arabia

Updated on May 21, 2019
Millionaire I am profile image

Marjun is a Microbiologist by training and loves to travel, write, read and speak. He has been in Saudi Arabia for 24 years.

Perfect Balance! The "Queen" stands magically majestic in perfect equilibrium, even with its tapered end at the bottom.
Perfect Balance! The "Queen" stands magically majestic in perfect equilibrium, even with its tapered end at the bottom. | Source
Take Me In. A marvelous rock formation whose curves and contours were highlighted perfectly by the rising sun.
Take Me In. A marvelous rock formation whose curves and contours were highlighted perfectly by the rising sun. | Source

Exploring the beautiful, rugged terrain of Asir Region is extremely satisfying, because no matter what interests you, you will be treated with awesome surprises. For instance, because of the vegetation in most parts of the region, there are several species of birds for an Ornithologist to be interested about. For a Botanist and a Zoologist, there are considerably a variety of flora and fauna in the area and there is a veritable feast of volcanic phenomena that is waiting to be studied by a Geologist.


Origin

Eons ago when the Arabian plate cracked free from Africa, the Western edge tilted upward several degrees and elsewhere, there is an evidence of the resultant upheaval and change. Lava spewed over the landscapes creating formidable "harrats" (basaltic lava fields) of the Western part of the country. Besides, great escarpment were formed by the tilting of the plate. The most spectacular of these are the Hijaz and Asir Mountains in Western and Southwestern provinces, as well as the Tuwaiq escarpment in the Nejd or Central District.

Soaring to 3,500 meters above the Red Sea, the highlands of Asir offer myriads of natural and historical treats for a keen and adventurous visitor. One of the least known jewels of the province, dubbed as the tourist region of Saudi Arabia, are the fabulous stonescapes that are visible in, virtually, most parts of the region. And the most grandiose of these are the enormous, stunning boulders intricately scattered in the vast track of wilderness, just a few kilometers South of the commercial city of Khamis Mushayt.

Once spewed from primeval volcanoes millions of years ago, the tremendous natural forces that followed had curved, molded and formed the stones into dramatic fashions to look incredibly wonderful and yes, out-of this world!

Splendid Rock Formations

A huge, gray monolith whose rear is like the bow of the mighty Arabian dhow is fantastic. It seemed to have been docked eternally on a roadside. Sadly, ill-mannered visitors had vandalized the stone. Meanwhile, a cluster of piled up rocks with heads similar to Picasso's interpretation of human beings that were immortalized in his paintings are equally awesome

In addition, a wonderfully-arched ones that seem to have been eroded by seaside waves and looks like the edges of that unique and colorful Pakistani sandals are not uncommon. Bizarre formations like a Shark's mouth, open wide and ready to devour a prey, imparts and eerie feeling; and so is the "Lion's Head" that seems to sniff quietly, trying to look for something to eat; equally amazing is the "Giant Turtle" in an intersection that seems to strategically watches the passersby.

Awesome, too, are the tall, vertical stones with shafts that resembles newly-sprouted mushrooms after a night's drizzle and thunderstorm in the tropics; a rock spire, shaped like an arrow pierced outwardly on top of gigantic lava hill gives warning to intruders. Likewise, there are numerous flat-surfaced boulders with hollow as small as the size of a soup bowl or as big as a laundry basin. During rainy days, these catch a considerable amount of water to the delight of the denizens of the harrats.

Unlike the equally impressive rocky sandstone outcrops of Madain Saleh, the Nejd and the Al-Hasa Oasis, the stones in this part of the country are mainly granitic in nature.


Ready to Sail? A huge monolith resembles the bow of an Arabian dhow.
Ready to Sail? A huge monolith resembles the bow of an Arabian dhow. | Source
The "Giant Turtle" welcomes passersby.
The "Giant Turtle" welcomes passersby. | Source
Split Rock. Someone once cut the stone into two.
Split Rock. Someone once cut the stone into two. | Source
"The King on His Throne."  Hollowed rock formations such as these catches rain water to the delight of the animal residents.
"The King on His Throne." Hollowed rock formations such as these catches rain water to the delight of the animal residents. | Source
The Altar. A heart-shaped hollowed rock gives an impression of a receptacle reserved  for a deity.
The Altar. A heart-shaped hollowed rock gives an impression of a receptacle reserved for a deity. | Source
A Shelter. The shade provides relief to animals during the extreme weather, especially during summer.
A Shelter. The shade provides relief to animals during the extreme weather, especially during summer. | Source
The Queen. It is quite unbelievable to see a rock whose sharp edge is stuck on top of another stone in perfect balance.
The Queen. It is quite unbelievable to see a rock whose sharp edge is stuck on top of another stone in perfect balance. | Source

Significance

Lying side by side with these rocks, one could find a bed of quartz in various colors, mostly milky white and garnet. Because of their abundance, these were used by locals as decorative elements in building their houses and watchtowers. Also, there are myriads of soft, rock chips with patches of silver innately embedded on them that glitters under the sun.

What is also worth mentioning is this natural heritage's capacity to support various life forms. From afar, one would think that this is a vast barren land with many natural pieces of stone art that were chaotically scattered. A careful look into it astounds a tourist blessed with a sharp eye to see the beauty of the many plants and animals who reside in the rocks.

These monuments are a home to the shy but prominent Aqami lizard. This reptile loves to flaunt its bright color and then camouflages the rock as it shies away when a visitor or a predator approaches. Likewise, big stones that have caverns are a sanctuary to various birds species. Evidence of their presence and activity are the nests and waste deposits on the crevices and surfaces of these flints. The area is also inhabited by the baboons.

Patches of yellow, violet, white and pink flowers would welcome a plant enthusiast. The flowering wilds, along with some species of grass, are the camel's and sheep's favorite grazing recipes.

Trees, which find a strong support, in the crevices of these stones, are interesting sights to see. They do not only add color to the relatively dull but spectacular environment, they also provide shade for flocks and resting place for shepherd and visitors alike.

As we drove back, we chanced upon a magnificent rock formation that is undoubtedly, the grandest of them all. I named it the "Queen of the Rock". Over the near-edge of a stone, the Queen - with a tapered tip - stands majestically in perfect equilibrium, in an upside down manner, i.e., the pointed edge at the bottom. It looked like it's other-worldly and incredible, to say the least, but for one who believes in the power of the One, this stunning nature's work of art is not unbelievable, after all.

A potential tourist attraction, this natural heritage the region is bestowed with, must be preserved at all costs, especially now that real estate development is booming in Asir.

This beautiful plant is a favorite food amongst camels and sheep.
This beautiful plant is a favorite food amongst camels and sheep. | Source
The baboons are permanent residents of the area.
The baboons are permanent residents of the area. | Source
Can You See Her? An Aqami lizard on top of the stunning rock formation.
Can You See Her? An Aqami lizard on top of the stunning rock formation. | Source
The trees, sporadically spread in the area, provide the much needed shelter for the shepherd and his flock.
The trees, sporadically spread in the area, provide the much needed shelter for the shepherd and his flock. | Source

Comments

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    • Millionaire I am profile imageAUTHOR

      Marjun Angolluan Canceran 

      4 weeks ago from Saudi Arabia

      Thank you for the compliments @mvbatrina, Eman and Edward. God bless you all. Thanks for inspiring me to write more.

    • profile image

      mvbatrina 

      4 weeks ago

      very interesting.. i've personally seen those rock fomation by myself but seeing it in an article really catches my attention.. telling to myself with a smile, "napuntahan ko rin yan" reminding me of my years in Saudi Arabia. thanks bro Marjun!

    • Emmy ali profile image

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      4 weeks ago from Egypt

      A very informative article. The rock formations are wonderful.

    • edhan profile image

      Edward Han 

      4 weeks ago from Singapore

      This is really amazing! It should be one of the Wonders in the world. I love seeing stuff like this. Thanks for sharing!

    • Millionaire I am profile imageAUTHOR

      Marjun Angolluan Canceran 

      4 weeks ago from Saudi Arabia

      Thanks, Liz.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      4 weeks ago from UK

      This is a well-illustrated and very interesting article.

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