Wadi Hanifah is a 120-km wadi (valley) that runs from the Kingdom’s northwest to Southeast along the capital city of Riyadh.
It’s a popular weekend destination for many families, often a serene spot for a chilled-out picnic or just a place to bask in of one of nature’s many astonishing landscapes.
The valley, along with the city, comes with a myriad of historical past that we’re going to learn a little more about in this article:
(Image Credits: Social Media/ Instagram @ludacris_ulla & daralarkandev)
1. The Wadi Hanifa was called ‘al- Irdh‘ during the pre-Islamic Saudi era
According to online sources, its older name al-Irdh was derived from Banu Hanifa which was, at its time, the main Arab tribe in the area.
The tribe Bani Hanifah inhabited the valley during the fifth century AD, fyi.
2. It is the longest and most important valley near Riyadh
AKDN says that the Hanifa Valley is the most important one near Riyadh and this is probably due to its natural water drainage course in a wide area of 4,000 square kms and of course, the fact that it’s a unique scene unexpected from Riyadh’s dry region.
3. History claims that the valley was also part of the ancient kingdom of al-Yamamah
Since rain fell heavily in the region during the Kingdom’s pre-historic times, this aspect became part of the local folk tradition that says the area where the valley now sits once had a rich oasis and fertile farmland.
The ancient kingdom of al-Yamamah were the ones to reflect on this local folk tradition. A continuation of the story mentioned God’s wrath and visitation of a plague of locusts and drought that the land never recovered from.
Hard to imagine this oasis not being intact, which brings us to our next fact…
4. A major 10-year restoration took place to create the Wadi Hanifa you see today…
Parts of the valley were used for rubbish or as dumping grounds which led to the horrible environmental effects to Hanifa. Picnickers who used to fish, go swimming and well picnic loitered areas and its natural water flow was stopped.
Thanks to The Wadi Hanifah Restoration Project, a 10-year-long restoration and development plan helped recreate what you now know as the lush and green valley of Hanifah.
(Let’s continue taking care of it and not leaving rubbish behind, please.)
5. The increase in the Wadi’s water has led to many positive results for sustainable consumption and living
Since the increase in surface water from the Wadi, more date palms have managed to blossom.
Another impressive feat is that the treated water is distributed free of charge from the government to farmers, using water to run the largest oil refinery in the Kingdom and pumping back an amount of the water back to Riyadh for use in public parks and gardens.