Backpacking in Saudi Arabia: Touring Jubbah and Jebel Umm Sanman Petroglyphs

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia: Touring Jubbah and Jebel Umm Sanman

“Ridahah Ridahah ” – Arabic Desert Song.

While based in Hail City in Saudi Arabia we did two day trips out into the remote desert. The second of these days was a trip to the historic settlement of Jubba, Jubbah. I had never heard of Jubbah before! In fact some of us knew only of Juba in South Sudan. But off we went.

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia: Touring Jubbah and Jabal Umm Sanman Petroglyphs

The previous day’s hike to Tamarun and later Mashar National Park brought reminders instantly back from my 2013 adventure to Jordan. On that trip I celebrated 10 years to the day since I left Northern Ireland by touring Wadi Rum in the desert of Jordan. But today in Jubba I was reminded of Azerbaijan and our trip to Qobustan UNESCO world heritage site, also in 2013.

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia: Touring Jubbah and Jabal Umm Sanman Petroglyphs

That memorable tour in 2013 was part of a 4month stint in the Middle East and Caucases where we backpacked a load of countries such as Palestine, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Nagorno Karabakh, Iraq, Iran, Qatar and United Arab Emirates. Here in April 2018 it was Saudi Arabia and Oman for me. This day trip to Jubbah and Jabal Umm Sanman went like this.

Hail City to Jubbah
We left Hail City early morning for the 100 kilometre drive North West to Jubbah. We drove pretty directly to Jubbah. There was a petrol station stop to buy bread, drinks and a butane gas bottle (for heating coffee later).

The drive from Hail to Jubbah

The drive from Hail to Jubbah

The drive from Hail to Jubbah

After arriving in Jubba, we drove through the city then North West to Jabal Umm Sanman.

Exploring Jubba
On arrival at Jubba you need to head outside the city. Your guide can take you there, we were here with Young Pioneer Tours and led within the country with associates of Haya Tour. Our guide for this trip was actually called Saud, but he didn’t want to be photographed or for any publicity to go his way. In Jubbah City itself, we didn’t do much touring. It was a very low lying city with not much happening. The highlight from Jubbah was touring the sand dunes on the edge of town, where we were guided by our tour leader, Marko.

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia – Sand Dunes at Jubbah

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia – Sand Dunes at Jubbah

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia – Sand Dunes at Jubbah

Petroglyphs at Jabal Umm Sanman

We spent around 2 hours at the Petroglyphs here at Jabal Umm Sanman (the name of which is not entirely clear or well publicised I must add). If you were backpacking it alone, this place would be pretty hard to find! I found a website with some details on it, and I picked up a decent amount of travel documents while backpacking Saudi Arabia.

Touring the Petroglyphs at Jabal Umm Sanman

Touring the Petroglyphs at Jabal Umm Sanman

Touring the Petroglyphs at Jabal Umm Sanman

Touring the Petroglyphs at Jebel Umm Sanman

There was a very short walk between the two different rock face sections we were to visit. Each petroglyph featured animals and men. Some camels, cattle, horses and humans. Some of the humans were holding weapons. Many people believe that these petroglyphs are the most intriguing pre-Islamic site in the entire country. Personally I am not sure about this opinion but certainly these rocks are special as the carvings and inscriptions date back to the year 1000 BC.

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia: Touring Jubbah and Jebel Umm Sanman Petroglyphs

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia: Touring Jubbah and Jebel Umm Sanman Petroglyphs

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia: Touring Jubbah and Jebel Umm Sanman Petroglyphs

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia: Touring Jubbah and Jebel Umm Sanman Petroglyphs

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia: Touring Jubbah and Jebel Umm Sanman Petroglyphs

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia: Touring Jubbah and Jebel Umm Sanman Petroglyphs

The reason for the two hours at Jebel Umm Sanman was about an hour of checking out the rocks and getting an explanation about them and then we were invited into the small office for tea, coffee, dates and biscuits. I guess the onyl other really cool thing here was the remoteness of it all – I mean there were no other tourists here and it just felt so so remote. If I had backpacked it alone, I would have struggled when the sun went down. Hitch-hiking doesn’t seem to be an option in such wilderness and I cannot ride a camel.

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia: Touring Jubbah and Jebel Umm Sanman Petroglyphs

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia: Touring Jubbah and Jebel Umm Sanman Petroglyphs

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia: Touring Jubbah and Jebel Umm Sanman Petroglyphs

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia: Touring Jubbah and Jebel Umm Sanman Petroglyphs

Watching AFC Bournemouth lose to Liverpool at the ofiice beside Jebel Umm Sanman Petroglyphs

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia: Touring Jubbah and Jebel Umm Sanman Petroglyphs

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia: Touring Jubbah and Jebel Umm Sanman Petroglyphs

Just before we left behind the dreamy desert petroglyphs of Jebel Umm Sanman Petroglyphs, the television in the office showed the highlights of the Liverpool v. AFC Bournemouth match. I didn’t even expect the TV would work. Myself and three Saudi Arabians watched it. The irony that it was my team AFC Bournemouth being humbled 3-0 by an Egyptian King (as with the Petroglyphs sculpture!) – Mohammed Salah!

Watching AFC Bournemouth lose to Liverpool at the office beside Jebel Umm Sanman Petroglyphs

Watching AFC Bournemouth lose to Liverpool at the office beside Jebel Umm Sanman Petroglyphs

How to Organise a trip to Jubbah and Jebel Umm Sanman Petroglyphs
As Saudi Arabia continues to develop its tourist potential, there are still no tourist visas available. However, if like me you have a work event, a business opportunity or commerce, you can get a business visa. Once you have that, organise your trip with two of my partners, Young Pioneer Tours and Haya Tours:

Young Pioneer Tours
office@youngpioneertours.com
No. 2804 South Block Lijing Building, Caiwuwei, Jintang Road 48#, Guiyuan Street, Luohu District, Shenzhen City, 518000, CHINA

Haya Tour
First Floor, Alia Plaza, Exit 6,
Cnr: Thumamah Road and Abi Bakr As-Siddiq Street,
Ar Rabi, Riyadh 13316
Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia
Email: info@hayatour.com

Here are some videos from my time exploring Jubba and nearby desert areas while backpacking in Saudi Arabia:

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