NidalM Photography  /  Blog  /  Travelography  /  The Mountains of Makkah

The Mountains of Makkah

The landscape of Western Saudi Arabia is vastly different from what you might expect from a desert country. Yes it is still a desert, but a very rocky one, unlike the endless rolling dunes of the rest of the country. It is also home to some of the most important mountains in the history of Islam. The ancient city of Ta’if is on a mountain. Jabal Rahmah and Jabal Al-Noor, where Islam began are both in the mountainous area of Makkah.

Traveling with friend and guide Turki and Baraa, we would be heading to a more out of the way mountain for our camping trip. Nestled between the valleys of Wadi-No’man and Wadi-Mehrim is a tall peak, which would otherwise be rather unremarkable as one flies past on the highway. This mountain, however, is very popular among expats and well known to provide an amazing view of the Makkan plains.

1/250s @ 24mm (Sigma 24-70mm), f/5.6 ISO100
The road to the mountain passes through Wadi Mehrim, and can be reached through a short drive from Hada. You’ll need a 4×4 to get there though, and expect a VERY bumpy ride.

1/500s @ 24mm (Sigma 24-70mm), f/5.6 ISO100
The peak itself. Doesn’t seem that high from here but we’ve already driven up a large distance by car.

1/400s @ 24mm (Sigma 24-70mm), f/5.6 ISO100
That’s how I look in mule mode. We had supplies, tents, firewood and photo equipment all loaded onto us. What’s the protocol on reporting yourself for human rights violations?

1/250s @ 24mm (Sigma 24-70mm), f/5.6 ISO100
The view at the top was all worth it in the end. Mountains as far as the eye can see. And an AMAZING place to commit suicide!

1/160s @ 24mm (Sigma 24-70mm), f/5.6 ISO100
Now to set up those tents… hmm. That rocky ground was awfully hard. It felt weird trying to sleep with something poking you in the back… wait.. that sounded all wrong..!

1/200s @ 10mm (Sigma 10-20mm), f/8 ISO100
AND WE HAVE FACEBOOK! *cue divine music*. There’s a cell tower somewhere in that valley fueling my crack addiction. And yes I have blacked out that cellphone screen. You don’t need to know who I was stalking. ;P

1/100s @ 10mm (Sigma 10-20mm), f/8 ISO100
Dubbed “Seat of Kings”, this natural rock throne is an amazing place to sit as the sun goes down. All these romantic places…!

1/320s @ 10mm (Sigma 10-20mm), f/8 ISO100
Sunset over the mountains of Makkah. Moment of silence. It was beautiful…. now wheres the food?

8s @ 26mm (Sigma 24-70mm), f/8 ISO100
Another ‘oh wow’ moment. The crescent moon of Shaban (8th month in the lunar calendar) appeared over the plains of Arafah. Ramadan 1430AH is now exactly a month away.

1/30s @ 24mm (Sigma 24-70mm), f/3.2 ISO800
Nights can get cold in the mountains. Being ‘all manly’ and all, I elected to wear shorts up there. So did Turki and Baraa. We spent the night telling Jinn stories. It was cool.

1/80s @ 10mm (Sigma 10-20mm), f/5.6 ISO100
Mornings on the mountain offer some amazing sights. But they are a tad cold. Also, sleeping up there makes you sluggish.

1/50s @ 50mm (Canon 50mm), f/5 ISO100
Living in the city, you forget how quiet things can get… There’s a reason Muhammad (PBUH) would come into these mountains to meditate.

1/60s @ 14mm (Sigma 10-20mm), f/9 ISO100
It is still advisable to get the hell off the mountain before noon sets in however. This is still Saudi and unless you plan to cook your lunch on the burning rocks, breaking camp is always a good idea..!

Ever been to any of the mountains around Makkah?
Know of any of any other great places to see in the area?
Share your experience! I’d love to hear about it.



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  • http://precognitive.wordpress.com Qusay

    Lovely pics, are you all photographers? I saw… or think I saw a lot of equipment.

  • NidalM

    Baraa (guy in the third picture) is also a photographer. Though he didn’t have his camera on him for this leg of the journey.

  • http://precognitive.wordpress.com Qusay

    Cool, I’m sure you had fun. Just a little request, please tweet this on twitter so we can re-tweet new post… these gems should not be hidden ;)

  • Filza

    That pic of you sitting looking towards the camera which is on your left – that pic needs to be your display pic! – it’s pretty scary, but tight at the same time ;P

    PS: You’re a good photographer :)

  • NidalM

    Qusay, thanks for the tweets, and the kind words :)

    Filza, You know you are too. My current FB pic was taken by u ;P

  • Filza

    Yea, but you’re a 100x better photographer than me mashAllah. :)

  • Chiara

    Very impressive–you certainly give a new impression of Saudi Arabia and its people to the rest of us. So, normal! LOL :)

  • http://al-kanz.org Al-Kanz

    “The crescent moon of Shaban” Mâ ch-a’a-Lâh !

  • NidalM

    Sure, if you'd consider climbing up mountains and hiking for miles 'normal' ;P

  • http://www.nidalm.com/blog/ NidalM

    Sure, if you'd consider climbing up mountains and hiking for miles 'normal' ;P

  • Chiara

    Let's just say you guys are a lot tougher and more self-motivated than the group of male adolescents from another GCC country, which shall remain nameless, that I was the camp counsellor-translator for in the Alps. Ah, but then you are Saudi, and far more mature, older men, not boys. LOL :) :P :)

  • Chiara

    Let's just say you guys are a lot tougher and more self-motivated than the group of male adolescents from another GCC country, which shall remain nameless, that I was the camp counsellor-translator for in the Alps. Ah, but then you are Saudi, and far more mature, older men, not boys. LOL :) :P :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/nidalm Abdullah Nidal Mohiuddin

    I'd love to hear THAT story lol. Though you're right. Most Saudi guys will tend to sit around a campfire and play cards :P

  • http://www.nidalm.com/blog/ NidalM

    I'd love to hear THAT story lol. Though you're right. Most Saudi guys will tend to sit around a campfire and play cards :P

  • Chiara

    Which part: how I got the job by insisting in French that I really would have no trouble handling the English; being ignorant of the country involved at the time and assuming I was being hired to interpret for a UK boy scout troup; the scandal (and praying) resulting from accidental pork consumption; spending a night searching an Alp with a flashlight looking for a little French Jean Gabin type's guinea pig (not found may he RIP); the impact on 10 adolescents used to servants of living in… hmmm… sparse conditions; the stunning impact of all 10 in traditional white thobes and headcovering suddenly appearing on the crest of an Alp? Let me know! LOL :)

  • Chiara

    Which part: how I got the job by insisting in French that I really would have no trouble handling the English; being ignorant of the country involved at the time and assuming I was being hired to interpret for a UK boy scout troup; the scandal (and praying) resulting from accidental pork consumption; spending a night searching an Alp with a flashlight looking for a little French Jean Gabin type's guinea pig (not found may he RIP); the impact on 10 adolescents used to servants of living in… hmmm… sparse conditions; the stunning impact of all 10 in traditional white thobes and headcovering suddenly appearing on the crest of an Alp? Let me know! LOL :)

  • http://fnaim.blogspot.com/ Filza

    I think the “Seat of Kings” picture, needs to be your FB profile picture like SOON :)

    Have a safe trip, inshAllah speak to you in a week-ish!? Don't you DARE take longer than that ;P

    Have fun mista!

  • http://fnaim.blogspot.com/ Filza

    I think the “Seat of Kings” picture, needs to be your FB profile picture like SOON :)

    Have a safe trip, inshAllah speak to you in a week-ish!? Don't you DARE take longer than that ;P

    Have fun mista!

  • susieofarabia

    Hi Nidal – These photos are awesome! I love the layers upon layers of mountains that get mistier looking the farther away they are. There are parts of Arizona, which is where I grew up, that look similar to this mountainous terrain.
    Wish I had a great camera like yours!

  • http://susiesbigadventure.blogspot.com/ Susie of Arabia

    Hi Nidal – These photos are awesome! I love the layers upon layers of mountains that get mistier looking the farther away they are. There are parts of Arizona, which is where I grew up, that look similar to this mountainous terrain.
    Wish I had a great camera like yours!

  • http://susiesbigadventure.blogspot.com/ Susie of Arabia

    Hi Nidal – These photos are awesome! I love the layers upon layers of mountains that get mistier looking the farther away they are. There are parts of Arizona, which is where I grew up, that look similar to this mountainous terrain.
    Wish I had a great camera like yours!

  • http://susiesbigadventure.blogspot.com/ Susie of Arabia

    Hi Nidal – These photos are awesome! I love the layers upon layers of mountains that get mistier looking the farther away they are. There are parts of Arizona, which is where I grew up, that look similar to this mountainous terrain.
    Wish I had a great camera like yours!

  • sy

    really love your photographs :-)
    sy

    http://www.sysprints.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.nidalm.com/blog/ Anonymous

    Thanks Sy :) And thank you for stopping by.

    Seems like you’re quite the snapper as well!

  • http://ramadanwallpaper.com/blog/ramadan-ramadan-75/ Ramadan Ramadan| Ramadan Wallpaper Blog

    [...] 1430AH Image by NidalM This was taken while camping in the mountains of Makkah, not too far from Jabal Al-Nour (where the Qur’an was revealed and Islam [...]

  • Anila

    I don’t know how old this post is but i’ll ask anyway, brother Nidal can i have your permission to use only one of your photos above for my book I am writing for children about Umrah.  Allah swt will reward you for helping me in this matter InshAllah.

  • http://www.nidalm.com/blog/ Anonymous

    Sure go ahead. Send me an email if you need a hi-res one (use the contact section of the site). All I ask is that you credit me somewhere in the book :)

  • Anila Mughal

    Jazakum Allah Khair brother, i just saw your reply! I be honest I wasn’t sure to expect a reply :-)
    But anyway, thank you again and inshaAllah i will have your name on the Photograph and your website address in the reference.

  • Amr A. Ibrahim

    May I too brother? :) I’m writing a story called “Alone in Makkah”, about an introvert Muslim youth who went for Umrah and is getting thoughts there.

  • http://www.nidalm.com/blog/ Anonymous

    Of course! Link back the story here when you’re done, I’d love to read it!

  • http://publicawaz.blogspot.com/ Andleeb

    Rocks , rocks and rocks everywhere ,,,, but wait , I have also seen, I am not sure if it is small Pine ???? or some bush????
    Amazing photography
    By the way ( as I read later that you have blacked out screen of your cell ) I thought it was broken after falling on rocks and you wanted to share your pain

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