In-Kingdom Travel

Hafar al-Batin: Springtime in the Eastern Province

Three miles northwest of Dhahran, the desert opens up like a smile in the shoulder season.

Hafar al-Batin: Springtime in the Eastern Province

A three-hour drive northwest of Dhahran, the desert is blooming with life.


The landscape from Nariya to Hafar al-Batin, a further two-and-a-half hours away has sprouted seasonal green grass and wildflowers.


Nariya, a governorate of 52,000 residents has plenty of green landscape to enjoy. Some tourists then proceed 70 km northward to Qaryat al-'Ulya, “the upper village” in Arabic, which has witnessed important events in the formation of the Saudi state.

Other tourists then drive to the Hafar al-Batin Governorate, which is 500 km northwest of Dhahran and has around 382,000 residents. Hafar al-Batin city has the only dam in the Eastern Region.


The dam was built to stop the city flooding from the al-Batin Wadi, part of the mighty Ramah Wadi, which starts in the Medina Region, and crosses the Qasim and Eastern regions for 1,000 km.

Desert truffles

Locals and tourists alike go looking for desert truffles, called “faqae,” in the Hafar al-Batin area. The delicacies are also available for purchase from the vegetable market in the city. The area is also known for its livestock, and it is common for butchers from Dammam to source meat from here.


Hafar al-Batin’s location presents many options to tourists with bigger travel plans. From here you can go to Kuwait via the Ar-Ruq’i crossing, which is 110 km northeast of the city; Riyadh, which is 500 km to the south; or continue northwest to 'Ar'ar, Sakaka, or Jordan.

This desert thriving with plants and flowers attracts many domestic, and in normal times international tourists, and it is common for hotels to have high occupancy rates this time of the year.


Those wishing to avoid the caravan of trucks streaming from the Dammam port to Jubail Industrial City can take the Dhahran-Jubail expressway, then turn via Road 6 in Jubail to Expressway 95, and eventually take a left to Road 85.


Travelers are advised to ensure they have sufficient supplies, a suitable vehicle, and have informed someone about their planned route and return time. 


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