Monday, May 20, 2013

Ushaiger Heritage Village

My Article on Destination Riyadh May 2013 Travel Issue: Ushaiger Village

Ushaiger village is located approximately 180km NW out of Riyadh and is one of the oldest mud villages in the Najd region. What makes Ushaiger special is the fact that some of the local families treasured their heritage so much they decided to renovate some buildings and parts of the town back to its old glory. And all this from their own pockets! Ushaiger, which means “the little blonde”, was named after the red mountain that stands next to it.  The first inhabitants settled here around 1500 years ago and the village served as a common stopping point for pilgrims going for Hajj.


Visiting Ushaiger is well worth the approximately one and a half hour drive from Riyadh. The entire day can easily surpass by wandering around the narrow streets and seemingly endless alleyways.  In addition to the myriad of different types of mud houses, the village has two schools, a marketplace, a museum, a heritage house and many picturesque mosques, some of which are still in use.

Ushaiger is surrounded by an oasis and ancient farmlands which the inhabitants utilized by creating a complex irrigation and water collection system. The aim was to preserve and distribute the precious water derived from one of the many interconnected wells around the village.
The people of Ushaiger are known to be very friendly and here you can experience the famous Saudi hospitality at its best. The locals can regularly be seen sitting on benches chatting and reading newspapers. The villagers are always willing to help visitors and show them around their much adored little town. Visitors will often be invited into one of the renovated mud houses for Arabic coffee and dates or if you’re lucky and they have time, guests are welcomed to join in on the family dinner.


The interiors of these mud and straw houses are astonishing in detail and architecture; here one truly gets the feel of stepping back in time.  Natural light enters the houses from the open air roofs and the many triangular windows distinctive to the Najdi style. Antique lanterns and traditional fireplaces further create a mysterious atmosphere inside the humble homes of the Ushaiger people.



Take time to browse the museum which the villagers have set up from various artifacts and old relics collected from the inhabitants. The museum keepers will be more than happy to guide you around and explain in detail the history of each item. They have a superb collection of traditional clothing including old abayas which are surprisingly colorful and intricate in detail.





There’s a small outdoor restaurant near the entrance overlooking the palm tree oasis which makes for a nice ending to the day. It’s recommended to drive up the nearby mountain for magnificent views down to the village.
Ushaiger village is peaceful, beautiful and serene and makes for a humbling and enlightening experience.




11 comments:

Naif said...

Ushaiger is a small village next to Shaqra/Shagra. why didn't you go to Shaqra there are a lot of fast food joints there like pizza hut,kudu,kfc,herfy...
we have a farm there I'm from Shaqra.
& there's a place that is so nice in Ushaiger called Ushaiger Mountain it's really nice it has a park on it with playing areas for kids & the views is very nice.

Jerry Mc Kenna said...

Lovely photographs. It sounds like a wonderful place to visit.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Beautiful. Another place on my list of things to see in Saudi.

Jerry Mc Kenna said...

Nice photos. It looks like a great place to visit.

Layla said...

Niaf- I've been to Shagra too, very nice little mud village there as well.

Layla said...

Thank you Jerry and Omani Princess :)

Bigstick said...

Very nice.

Hyderabadi Ustad said...

I only have one question:

How in the name of Allah do you find these places? (Spoken in a very thick Yindian accent)

I have been in Saudi for a long time and have never even heard of them. Maybe a job in SCTA beckons? :-)

drtaher said...

I wish I had read about Ushaiger a few weeks earlier. I was in Riyadh in the second week of May and missed going there ... anyways, there is always another time. Thanks for sharing about this lovely location, Layla.

Layla said...

Hyberabadi- I guess just by reading other blogs, from guide books, and then just through the grapevine :)

Thanks for the comment, I would love to work for SCTA! Would be an honor! But I think they only hire Saudis..

Layla said...

Drtaher-thanks!