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 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.