Zee Ain Heritage Village in Al-Baha Region

Photo by Jarek Pokrzywnicki.

Zee Ain Heritage Village in Al-Baha Region is part of the Tentative list of Saudi Arabia in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

Zee Ain is a traditional village built on a mountain top and fed by a natural spring. Forts defend the village. The surrounding lands are used for the cultivation of banana, lemon, pepper and basil. It dates back about 400 years.

Map of Zee Ain Heritage Village in Al-Baha Region

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The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.

Community Reviews

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Martina Rúčková

Slovakia - 30-Dec-22 -

Zee Ain Heritage Village in Al-Baha Region (T) by Martina Ruckova

Zee (also marked as Thee) Ain Heritage Village is a nice detour on the drive from Jeddah to Abha and we enjoyed our visit, I have to say more than Wojciech did. The best visit is definitely by a car as it's off the main road and there are some nice viewpoints along the way. The village is a lovely cluster of houses built out of polished stone, which gave it a moniker of Marble Village. Its official name comes after the river that gathers its water from nearby mountains. It was established in the tenth century and many large tribal battles and invasions took place on its grounds before Saudi unification. The most prominent battle that took place in this region was when the collective force of Zahran and Ghamd tribes clashed with the Turkish army led by Muhammad Ali Pasha. This battle ended with the Turks being defeated. The village still houses the tombs of the Turks. The village was abandoned 30 to 40 years ago and only recently became touted as a new tourist destination, emphasised by the WHS nomination.

The tourist infrastructure is already firmly in place with a large parking lot and equally large visitor's centre, consisting mostly of infopanels in various languages about the geology of the place, village history and some information about its former inhabitants and their culture. It's free and air-conditioned. After the introductory visit, it's all the way up the stone steps, along the houses - some ways to the upper or lower levels can actually be found inside the houses - don't be afraid to explore. The views are lovely and we were surprised by a large family of baboons casually walking around the village. 

My only complaint would be the emptiness - after visiting Ait Benhaddou recently with many shops and guides around, it definitely feels empty, if not even sterile, as there is nothing inside the newly-reconstructed buildings. But this can easily be improved and I hope the authorities, after finishing the reconstruction (yep, some work was being done as we visited the village), will add some touches to make the village look more alive and cozy.

Wojciech Fedoruk

Poland - 07-Sep-22 -

Zee Ain Heritage Village in Al-Baha Region (T) by Wojciech Fedoruk

Zee Ain (Thee Ain) is a stone village built in the fashion of traditional villages from the region. Zee Ain is a model example of Saudi Arabia's approach to tourist attractions. It looks beautiful from a distance and should be one of the top attractions of the country - all stone, very photogenic on the slope of the mountain. I drove up to the village itself, left the car in a large parking lot and headed up the hill. There was a couple of tourists on the spot, and otherwise a complete void. No ranger, no souvenir seller, no signs of life at all! I walked freely between the buildings, but apart from stones and wood, there was absolutely nothing there - no written information. Maybe as part of the Vision 2030 something will change here, for now it looks a bit strange.
Zee Ain is located on the main road, so getting there is not difficult. From Zee Ain close to Jabal Shada, a wonderful nature reserve, one of Saudi Arabia's greatest attractions.

Full Name
Zee Ain Heritage Village in Al-Baha Region
Saudi Arabia
Urban landscape - Arabic and Middle Eastern
2015 Added to Tentative List

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Zee Ain Heritage Village in Al-Baha Region (T)
WHS 1997-2024