Setting up on tradition: The enduring enchantment of Hail’s mud houses

Frances Lawson

RIYADH: Outdated neighborhoods in the heart of the town of Hail, in northern Saudi Arabia, are well-liked sights, specifically with more mature people who like to wander close to and look at the traditional mud homes that remind them of their childhood days. In new several years, there has been […]

RIYADH: Outdated neighborhoods in the heart of the town of Hail, in northern Saudi Arabia, are well-liked sights, specifically with more mature people who like to wander close to and look at the traditional mud homes that remind them of their childhood days.

In new several years, there has been a resurgence of fascination in the location in these structures, both equally the surviving examples of people crafted a century back and the extra recent buildings that mimic their fashion.

Mohammed Al-Na’am is the supervisor of a number of Al-Na’am heritage homes. These qualities, which are owned by his relatives and were developed several many years in the past, are open up 24 hours a day to site visitors and passers-by, who can quit by for a coffee and some foods or even remain the evening. There are quite a few other houses across the Hail region that are equally welcoming, he explained.

His heritage properties are commonly chaotic with visitors from Hail and further than, who recognize the generosity of their hosts, he reported. Most of those people who take a look at the residences, the origins of which day back again as significantly as 1500 Ad, are significantly amazed by the ornately adorned partitions and ceilings, which have been restored and renovated with a contemporary contact, Al-Na’am additional.

“Hail is replete with historic heritage due to the fact it is an historic region recognised for its generosity and hospitality,” he reported. “This clarifies the curiosity in the ancient structures of the region.”

The traditional buildings in the location differ from people in other sections of the Kingdom, and some other Gulf nations around the world, for the reason that they were intended and developed with the assistance of Iraqi professionals and architects and so incorporate unique plaster decorations in a variety of shapes and varieties, he explained. Some illustrations have been properly taken care of and preserved although many others are in need of restoration.

While this standard design of making enjoys enduring popularity, Al-Na’am mentioned, the superior price tag of developing mud properties and the need to have for constant servicing means that contemporary variations are usually developed utilizing concrete. This enables the classic mud-household design and style to be preserved whilst lessening the charge of building and servicing.

“Some modern-day properties maintain the traditional structure made use of in historical properties and use the very same model of decorations, specially those in the town center,” he explained. But this type of ancient buildings initially developed and distribute in the villages of the region, not in the town.


The common structures in the region differ from people in other areas of the Kingdom, and some other Gulf countries, mainly because they were being built and crafted with the enable of Iraqi experts and architects and so involve distinctive plaster decorations in a selection of shapes and forms. Some examples have been nicely managed and preserved while some others are in need of restoration.

A person characteristic of these structures is the style of the majlis or sitting rooms, which frequently have comparatively high ceilings to make it a lot easier to hold the area very clear of smoke from the hearth for the duration of the winter and hold it cool in the summertime, explained Al-Na’am.

“Most of the sitting down rooms are adorned with plaster showcasing geometric styles,” he included. “However, today’s buildings use gypsum plaster and cement, which have decrease charges.”

Some men and women keep on to retain the aged traditions alive by performing with authentic elements. Abdullah Al-Khuzam, a member of the Countrywide Software for the Growth of Handicrafts, has been passionate about constructing mud houses for much more than 30 many years.

He stated he mixes the mud he works by using, and that other products employed in the building involve tree trunks and palm-tree fronds. He explained the Hail architectural style as tough and solid, with solid walls ranging in thickness from 30 to 40 centimeters. Mixing the mud is a sensitive approach that needs exclusive techniques, and is not as random as it might seem, he extra.

“For example, sure parts of the creating require a certain amount of mud and clay and a certain quantity of soil,” he stated. “For other elements, mud and soil are blended and tender hay is added. The mixture is fermented for seven to 14 days in advance of development begins.”

Al-Khuzam, who is also a properly-recognised great artist, has taken aspect in a lot of heritage exhibitions in the Kingdom and other countries.

“My participation in these functions aimed to endorse our standard heritage and introduce the subsequent generations to the regular methods our forefathers utilised,” he explained. The conventional patterns and development approaches used in outdated structures mirrored the values and beliefs of the community, said Al-Khuzam. It was typical, for case in point, for doorways in mud houses to be positioned in these types of a way that they did not expose the inside of the home. A wall would block the look at. Decorations had been also an critical portion of the style approach.

“Our forefathers compensated particular interest to the sitting room’s design, which reflected their flavor in art and architecture,” he reported. “The majority of sitting rooms have been embellished with engravings on the partitions as very well as Qur’anic verses, intelligent proverbs and drawings of crops.”

The majlis, in which guests have been hosted, was known as al-qahwa (the espresso area), he discussed, and the spot overlooking the property was referred to as liwan (summer time majlis).

Just one characteristic that sets homes in Hail aside from all those in other parts, according to Al-Khuzam, is the lawn. Commonly, it is a big place with an orange tree in the center. Orange trees live a very long time and are a signature feature of yards in Hail. Some also have palm trees.

One more notable element of architecture in the area is something known as a “dome,” which is situated in entrance of the developing. It is where the people of the residence traditionally spend most of their time all through the summer time. It also helps to shield the relaxation of the dwelling from the solar and rain.

The earlier pointed out majlis or sitting room in the heart of the house is where household associates obtain throughout the cold times of winter season and mild a fire to maintain heat. The heads of the loved ones occupy the key bedroom, even though the little ones share rooms that are divided in between boys and girls.

A person of the nicest sections of a conventional Hail property is known as “al-qubaiba.” Situated off a corridor or a corner, it is a modest space normally utilized by gals, especially the elderly, to pray. A clay pot filled with h2o is saved there to hold it amazing.

Al-Khuzam’s enduring passion for Hail’s aged structures is distinct.

“I have been prepared to do just about anything for the sake of this cherished heritage and legacy,” he claimed. “I was glad when I listened to that the Ministry of Tradition experienced decided to restore the heritage sitting rooms in the town of Hail. These community areas represent an essential element of the traditions and values of the folks of Hail, reflecting their generosity to guests and passers-by. Some of them are open up from just after Asr prayers right up until midnight.

“I was a member of the group that restored these sitting down rooms. I am grateful for the authorities’ guidance and for giving us the option to put our touches on the historic structures in the area.”

Mohammed Al-Halfi, a historian and doctorate pupil at King Saud College, mentioned a residence represents a element of a family’s identification and delivers an perception into their history. Residences created close collectively are indicative of the shut relationships in between the people that lived in them, he stated.

They reveal how these folks prepared their life with each other and developed homes that reflected their environments and surroundings, he added. In the rural desert atmosphere, recognized for its harshness and extreme summer months heat, mud properties helped to regulate the temperature.

“Using mud in architecture turned an art hundreds of decades back, and continue to is,” claimed Al-Halfi. “Guest and dwelling rooms in today’s properties have the same type as the outdated types, and this demonstrates our delight in this id and our heritage.”

He added that a examine of the products, style and design and design approaches that had been employed to make the mud houses reveals the know-how of the builders. They took into account all aspects to guarantee the constructions ended up correctly suited to the local disorders, together with the terrain and weather, and even the rising and placing of the solar.

“We have to look at mud residences as a historical resource when finding out any society,” stated Al-Halfi. “These properties are entitled to to be researched, economically and socially, to get extra facts about the group at the time.

“That is why we obtain mud houses differ from one particular region to a further, in accordance to the cultures of their inhabitants and the developing prerequisites available in their environments.”

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