JEDDAH: The famous Zubaida Trail, also known as the Kufi pilgrimage route, once served thousands of pilgrims each year from Iraq and some parts of the Levant Region to the holy sites. It stretches more than 1,600 kilometers from Kufa in Iraq, though Saudi Arabia’s Northern Borders Region and into Makkah.
The ancient path was once a common trade route in the pre-Islamic era and was later used by worshippers following the spread of Islam. The trail makes its way through the desert of the Kingdom’s southwest and actually passes through five regions: the Northern Borders, Hail, Qassim, Madinah and Makkah. It was listed among the projects of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Program for the Care of Cultural Heritage being implemented by the then Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage within the framework of its National Transformation Program initiatives.
The Zubaida Trail became one of the most important pilgrimage and commercial routes during the Abbasid Era between the years 750 and 1258. Back then, it became the link between Baghdad, the Two Holy Mosques and the rest of Arabia.
It was named after Zubaida Bint Jaafar, wife of the Abbasid Caliph Harun Al Rashid, who contributed to its construction.
The trail features 27 stations, each separated by 50 km, along with secondary stations or rest stops. Over time, houses and other facilities were built along the trail.
Markers on the road guide pilgrims as water collection pools were established in select locations to ensure pilgrims would have plentiful access. Some of the most important stations on the trail include the pools of Al-Dhafiri, Al-Amya, Al-Thulaimiya, Al-Jumaimiyah, Zabala, Umm Al-Asafir, Hamad, and Al-Ashar among others.
Saudi authorities have worked on including the trail among the Kingdom’s 10 most significant heritage sites that were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.