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Hejaz or Hedjaz (both: hējăzˈ, hĕjäzˈ), region, c.150,000 sq mi (388,500 sq km), NW Saudi Arabia, on the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea. Mecca is the chief city. Extending S to Asir, Hejaz is mainly a dissected highland region lying between the narrow, long coastal strip and the interior desert. There are several oases and some wadis (watercourses) where livestock and crops, such as dates and wheat, are raised. Economically important cities include Taif and Yanbu. The junction of the main north-south and east-west highways of Saudi Arabia, Taif is an important mountain city and market. Yanbu on the Red Sea is a major petrochemical city, the terminus for two oil pipelines. Hejaz is, however, more important as a place of pilgrimage. Each year many thousands of Muslim pilgrims come into Hejaz, mainly through Jidda, the chief port, to visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
Following the fall (1258) of the caliphate of Baghdad, Hejaz came under Egyptian control. In 1517 it came under Turkish suzerainty, although nominal rule remained in the hands of the Hashemite sherifs of Mecca. In the early 19th cent. Hejaz was raided by the Wahhabis; peace was restored in 1817 by the governor of Egypt. After 1845, Hejaz came again under direct Turkish control. To improve communications, the Turks built the Hejaz railway (completed 1908) from Damascus to Medina; it was severely damaged during World War I and later abandoned. The Hejaz was in 1916 proclaimed independent by Husayn ibn Ali, the sherif of Mecca, who with the aid of T. E. Lawrence destroyed Turkish authority. Husayn was himself defeated in 1924 by Ibn Saud, ruler of Nejd and founder of Saudi Arabia, who annexed his domain. The formal union of Hejaz and Nejd into Saudi Arabia was proclaimed in 1932.
a province in Saudi Arabia. Area, approximately 390,000 sq km. Population, approximately 2 million. The administrative and chief economic center is the city of Jidda. The population is engaged chiefly in nomadic livestock raising. Grain crops and dates and other fruit trees are grown in the oases and wadis. Fishing and coral gathering are practiced along the coast. The province has an oil refinery, a cement plant, and enterprises for processing metal and agricultural produce. There is also some handicraft cottage industry.
In the early seventh century, Muhammad first preached the new religion of Islam in the Hejaz, in the city of Mecca. The He-jaz was part of the Arabian Caliphate and, after the dissolution of the Caliphate, part of the Fatimid, Ayyubid, and Mameluke states. It became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1517. It was occupied by troops of the Egyptian pasha Muhammad Ali from 1811 to 1818 and remained an Egyptian province until 1840. Later it was ruled by a Turkish governor. In 1916 an insurrection against Turkish domination led by Husayn ibn Ali established the Hejaz as an independent kingdom.
In 1925 the Hejaz was conquered by the ruler of the Nejd, Ibn Saud, and made part of the newly formed state of Hejaz, Nejd, and regions annexed by Ibn Saud—all of which have been known as Saudi Arabia since 1932.