Al Hufuf, also Hofuf, city in eastern Saudi Arabia, in Ash Sharqiyah (Al Hasa) Province, situated in one of the largest oases in the world, and a leading producer of dates.
Al-Hofuf enjoys a tropical climate with only two seasons: a hot & dry summer and a moderate to becoming warm with occasional showers during cold winter. However, it is far enough away from the Arabian Gulf coast to escape the extreme summer humidity. Both the Eastern and Western Regions experience high humidity, especially in summer months, in contrast with the arid climate of the Central Region.
With the continuing expansion of all parts of the Kingdom, the three towns inevitably merged into one, creating a single municipality known as Dammam Area. Each of the three towns which compose the Dammam Area retains their own character and some local administrative functions but, in terms of its place in the Kingdom, the Dammam Area forms a single administrative entity.
Hofuf was the capital of the Eastern Province until 1953 and various parts of the old town still show evidence of when the OTTOMAN empire controlled most of the area has several landmarks of its recent distinguished past. The agricultural date farms make Hofuf the largest oasis in Saudi Arabia. Hofuf contains an old fort and one of the most interesting souqs in the Kingdom. Because of the enormity of the oasis and the number of picturesque villages scattered through it, a leisurely drive through the greenery is an entertaining way to spend an afternoon. Its central oasis, Al Ahsa, boasts two million palm trees. The Ministry of Agriculture has set up a factory to process its rich output of dates, amounting to five tons daily.
The Hofuf area is dotted with date palm farms. The area boasts a camel market on Thursdays where one can find racing camels. On the eastern side of the oasis is Jebel Qara containing limestone caves named Ghar Al Hashshab, "cave of the arrow maker". The caves are very cool and are popular in hot weather. Around the Jabal are potters making simple unglazed pottery.
A walled city and a trade center, Al Hufuf is connected by rail and road with Riyadh and Ad Dammam. The main railway line is the 570km-long Riyadh-Dammam line, which links Dhahran, Abqaiq, Hofuf, Harad and Al Kharj. There is a daily service in air-conditioned trains with dining car. An additional line links Riyadh with Hofuf.
Manufactures include cloth, copper and brass products, and swords and daggers. The oasis, watered by many springs, grows dates, fruit, rice, wheat, and barley. The 'Osmaniya oil field is nearby and to the southwest. Originally called Al Hassa, the city was headquarters of the 10th-century Qarmatian Muslim sect. There is also a famous camel market in Hofuf. Camels, once the principal mode of transportation in the Arabian Peninsula, are now used mainly for racing.
Textile manufacturing, food processing, and Arabian horse breeding are important economic activities. It is also a trade center for dates, wheat, and fruit and has a large mosque. The oil fields of Shimanya are nearby.
- Ibrahim Palace
- Jabel Al-Qara and its pottery caves
- Al Uqair, the old port trading with Mesopotamia and India (79 km x 2 off road trip)
- Abqaiq which has 5000-year-old salt mine still in operations
- Hofuf Museum
Hofuf's local museum occupies a government building near the Department of Education. Ultra-modern in design, the museum contains antiquities, folklore exhibit halls, and photography, as well as lounges, offices, repair and mounting shops, and storage areas.
- Qasr Ibrahim (Qaser Al-Qubbah)
Qasr Ibrahim was built in Al-Hofuf in 963 AH by Ali Ibn Ahmed Ibn Lawand Al-Burayki, the Ottomon Governor of the time. He also built the Al-Qubbah Mosque, still in existence today.
In 1216 AH, the Saudi Governor Ibrahim Ibn 'Ufaysan renovated the castle, and some historians ascribe the castle to him. Covering 16,500 square meters, Qasr Ibrahim combines Islamic and military architecture. The mosque of al-Qubba built inside the fortification wall of the palace, which contains a large single dome and is unique in its construction and style in the Kingdom.
- Souq Sweiq
One of the biggest shopping centers of the area, located in Al-Hofuf's city center, Souq Sweiq is famous for its gold market, textiles, gifts, and shops for women.