1902 Encyclopedia > Arabia > Arabia - Nejd (cont.). The Akhaf. Climate of Nejd. Valley of Aftan. Summary of the Geography of Arabia Proper.

(Part 13)


(13) Arabia - Nejd (cont.). The Akhaf. Climate of Nejd. Valley of Aftan. Summary of the Geography of Arabia Proper.

The Akhaf

East of Hareek rises a succession of lofty ridges, covered by a deep layer of sand, though which black rock occasionally pierces. This region bears the name of Akhaf, and connects the watershed of Toweyk with the high mountains behind Oman. It is, like the Dahna, unreclaimed desert; but the recesses of its valleys conceal a few wells and springs, so that travelers from Nejd sometimes take this route, the most difficult but the shortest, when on their way to Oman. Immediately north of the Akhaf commences the lesser Dahna, a desert resembling in every way its homonym of the south, narrower; its breadth in many places not exceeding 50 or 60 miles. This long and dreary strip runs up the whole way along the easterly side of the Toweyk plateau, till it merges in the northern or stony waste land at the head of the Persian Gulf.

Climate of Nejd

Throughout the highlands of Nejd the climate, though often hot by day, is cool and pleasant at night; the spring and the autumn rains seldom fail in their seasons; and the soil, where not artificially irrigated, produces excellent pasture,-where irrigated, it renders very tolerable garden produce and field crops. Storms of thunder and lightning are of rare occurrence, and the tornadoes that from time to time visit the Arabian coasts are here unknown. The prevailing, as also the most refreshing winds, are from the east and north-east; the south and west winds are heated and unwelcome. Epidemic diseases are rare, and only one visitation, and that not a severe one, of cholera is on record within Nejd.

Valley of Aftan

Between Yemamah and Hareek runs the valley called Aftan, which appears in some maps as the bed of an imaginary river flowing nearly across Arabia into the Persian Gulf. But the downward slope of the valley itself is not from west to east, but in the reverse direction, and at a distance of more than 100 miles from the sea it is absolutely closed in by the sand-heaped ridges of Akhaf. Did the mountains of central Arabia furnish a water supply sufficient for a river, large or small, its course would of necessity be directed, not towards the Persian Gulf, but the Red Sea. The copious springs that break out at the foot of the Toweyk mountain range above Hasa, not far from the gulf, are all of subterranean origin; and though they are evidently the off-drainings of the rainfall of Nejd, they have no connection with the very scanty running or standing waters of the surface of the great plateau.

Summary of the Geography of Arabia Proper

Summing up, -- Arabia may roughly be divided, as to its surface extent, into a third of coast-ring and mountains, part barren, part either cultivated or susceptible of being so; another third of central plateau, also tolerably fertile, and a third of desert circle, intervening, with only one gap, that in the latitude of Mecca, between the first and the second. The central space, whether plateau or desert, varying in height from 1000 to 3000 feet above the sea, possesses three important mountain ranges, -- two transverse, namely, Jebel Shomer and Jebel Ared, and one vertical, that commences with Toweyk, and is continued by the Akhaf, -- these latter being the watershed of the peninsula, the general rise of which is from west to east. The highest mountain peaks -- those, namely, of Jebel Akhdar in Oman -- do not apparently exceed 6000 feet.

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