Articles/A visit to a White City by the sea

A visit to a White City by the sea

ما هي "المدينة البيضاء" ولماذا سُميت بذلك؟

08 JUL 2020


Source: Khuloud Al-Saleh

In the northwest of the country lies a mysterious little village is known in the past as the White City. Al-Muwailih is administered by the Governorate of Duba, overlooking the Red Sea coast. It is located on a famous pilgrimage route with many wells and is where pilgrims from Egypt rested among the nearby rocks and caves in the surrounding mountains.


Al-Muwailih, or Al-Nabek, is 17 kilometers away from the port of Duba and 150 kilometers away from Tabuk. It is bordered by Mount Shar and the Red Sea coast that attract tourists, water sports enthusiasts, and budding mountaineers. Al-Muwailih is also known for being an agricultural region that produces dates and crops such as tomatoes, melons, lemons, oranges, and mangoes.

Historians have speculated that it was home to the people of the Prophet Shoaib (peace be upon him). History books mentioned that it was an important port called Luika Koma, or the aforementioned White City, because of the salinity of its waters. It was one of the most important ports for transporting goods to and from Egypt and to the Mediterranean Sea. Travelers who have visited the village often make special mention of its markets, famous fortresses, people, crops, and distinctive lifestyles.

Al-Muwailih Castle 

The eponymous castle is a famous fort with a rich history. It was established in the 10th century AH on the shores of the Red Sea. It was built mainly to protect pilgrims and was the headquarters for managing local money and village affairs. In 1344 AH, Al-Muwailih became part of the Saudi state and thus the headquarters of the security forces led by the country’s founder King Abdulaziz.

This ancient fortress was built by Sharif Muhammad Al-Muwailhi. It features 99 rooms and storage areas for supplies and weapons. Its four towers are each five meters long. There are niches on the castle walls from where artillery can be fired, making it an impenetrable building. It is surrounded by wells providing freshwater, including four in the courtyard that has been restored several times over different eras. Al-Muwailih castle contains historical inscriptions dating back to the 10th century AH.

Historical documents 

The Al-Wakeel Al-Muwailhi family, which owns many documents on historical, social and political conditions in the region, submitted 6,000 historical documents to the King Fahd National Library, Department of King Abdulaziz and the King Abdulaziz Library at the National Guard in order to preserve local history for future generations.