Rediscovering The Hejaz’s Ancient Desert Railway – The Perfect Adventure for Land Rover in Saudi Arabia
Land Rover goes back in time across the desert to rediscover the Hejaz Railway and capture innovation that has lasted over 100 years
As part of its MYLAND (Ardhi in Arabic) creative communications platform, Land Rover MENA recently completed a commemorative expedition to one of the oldest railway networks, Hejaz, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). A short-film documentary in the native Arabic language with added English subtitles provides a taste of classic foreign film. Scattered in three parts series,presented here. even though it’s all iEnglish subtitles
The expedition is part of a series of challenging Land Rover journeys that are currently underway across the region, and follows two Saudi nationals; Faisal Binladen and Salman Sultan, as the duo trace the Hejaz Railway route from Madinah to Tabuk over three days. The expedition is captured in a three part documentary series highlighting some truly stunning, albeit challenging terrains across the Kingdom.
Built by the Ottoman Empire under the supervision of a German engineer over 100 years ago, the Hejaz Railway connected Damascus in Syria with the Holy Cities of the Hejaz in KSA, and was used to ferry pilgrims to the holy cities of Madinah and Mekkah. Spanning 1,320km of land, the railway was designed to relieve the suffering of pilgrims on their 40-day journey through the harsh wilderness and to improve both the economic and the political integration of the distant Arabian provinces into the Ottoman state.
However, a few years after its conception, the outbreak of World War I destroyed the railway network, leaving only a few traces of it behind. While some locomotives have been restored to working order along the railway in Syria and Jordan, other non-operating sections of the railway track, buildings and rolling-stock have been preserved and have since become iconic archeological landmarks, holding great significance in the historical landscape of KSA as well as the entire region.
During the documentary, viewers will follow the Hejaz Railway route up to the border between KSA and Jordan, where Salman and Faisal explore the history behind the railway network, of which only a few train stations still remain. Showcasing the challenging conditions endured during the construction of the Hejaz Railway, the film captures the Land Rover LR4 expedition on and off-road as it tackles an ever-changing terrain, harsh driving environment and an arid climate through the desert and mountains.
Speaking about the adventure, Salman Sultan PR, Social Media and Events Manager for Jaguar Land Rover MENA and one of the explorers on the journey commented: “Rich in culture and heritage, we are immensely lucky and proud to be part of this region that has so many fascinating stories to tell. Trailing the Hejaz Railway in the Land Rover LR4 allowed us to tackle environmental obstacles and conquer the often challenging terrain to really embark on an extraordinary adventure tracing this unique project’s history. We hope that by capturing our adventure along the way and sharing it that we did Saudi Arabia’s heritage justice and at the same time recognized the challenges faced by other fans of this trail for off-roading.”