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Hasa, al-

HASA, AL-

An area in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province noted for agriculture and oil resources.

Originally, al-Hasa was the name given to a series of oases about 40 miles inland from the Persian Gulf in eastern Arabia; its largest town and capital was al-Hufuf. It later denoted a province of Saudi Arabia stretching from Kuwait in the north to Qatar in the south, separated from Najd by the al-Dahna sand belt, and including the other important oasis region on the coast around Qatif. Today the region is called the Eastern Province.

As the largest groundwater-fed oasis in the world, al-Hasa historically has been an important agricultural region, noted for dates, grains, fruits, vegetables, and its famous white donkeys. It also has been a center for administration and trade, with a population divided evenly between Sunnis and Shiʿa. One of the region's few strategic and economic prizes even before the oil era, al-Hasa has been controlled from al-Hufuf in the past two centuries by Ottomans, Egyptians, the Bani Khalid tribe, and the Al Saʿud family.

With the discovery of massive oil fields in the region, large-scale economic development and dislocations followed, sometimes resulting in labor unrest. Although agriculture suffered when field workers left to work in the oil industry, new revenues eventually were used to improve irrigation systems, prevent sand encroachment, and improve technology.

See also al saʿud family; arabian american oil company (aramco).


Bibliography

Vidal, F. S. "Al-Hasa." In Encyclopedia of Islam, New Edition, vol. 3, edited by B. Lewis, V. L. Ménage, C. Pellat, and J. Schacht. Leiden: Brill, 1971.

Vidal, F. S. The Oasis of al-Hasa. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia: Aramco, 1955.

malcolm c. peck
updated by anthony b. toth

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