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Ha'il: The town where Hatem Al-Taei lived
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 10 - 09 - 2008

IF you happen to come across a human conglomeration in Ha'il region, north of the Kingdom and call out to a friend or relative named Hatem, don't be surprised if many respond to your call.
Hatem is one of the most popular names in Ha'il region, which was once home to Hatem Al-Taei, the man known among Arabs as the most generous man in their history.
To commemorate the name of Al-Taei who was born and died in the region, many residents name their children after him, as the name carries connotations of generosity. There are no official statistics to indicate the number of individuals with the name of Hatem but the name is extremely popular in the area. Naming the eldest male child born in the family after Hatem has become a tradition here.
According to legend, Hatem Al-Taei would light a fire each night on one of the Aja mountain peaks near his home, to guide visitors to his home so that he could extend his hospitality to them. On one such night, Al-Taei had nothing to offer to his guests but his horse which he sacrificed, thereby becoming an icon of generosity in the history of Arabs.
Tawarun is a small village in Ha'il. According to historians in the area, the village is located in the middle of a valley and is surrounded from all directions by the lofty Aja mountains.
The village is located at a distance of 50 kilometers from the Ha'il region. At the end of the valley lies the palace of Hatem Al-Taei.
Next to the palace, an old graveyard housing two 9.5 meters and 7.25 meters-long graves is left open to visitors around the clock. The graves have been recently demarcated with stones lining their sides and were erected in the Islamic architectural style.
According to people, the first grave is of Hatem Al-Taei himself and the second is that of his mother or his wife. His daughter Safanah is buried in the village which was named after her.
Despite the ruggedness of the road leading to Tawarun and its remoteness from the nearest paved road, the area is visited by large numbers of Arab and foreign tourists.
According to Saad Al-Ruwaisan, Director of the Archeological and Museum Unit in Ha'il region, no archeological excavations were carried out in the village. However, based on previous studies and research work, it was established that Hatem Al-Taei lived at Tawarun village which has been brought to the attention of authorities responsible for the preservation of Saudi heritage.
The present owner of Hatem Al-Taei's palace, Dali Mohammad, said that engravings found on a rock in one of the palace's corners proved that it belonged to Al-Taei. The engravings represent Al-Taei's testament to his son ‘Adiyy, who was a companion of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Dali Mohammad said that a guardian has been appointed to make arrangements to guard Al-Taei's home and grave.
Dali added that the mud palace was inherited across generations of village dwellers and that many rooms were torn down or added to the palace by the present owners.
Dali also said that evidence abounds that Hatem Al-Taei lived and died at that same palace, which includes the two graves and a well built in the shape of an ancient building. The well is known by the name of “Al-Sheikh” well and was used by Al-Taei to serve his visitors. It is located near the southern side of the palace.
Hatem Al-Taei's legend has spread to all parts of the world, and scores of European, Asian and US tourists visit the palace to explore the palace where he lived. – Al-Sharq Al


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