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Atlas of Jordan

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Myriam Ababsa

Chapter four - Islamic and Ottoman Times (629 AD - 1918)

The Hijaz Railway

Saleh Musa Daradkeh

Texte intégral

1Sultan Abdul Hamid II (1293-1326 AH/1876-1908 AD), in order to strengthen his religious position and better control the outskirts of his empire, adopted a project to construct a railway connecting the Hijaz province with his capital, Istanbul. He intended the project to highlight Islamic engineering and power, but also profited from European rail technology, especially from Germany.

2The Sultan issued a royal decree on the first of May 1900 to build the railway. Official and popular committees were formed in most Islamic countries to collect donations for its construction. Muslims received this project with great enthusiasm, because it would offer pilgrims to Mecca comfort and security in their journey, and spare them time and money.

3Work on the project began on the first day of September 1900. That day coincided with the 25th anniversary of the Sultan’s accession. The army contributed actively to the construction project under the supervision of both Turkish and German engineers. Work began at Dir’a in two directions: westwards to Muzayrib and southwards to Amman. Steel and wood were supplied from internal sources and imported from Europe. Because of limited financial and material resources, it was agreed that the railway be of a narrow gauge, according to the Vignola system. The workmen and soldiers suffered from the heat, the scarcity of water, poor health care, and difficult transportation routes; however, work went on relentlessly.

4Al Mafraq and Az Zarqa’ were the main stations in the north of Jordan. The line reached Amman in 1903. Among the significant features of the project were the 10 bridges in Amman, which still exist today.

5The railway reached Ma‘an in 1904, the castle of Al Mudawwara in 1906, and in 1906 a celebration was made for the occasion of accomplishing 1000 km of the line. In 1908, the railway between Al Madina and Damascus was inaugurated; it was 1465 km long (fig. IV.19).

Figure IV.19 — The Hijaz Railway in 1914.

Figure IV.19 — The Hijaz Railway in 1914.

6The railway was a great achievement. It made a significant social transformation wherever it passed. Economic life along the route thrived; the railway stations became vital social centers, trade and transport between Al Hijaz and the Levant increased significantly, the number of pilgrims increased, and cultural movements gained momentum due to better communications between scholars and clergies in different Islamic countries.

7The railway suffered much destruction in the Jordanian territory during World War I, and the connection with Hijaz was cut. Later, efforts were made to restore the railway; committees were formed from representatives of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria to bring the line to life again, to no avail.

Steam Engine Driver’s (Hijaz Railway).

Steam Engine Driver’s (Hijaz Railway).

M. Ababsa

Olive oil press near Tubne dated back to the Ottoman period.

Olive oil press near Tubne dated back to the Ottoman period.

M. Ababsa

Olive tree near Tubne dated back to the Ottoman period.

Olive tree near Tubne dated back to the Ottoman period.

M. Ababsa

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure IV.19 — The Hijaz Railway in 1914.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5005/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 200k
Titre Steam Engine Driver’s (Hijaz Railway).
Crédits M. Ababsa
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5005/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 40k
Titre Olive oil press near Tubne dated back to the Ottoman period.
Crédits M. Ababsa
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5005/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 52k
Titre Olive tree near Tubne dated back to the Ottoman period.
Crédits M. Ababsa
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5005/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 64k

© Presses de l’Ifpo, 2013

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