1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hasa, El

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HASA, EL (Ahsa, Al Hasa), a district in the east of Arabia stretching along the shore of the Persian Gulf from Kuwét in 29° 20′ N. to the south point of the Gulf of Bahrein in 25° 10′ N., a length of about 360 m. On the W. it is bounded by Nejd, and on the S.E. by the peninsula of El Katr which forms part of Oman. The coast is low and flat and has no deep-water port along its whole length with the exception of Kuwét; from that place to El Katif the country is barren and without villages or permanent settlements, and is only occupied by nomad tribes, of which the principal are the Bani Hajar, Ajman and Khālid. The interior consists of low stony ridges rising gradually to the inner plateau. The oases of Hofuf and Katif, however, form a strong contrast to the barren wastes that cover the greater part of the district. Here an inexhaustible supply of underground water (to which the province owes its name Hasa) issues in strong springs, marking, according to Arab geographers, the course of a great subterranean river draining the Nejd highlands. Hofuf the capital, a town of 15,000 to 20,000 inhabitants, with its neighbour Mubāriz scarcely less populous, forms the centre of a thriving district 50 m. long by 15 m. in breadth, containing numerous villages each with richly cultivated fields and gardens. The town walls enclose a space of 11/2 by 1 m., at the north-west angle of which is a remarkable citadel attributed to the Carmathian princes. Mubāriz is celebrated for its hot spring, known as Um Sabā or “mother of seven,” from the seven channels by which its water is distributed. Beyond the present limits of the oasis much of the country is well supplied with water, and ruined sites and half-obliterated canals show that it has only relapsed into waste in recent times. Cultivation reappears at Katif, a town situated on a small bay some 35 m. north-west of Bahrein. Date groves extend for several miles along the coast, which is low and muddy. The district is fertile but the climate is hot and unhealthy; still, owing to its convenient position, the town has a considerable trade with Bahrein and the gulf ports on one side and the interior of Nejd on the other. The fort is a strongly built enclosure attributed, like that at Hofuf, to the Carmathian prince Abu Tahir.

‘Uker or ‘Ujer is the nearest port to Hofuf, from which it is distant about 40 m.; large quantities of rice and piece goods transhipped at Bahrein are landed here and sent on by caravan to Hofuf, the great entrepôt for the trade between southern Nejd and the coast. It also shares in the valuable pearl fishery of Bahrein and the adjacent coast.

Politically El Hasa is a dependency of Turkey, and its capital Hofuf is the headquarters of the sanjak or district of Nejd. Hofuf, Katif and El Katr were occupied by Turkish garrisons in 1871, and the occupation has been continued in spite of British protest as to El Katr, which according to the agreement made in 1867, when Bahrein was taken under British protection, was tributary to the latter. Turkish claims to Kuwēt have not been admitted by Great Britain.

Authorities.—W. G. Palgrave, Central and Eastern Arabia (London, 1865); L. Pelly, Journal R.G.S. (1866); S. M. Zwemer, Geog. Journal (1902); G. F. Sadlier, Diary of a Journey across Arabia (Bombay, 1866); V. Chirol, The Middle East (London, 1904).  (R. A. W.)