The Doors And Mud-Built Houses Of Ushaiger Heritage Village

Facts of the past were my academic energizers back in the day. Memorizing names, dates, events, and anything akin to history interest me–still. So, when I was invited by a good friend, Mr. Enrico Abad, to join his squad’s trip to Ushaiger Heritage Village, the wandering feet’s engine automatically zoomed off to say, yes! A grant-in-aid for The Stories of the Wandering Feet & Mind is always, always most welcome.

In the freezing morning of 17 January 2013, we cruised over the 200 km distance of the bourg from Riyadh for almost four hours. Before we entered the village’s entrance, we checked this part of the place that reminded me of the equally beautiful heritage site in Ilocos (Philippines). This particular part gives visitors a peek at what the village has to offer.





After a few minutes of delighting in the beautiful views, we proceeded speedily to the village’s grand door. What I noticed upon looking at it is a distinct feature that transported me to the era of mud architecture hundreds of years ago.




The squad scattered across as soon as we started seeing the multiple historic, tangible facets of the village.


I walked a thousand miles to get a feel of this ancient town and the first few steps from the gate made me see a watch tower that served as an overlook. The scenery atop is literally hair-raising.




Roaming the farther side awarded my eyes the perfect example of a traditional Saudi architecture: the unstinting doors that mirror the local artisans’ talents on decorating and designing doors—elaborately.



The reason behind according to what I read is because hospitality, which is the very essence of Arabian culture, begins at the house’s door so it is a must to pour an elbow grease on doors.

The doors are usually decorated with circles, disks, and geometric designs burned with branding irons.


Curiosity made me dig dipper into these lavish doors that I asked one of the village’s guards about what wood was used for the doors. I found out that they are made of ithal (tamarish)—a light and stalwart wood that is usually the preference of the scrimpy Arabs back in the era of tribes.




Two distinguishing differentiae of ithal are its intractability to cracking and ability to expand and shrink well with weather blows. Hence, it is the most popular wood for building up average doors up to this day.


“Modern architects and city planners in the Kingdom recognize the cultural and historical value of old doors. They adapt these unique styles into modern design projects for residences and businesses. Preservation projects also exist throughout the Kingdom to maintain these irreplaceable treasures of the past. In Riyadh and Jeddah, where there is such an outstanding selection of traditional doors, there is an on-going effort to preserve and maintain the traditional character and architecture of the city. In other areas of the Kingdom, cities and towns are making efforts to preserve their past for future generations to learn from and enjoy,” (Doors to the Past, Saudi Arabia, Summer 1998, Volume 15, No. 2).


No wonder the mud-built houses in the area were already worn out but the doors remain ornately intact.


When the Ushaiger Village in Shagra (Riyadh Province) became a heritage site a few years ago, the locals did a lot of restoration efforts all for the preservation of its heritage. This lamp played a big part in the process because it definitely added a touch of old age charm to it, which makes visitors embrace the ambiance with a customary hint.


After probing the secret behind these esoteric doors, I moved along the narrow alleys of the village.


Soon, I consulted Mr. Google to comprehend how this place had once worked socially. I have learned that these slender-width streets were specifically designed to give access to the residences of extended families and to the individual entrances to the houses of branches of the given family.




Moreover, the street walls of this primitive village did not only stand as a bulwark during its glory days but for the convenience of women as it allows them to pass in privacy unveiled from neighboring houses belonging to the same family.


At one point, I reached a certain spot where I suddenly perceived the deafening quietude immuring the place. The punch of such was visceral. While I recognize the sense of history that these ruins flaunt, I cannot deny the shrieking sound echoing from them. The ruins enable us to picture the mien and character of the village in primitive tribes’ time. On the other hand, these dejected structures radiate so much sadness. It made me realize that everything has its time and that all things, indeed, will come to pass.


Be that as it may, history will always be history and ruins will always serve a road to transformation. These ruins of ancient Saudi village will forever carry the Kingdom’s torch of the old world and will forever bridge the present to the past. Kudos to the people behind the upkeep of this historic village towards the preservation of its heritage.

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31 Comments Add yours

  1. says:

    What fabulous pictures! I am so glad I followed your blog! The colors are amazing!


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      Thank you very much for that!


  2. petchary says:

    Stunning photographs. The red mud and blue sky… A feast for the senses. What a beautiful and well-preserved place.


  3. Tatay Joni says:

    great pictures & story, now it adds up to day-dreaming of my fantasy house


  4. Hero says:

    Beautiful place! Thanks for sharing sony. I love the bright colours and architecture of the doors.


  5. Bashar A. says:

    Its like you were transformed to a different time… lovely photos Sony 🙂


  6. photos are great…


  7. munchow says:

    Those are some stunning pictures. So rich in colours and tones. I love all the details you have depicted. Quite some architecture.


  8. Island Traveler says:

    Wow! These are unique and beautiful. The workmanship just amazes me. The doors too are just intricate and artistic. Your wandering feet gave us a piece of adventure once more. Thanks.


  9. Shofar says:

    Terrific tour and tour guide! You always take great photos and are the best storyteller, too! I like the photos on bottom of your side bar! I missed seeing your signature photo of the boat on the shoreline. God bless you, Sony and glad to have you back!


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      Thanks for the uplifting words, Liz.
      I promise I will make more stories now that the second season of the tournament is over. Happy blogging.


  10. katpegimana says:

    Hi there,
    Your story is amazing and the photographs are incredible! I love the contrast of brown/red with the blue colour. Love it!


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      Many thanks for the kind words, Kat. Looks like you have a lot of interesting stories on your blog. One thing is for sure, you also have that “itchy feet”. Kindred spirits.



  11. Hair-raising, thrilling village adventure. Everything about this place is uniquely amazing.


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      I could still feel the house around me each time I check this post. Makes me feel like I’m there when I look at the pictures.


  12. Boots says:

    This reminds me of Sedona in Arizona. The architecture and the colors are very similar.


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      It’s amazing how those mud-built houses turned into massive skyscrapers now. Saudi is one of the countries that adore extraordinarily high-rising buildings. The Kingdom Tower in Jeddah that is in the works will bury Burj Khalifa in 2019.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Boots says:

        Wow! I still have got to see Burj Khalifa. It’s in my bucket list. But there are still so much to see-all of God’s wonders- before I explore all the man made creations. I often dream of being in the mountains in Nepal or trekking Machu Picchu. Someday…


      2. Sony Fugaban says:

        *fingers crossed*


  13. Blue Abaya says:

    Great pics Sony! This brings back warm memories from my visit there.
    Once again thank you for the links back to Blue Abaya.


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      The pleasure is mine, Layla. So thank you for allowing me to link to your blogs.


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