Tabuk to Al- Ola, Saudi Arabia
“After a march of two days, we halted at Dhat Hajj, a place of subterranean waterbeds with no habitations then on to Wadi Baldah....then on to Tabuk......it has a spring which used to yield a scanty supply of water, but when the Apostle of God went down to it and used it for his ablutions, it gave an abundant flow of running water and continues to do so to this day. ........ The huge caravan encamps near the spring referred to and every one slakes his thirst from it. They remain here for four days to rest ..."
Ibn Battuta had just crossed what is nowadays the Jordan/Saudi Arabia border. It is difficult nowadays as you drive down modern highways in air-conditioned vehicles, your supply of bottled mineral water stored in the cooler, to appreciate just how perilous an undertaking the hajj pilgrimage was, until relatively recently. Aside from the necessity of a source of clean water, there was a constant fear of bandits who preyed on the caravans, and the rugged lava terrain itself which had to be traversed. In 1655, the Ottomans built a fort in Tabuk over what had been a 10th century building, near an oasis, source of the spring to which Ibn B refers. As they did with a string of forts up and down the pilgrimage route, they built a large reservoir outside the fort walls.
The Turkish-built fort at Tabuk