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Summary Article: Nejd
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Region of central Arabia consisting chiefly of desert; area about 2,072,000 sq km/800,000 sq mi. Together with Hejaz it forms part of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The capital is Riyadh, and the chief towns are Borayda, Anayza. It was historically primarily inhabited by Bedouins.

Physical Nejd stretches east of the Hejaz mountains to the Gulf coastal plain of Hasa. The greater part of the Nejd is desert, including the An Nafud and Dahna sand deserts. The climate is arid, with rain sometimes not falling in parts for years; daytime summer temperatures are high, up to 50°C, falling to −30°C at night. In winter frosts are common in many areas.

Economy There are numerous scattered oases where wheat, barley, maize, millet, and sorghum are grown using a variety of traditional water sources. At altitudes below 1300 m/4,265 ft the most important crop was formerly dates. There are irrigation schemes at Al Kharj and Al Hasa, growing market garden crops for the Riyadh and east coast urban markets. Pastoral nomadism was the principal source of livelihood in the past, but is today followed by only a few thousand people. Sedenterization of the nomads for political and religious reasons under Saudi rule during the present century, and the replacement of camels by motor vehicles, contributed to the decline of nomadism. The discovery of oil in the east of Nejd, near Damman, transformed the economy by providing new forms of employment and an enormous source of wealth. Oil pipelines run from the interior to Harad and from Harad to the coast and Riyadh, the capital; and a railway and roads cross the desert.

History Nejd was the centre of the Wahabi movement, a strict form of Islam embraced by the Saudi family. The territory was nominally under Turkish suzerainty, but was declared an independent kingdom by Ibn Saud in 1905. After the Saudi conquest of Hejaz in 1924, Nejd was consolidated as a dual kingdom with Hejaz in 1926. In 1932 they became a single kingdom under the name Saudi Arabia.

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