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The centuries-old Saudi village atop a volcano crater

MAKKAH: It was in the year 1983 when the residents of the village of Tabah, east of Hail, discovered they had been living on a volcano crater for centuries.The village, nestled in the Salma Mountains in northern Saudi Arabia, presented a perfect picture of peace and harmony. Villagers reported feeling tremors and seeing cracks in the ground here and there, but no one really thought much of it.The situation worsened in the 1980s, when a development project began in the area and an asphalt company began paving roads, a process for which the village’s underground water had to be extracted.The changes to the water table led to a series of loud sounds and land subsidence that destroyed several homes. It was then that the government decided to move the villagers to safety and compensate them by providing them with homes outside the volcanic zone.Khalaf Naif Al-Hasher, 70, who was born in the old village of Tabah, told Arab News that it was an important and well-known part of northern Saudi Arabia and that its residents were known for their kindness and compassion.“I remember very well the days when my relatives and I moved from Tabah after it began experiencing geological phenomena, such as tears, fissures and land subsidence,” he said.“Although we did feel some tremors and saw slight cracks here and there, no one cared, and the village’s residents were not bothered by them.”He said that moving to what he referred to as “the new Tabah” was urgent after several homes were damaged in the village, which had a population of 1,500 people at the time.

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