Mada'in Saleh (Arabic: مدائن صالح, madāʼin Ṣāliḥ), also called Al-Hijr, el Hijr, and Hegra (so in Greek and Latin, e.g. by Pliny ), is an ancient pre-Islamic archaeological site located in the Al-Ula sector, within the Al Madinah Region of Saudi Arabia. A majority of the vestiges date from the Thamud civilization and Nabatean kingdom (1st century CE). The site constitutes the kingdom's southernmost and largest settlement after Petra, its capital. Remains of the native Lihyan civilization has been found. Traces of the Roman occupation before and after the Nabatean rule, respectively, can also be found in situ.
Mada'in Saleh was home of the Thamud civilization. Accounts from the Qur’an place the settlement of the area by the Thamud people after Noah but before Moses, which can be interpreted as the 3rd millennium BC. According to the Islamic text, the Thamudis, who would carve out homes in the mountains, were punished by Allah for their persistent practice of idol worship, the non-believers being struck by a sound wave. Thus, the site has earned a reputation down to contemporary times as a cursed place— an image which the national government is attempting to overcome as it seeks to develop Mada'in Saleh, officially protected as an archaeological site since 1972, for its tourism potential.