During the last quarter of the 19th century Turkish influence became preponderant in western Arabia, and the railway from Syria to the Hejaz tended to consolidate the sultan's supremacy.
The harra east of Khaibar is also of considerable extent, and the same formation is found all along the Hejaz border from Medina to the Jebel el Kura, east of Mecca.
In Arabia Ratib Pasha, the Turkish commander-in-chief, joined the enemies of the new regime; he was defeated and captured in the autumn of 1908, but in the following year frequent raids upon the Hejaz railway were made by Bedouin tribesmen, while a Mandist rebellion broke out and was crushed in Yemen.
The central zone includes Hejaz (or Hijaz), Nejd and El Hasa; much of it is a dry, stony or sandy steppe, with few wells or watering-places, and only occupied by nomad tribes; but the great wadis which intersect it contain many fertile stretches of alluvial soil, where cultivation is possible and which support a considerable settled population, with several large towns and numerous villages.
The story of how he raised and led a force of Arabs, which cut the Hejaz railway, pushed forward in the van of Allenby's advancing army and were first into Damascus, is but faintly reflected in the dry official record of his various promotions to major (Aug.
Abu-Bekr had scarcely assumed his new position (632), under the title Califet-Resul-Allah (successor of the prophet of God), when he was called to suppress the revolt of the tribes Hejaz and Nejd, of which the former rejected Islamism and the latter refused to pay tribute.
Aastly, in the northwest the Sinai peninsula has been thoroughly explored, and the list of travellers who have visited the Holy Cities and traversed the main pilgrim routes through Hejaz is a fairly long one, though, owing to the difficulties peculiar to that region, the hydrography of southern Hejaz is still incompletely known.
Burton's topographical descriptions are fuller, and his march to Mecca from Medina by the eastern route led him over ground not traversed by any other explorer in Hejaz: this route leads at first south-east from Medina, and then south across the lava beds of the Harra, keeping throughout its length on the high plateau which forms the borderland between Hejaz and Nejd.
The merchant aristocracy became satraps or pensioners of a great empire; but the seat of dominion was removed beyond the desert, and though Mecca and the Hejaz strove for a time to maintain political as well as religious predominance, the struggle was vain, and terminated on the death of Ibn Zubair, the Meccan pretendant to the caliphate, when the city was taken by Hajjaj (A.D.
Railway construction has begun in Arabia, and in 1908 the Hejaz line, intended to connect Damascus with Mecca, had reached Medina, Soo m.