Meaning of WADI AL-JADID, AL- in English

(English: "New Valley"), desert muhafazah (governorate), Egypt. It includes the entire southwestern quadrant of the country, from the Nile River valley (east) to the frontiers with The Sudan (south) and Libya (west). Its total area covers approximately two-fifths of Egypt. Until 1958 the muhafazah was known as as-Sahra' al-Janubiyah, meaning "southern desert." For national planning purposes, the term al-Wadi al-Jadid includes five widely scattered clusters of oases based on artesian wells. These are Siwah (Siwa) Oasis, al-Bahriyah (Bahariya) Oasis, al-Farafirah (Farafra) Oasis, ad-Dakhilah (Dakhla) Oases, and al-Kharijah (Kharga) Oases. Siwah actually is located in Marsa Matruh governate, al-Bahriyah in al-Jizah, and al-Farafirah in Asyut. Excluding isolated Siwah, the four eastern oases, together with al-Fayyum in the north, form a great desert arc; all are linked by a combined paved highway and desert track commencing at Cairo and terminating at al-Kharijah, where it joins a road following a historic caravan route leading north to Asyut. Al-Kharijah is also connected by rail to Naj' Hammadi on the upper Nile west of Qina, and another railway links al-Bahriyah, where a rich iron-ore deposit is mined, to the steel plant at Hulwan. The area is an almost rainless plateau of the eastern Sahara embracing the east-central sector of the Libyan Desert. It is composed mainly of Nubian sandstone, which has weathered to undulating plains, in places extensively covered with sand. Al-Wadi al-Jadid is highest in the extreme southwest, where Mount Babayn rises to 3,622 feet (1,104 m). From there the plateau falls gently away to the north, to the areas of Siwah and the Qattara Depression, which is partly below sea level. In the east and north, limestone escarpments diversify the landscape. In the depressions, shallow wells tap the aquifers of the underlying Nubian sandstone. Deep-well drilling extended the cultivable land of the habitable oases considerably, but later this was found to have lowered the water table. Plans have been discussed to again raise the water table by flooding an uninhabited depression west of Aswan with water from Lake Nasser. Of the oases actually within al-Wadi al-Jadid muhafazah, al-Kharijah lies within a depression 112 feet (34 m) above sea level. The largest of the oases, it has considerable land under cultivation. Garden crops, dates, wheat, and berseem (clover, for livestock feed) are grown. Sheep and camels are raised by the oasis dwellers and by desert tribal groups. At al-Kharijah coal has been found, and a large phosphate deposit at Abu Tartur between ad-Dakhilah and al-Kharijah oases is mined and the product shipped by rail from al-Kharijah to Naj' Hammadi. A tile- and shale-quarrying industry opened in the late 1970s at al-Kharijah, and brick manufacturing was started. Ad-Dakhilah oasis is much smaller, and date growing has been the traditional occupation. In the 1970s an agricultural experimental program tested new varieties of cotton and other crops, with the goal of developing varieties that could tolerate desert conditions. At ad-Dakhilah tombs of the Old Kingdom (c. 2686-2160 BC) were discovered in the 1970s by an Egyptian archaeological expedition headed by Ahmed Fakhry. Al-Kharijah has more extensive ruins. Throughout pharaonic history the oases served as places of exile or refuge for those in disfavour with the government. In Roman and Byzantine times the oases had widespread cultivation, and they became flourishing Christian settlements. Later, however, raids by desert tribal groups reduced their prosperity. The oasis dwellers were originally Libyan Berber-speaking peoples, mixed with immigrants from the south and with exiled Egyptians. In the Muslim period Arabs intermingled with them, and now they are Arabic speakers. The nomadic desert dwellers are from the Awlad 'Ali tribal group. Area 145,369 square miles (376,505 square km). Pop. (1991 est.) 130,000.

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