Very few know the place where Prophet Moses lived before he became a prophet of God and was sent on a mission to the Pharaoh. Few visited the site, although the story and the location were mentioned in the Quran.
The significance of the place lies in the name “Shuaib,” which belongs to Prophet “Shuaib” who befriended Moses and became his father-in-law. The carved mountains stand as witness to an immortal story that took place in Al-Bida'a governorate, one of the richest historic sites near the Red Sea.
“Magha’er Shuaib” is a historical site that lies 225 km northwest of Tabuk city in Saudi Arabia. It is the place where Moses moved to for a decade. Moses lived there to meet the dowry conditions to marry Shuaib’s daughter before he returned to Egypt to advise the Pharoah and his followers.
The place has preserved its historical characteristics, with its carved facades. Dr. Ahmed Al Abboudi, Associate Professor, Department of Archeology at King Saud University, told Al Arabiya that he believes the location is even older than “Madayen Saleh.”
“Magha’er Shuaib” as per the research work and sources was called “Madyan” in the past and in the Quran, while it is known in the present time as Al-Bida'a governorate. These researches confirm “Magha’er Shuaib” is where Prophet Moses (PBUH) had lived prior to his prophethood as per the popular story in the Quran.
Al-Abboudi pointed out that the place has not been studied extensively and has not received attention, especially since it is closed, except for a few visits by officials, in a location that lacks services and facilities.
Due to the similarities between "Madayen Saleh" and “Magha’er Shuaib” in the construction styles, many observers are unaware that the two sites are different and are separated by about 400 km towards the Red Sea.
The locations also share similarities with “Petra” in Jordan, in terms of patterns of sculpture and its appearance and form.
The story of Moses and Shuaib
The story in the Quran is told in detail since Moses fled Egypt because of the incident in which he accidentally knocked down a man dead, after seeing him fighting with an Israelite.
Moses walked towards “Madyan,” across the Red Sea. As he reached a well, he saw two girls waiting for their turn to fetch water for their herd. Moses came and offered his help to the two girls and then retired to the shade. When the girls returned to their father Shoaib, they told him to reward Moses for his help.
Shoaib saw that Moses was chivalrous and valiant so he asked him to stay with him for eight years and offered him his daughter’s hand in marriage, Moses accepted and extended his stay to 10 years.
Al-Abboudi said that “Magha’er Shuaib”, located in the province of Bida'a, is part of the northwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula - a location that bears great secrets, sites and inscriptions that are countless. “Most of it has not been unearthed yet,” he said.
Orientalists talked about “Magha’er Shuaib”
Many of the travelers and Orientalists documented “Magha’er Shuaib” in their books, among them are Musil and “Abdullah Philby” who referred to the location in some detail and linked it to the story of Moses and Shuaib.