Blue-print map of the Hijaz railway line between Damascus and Medina, and Dar‘a to Hayfa on Collections Sphere from Khalili Collections
In 1900 the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II (r.1876–1909) began the construction of a railway line connecting Damascus to the holy cities of Medina and Mecca. Built by public subscription and with an appeal to Muslims of the world for financial support, the railway line began from Damascus and reached Medina in 1908, never reaching Mecca.
This map, which is dated 28 Huzayran 1334 (28 June 1916), shows the Hijaz railway line from Damascus to Medina and Dar‘a to Haifa, with a dotted line marking the line between Medina and Mecca (a line which was never completed). Names of stops and tribal territories are marked. The map is signed by the German Heinrich August Meissner – the chief engineer of the Hijaz railway. In 1904 he was given an official title and was known as Meissner Pasha. The original sketches for Hijaz railway maps were made by Mukhtar Bey, an accomplished engineer from Istanbul who was responsible for the original surveys of the route. They were then drawn by other officers and the blue prints signed off by Meissner, perhaps with changes. Mukhtar Bey was known as ‘Meissner’s right hand man’. The date here is notable as the Arab Revolt, which saw sections of the railway destroyed, began in June 1916.