Wadi-e Jinn – Saudi Arabia - Atlas Obscura

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Wadi-e Jinn

A phenomenon that appears to make gravity work in reverse has been attributed to jinn, supernatural spirits from Arabian folklore. 


Wadi-e Jinn attracts a fair share of curious visitors from the surrounding area due to the fact that cars seem to be moving uphill when put in neutral. This is a phenomenon that can be observed in hundreds of places around the world, and it is commonly known as a “gravity hill.”

Magnetism has sometimes been invoked as an explanation, and so have supernatural causes. However, the most credible explanation is that it is an optical illusion created by the landscape, which is slightly tilted and gives the impression that a road gently sloping downhill is actually sloping uphill. As a result, vehicles seem to be moving uphill as if attracted by a tractor beam.

Wadi-e Jinn is named after jinn, supernatural spirits that populate Arabian folklore. Jinn can be either well- or ill-intentioned, and they can be called upon as an explanation for unusual or mysterious phenomena. Since the naming of the wadi predates the arrival of automobiles and paved roads, it stands to reason that local people have been aware of something unusual about this place. This should not be surprising, as the phenomenon of gravity hills can also be observed with running water. There is also a wealth of anecdotes claiming that voices can be heard at night, urging humans to leave the wadi to the jinn.

Wadi-e Jinn extends for 15 kilometers (9 miles), most of which is paved with picnic grounds set up along the road, and an unfortunate amount of litter strewn everywhere. The upper part of the wadi, however, still retains the raw charm of a classic wadi. Unlike other wadis, though, the combination of rounded boulders balancing at improbable angles and the slanted fault lines of rocks can have a disorienting effect.  

In recent years, reports that vehicles have reached a speed of 120 kilometers per hour (75 mph) as a result of a magnetic pull have appeared in local newspapers. These claims are not supported by evidence, but they do fuel the myth that supernatural forces must be at play.

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May 11, 2022

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