Wadi e Jin or Wadi e Baida Madina

Meanwhile a road in Melbourne, Australia

And a road in Scotland, UK.

Mystery of Madinah Magnetic Hill Explained

Rugged but beautiful mountains at Wadi al Jinn in Madinah Magnetic Hills

Mysterious Spot in Madinah

During my recent trip to Madinah, Saudi Arabia, the tour guide informed us that we would be taken to this mysterious spot where water can flow uphill. Even vehicle put on neutral gear can travel uphill.
I have never seen these before and it sound exciting. The basic laws of science and gravity that I know do not support these claims, so I looked forward to the trip.
I found out later, phenomenon like this is not only unique to Madinah, Saudi Arabia, but in many places all over the world (see the listing below). It is also known by various names; Magnet Hill, Magnetic Hill, Magnet Mountain, Gravity Hill, Mysterious Spot and Mystery Hill.

Panoramic view of Wadi al Jinn, the Magnetic Hill in Madinah

Location of Gravity Hill in Madinah

The Magnet or Gravity Hill of Madinah is located at Wadi al Jinn (also known as Wadi-E-Baida, Wadi-e-Al-Baida or Jabal Baido), North West of Madinah and is about 37 miles (60 km) from the city center with coordinates 24°43’21″N 39°26’35″E.

The exact location however, is not listed on Google map. The following map shows only the location of Madinah in relation to Jeddah, the second largest city in Saudi Arabia and the main gateway to the holy city of Makkah.

Ride to Magnetic Hill of Madinah

The ride to Wadi al Jinn took us about 30 minutes. It was a beautiful ride in early February and the weather was a cool 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). The initial leg of the journey was scenes of date palm plantations on both sides of the road. Later the scenery changed to rugged, but beautiful mountains.

The journey to Wadi al Jinn, Madinah’s Magnetic Hill are full of date palm plantations, on both sides of the road.Source: greatstuff

We passed through what used to be a big lake, but now dried except for a tiny patch of water. It is a shame to see this happening as otherwise it could have been a perfect spot for picnic. The guide told us that in the old days, the lake was the water supply source for the city.
This area is also a popular place for recreation for Saudi families. On weekends, it will be packed with families from the neighboring area and from other towns. They will bring with them, tents, camping gears, and barbecue sets. On weekdays, it is quiet and empty. A big contrast!

The guide constantly reminded us that we would soon be experiencing the magnetic forces that will pull our bus uphill. Hence, I was a bit worried that these magnetic forces might create havoc to my electronic gear; my smart phone, watch, and camera. I was reassured that this would not happen. Strange answer, but I have to believe him as he too, had a smart phone.

Mountainous terrain and few trees make the horizon difficult to judge if the road is going up or downhill at Jabar Baido or Wadi al Jinn, the Magnet Mountain of MadinahSource: greatstuff

Magnetic Hill Illusion

As we drove along one stretch of the road, the bus driver told us that we are now passing through ‘a magnetic field area’ and he will stop the bus and put it on neutral gear. He will not be pressing the accelerator pedal, but will hold the steering wheel to control the bus movement.
Suddenly, as if by magic, the bus moved and started to gain speed, as it moved on. This is moving up a hilly road and not downhill. The guide reminded us that the magnetic power of the surrounding mountain is pulling the bus uphill. The bus gained speed and it even reached as fast as 75 miles/hr (120 km/hr).

We believed him and was amazed when we saw puddle of water moving uphill. This reminded me of my favorite magician, David Copperfield and his creative and fantastic illusions.
The driver demonstrated this act on another stretch of road, on our way back to Madinah.
Unfortunately, I did not take photo of the speedometer nor took video of the ride as I was too engrossed by the occurrence and forgot to ‘document this experience’.

Magnetic Hill Explained

Despite being an engineer, I must confess that I was completely taken in by the tour guide’s ‘magnetic forces’ explanation. The numerous science fiction books and films that I have read and watched may have blurred my mind.
When I got home, I decided to google for more information and lo and behold, my good friend Wikipedia came to the rescue!

It seems that the areas where these ‘magnetic forces’ are strong are actually optical illusions. The topography of the surrounding area gave an impression that the slight downhill slope seems to be an uphill slope.
The illusion or rather confusion is caused by the surrounding landscape. The mountain, rock outcrop or trees and embankments blended with the horizon and are positioned in a way to trick your mind and eye.
Hence, water that seems to be moving uphill is in reality moving downhill. Likewise, the bus that we were on was moving downhill and was gaining speed as it moved further down the hill! Silly me! I should have known better.

This was proven by several studies including the award winning study by theJapanese scientist. Kokichi Sugihara, from Meiji Institute for Advanced Study of Mathematical Sciences.
This explained why such ‘strong magnetic forces that can pull buses uphill’ would not damage my electronic gears. There are no magnetic disturbances at all!
We can also dismiss the marketing catchphrase ‘gravity forces do not apply in this area’ as the ‘no-gravity’ should also work on anything in that area including us, if we happen to be standing there.

Madinah Magnetic Hill site has beautiful mountains and some are stand alone while some are in contiguous terrain

Madinah Magnetic Hill Explained

The phenomenon of Madinah Magnetic Hill is also an optical illusion of what seems to be an uphill slope is actually a gentle downhill slope.
Sarfraz Khan proved this in his blog where he did a detail study of the distance and slope from Madinah to Al-Khulail Dam. In his study, he proved that the road inclined at a maximum 7% and gradually drops to 0.9% towards Madinah. See the illustration below showing the gradual change in gradient, taken from Sarfraz Khan’s blog site.
You cannot see the slope as the total distance is about 8.7 miles (14 km) and on both sides of the road are mountain terrains. There is no horizon to give you a good reference to see the slope.

Listing of Magnetic Hills around the World

As I had mentioned earlier, magnetic hills phenomenon are in several places all over the world and not just in Madinah, Saudi Arabia.
If you Google ‘magnetic hill’, you will find several websites including those from Wikipedia. Many of these websites are designed and written to a specific hill site.
For full listing of the various magnetic or gravity hill sites around the world, visit Wikipedia Listing for a comprehensive guide.
The listing shows 29 countries with these gravity hill sites. The USA alone has a grand total of 40 gravity hill sites spread over 23 states.
Canada came second with six sites and Australia, Ireland, and the UK tied for the third place with four sites each. Next is Italy with three sites and the rest of the other countries with one site each.