The Sarawat Mountains or the Sarat (Arabic: جبال السروات) is a mountain range running parallel to the western coast of the Arabian Peninsula and is among the Peninsula's most prominent geographical features. The Sarawat start from the border of Jordan in the north to the Gulf of Aden in the south, running through Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The range's northern half, known as Sarat al-Hejaz rarely rises about 2,100 meters, while the middle and southern portions (Sarat 'Asir and Sarat al-Yemen, respectively) can reach heights of over 3,300 meters.
This mountain range is the largest in the Arabian Peninsula. These mountains are mainly rocky and some can contain vegetation. Many of the peaks are fairly young and jagged, but some are smoother from weathering.
The northern part, running from about north of Ta'if through western Saudi Arabia until the southern tip of Saudi Arabia. Some argue that the mountains of Lebanon and Western Syria are a continuation of the chain. It is mostly a slightly higher elevated area that the rest of Saudi Arabia, with the exception of Asir, and obscure landforms can be found in this chain. Elevations average around 1200–2000 meters, although the highest points are around 2400 meters above sea level.
After Medina, the mountain chain seems to disintegrate until the reappear around Ta'if. Farther south, below Ta'if, there is Asir Province in Saudi Arabia, where rugged mountains can reach near 3,000 meters, with Jabal Sawda claimed to be the highest at 2,982 meters above sea level. Yet even this part of the Sarawat Mountains is just like a large cliff that climbs out from the Tihamah coastal plain. This is supported by the fact that south of Ta'if, the Hejaz (which means "barrier") is almost entirely around 2,000-2,600 meters above sea level.
Nearing the Yemeni border, the Sarawat begin to spread into individual peaks, and the Hejaz turns from a cliff to a gradual ascent up to the Yemeni Plateau. All of the mountains over 3,000 meters (9,800) feet are located in Yemen. The highest of which is Jabal an-Nabi Shu'ayb, which is the highest peak in the Arabian Peninsula. It is 3,666 meters (12,027 feet) high, located near the capital Sana'a. In Yemen, the Sarawat are divided into the Western and Central highlands, where the western highlands receive plenty of precipitation, more than anywhere else in the peninsula, and the central highlands have the highest mountains in the peninsula. A very dramatic part of the Yemeni Sarawat are the Haraz Mountains, where a few peaks top 3,000 meters but the descents and views from the mountains are staggering; some foots of mountains are only at 500 meters above sea level yet their peaks are at 2,800-3,300 meters.
Geologically, the Sarawat are part of the Arabian Shield, and are made up mostly of volcanic rock. The western slopes end abruptly near the Red Sea coast, while the eastern side of the mountain range slopes downward more gently and is intersected by wadis that support agriculture, especially in the southern reaches of the Sarawat, where the mountains face the monsoons.
Among the cities located within the Sarawat are the Muslim holy city of Mecca, which is located in a valley in approximately the middle of the Sarawat mountain range, and the Yemeni capital, San'a, located near some of the Sarawat's highest peaks.
- Library of Congress Country Study: Saudi Arabia