Al Jadid, also known as New Sabhā, is a city located in southwestern Libya, in the Fezzan region. It is the capital of the Sabha District and the Sabha Governorate. The city has a rich history that spans thousands of years, with evidence of human habitation dating back to ancient times.
The precise number of inhabitants in Al Jadid fluctuates over time due to various factors such as migration, political instability, and conflicts. As of the most recent data available, the population of the city is estimated to be around 130,000 people. The majority of the population is of Arab descent, with a mix of other ethnic groups also residing in the city.
The history of Al Jadid can be traced back to ancient times when the region was inhabited by various indigenous Berber tribes. The Fezzan region, including Al Jadid, was an important crossroads for trans-Saharan trade, connecting North Africa with the sub-Saharan regions. The city's strategic location along ancient trade routes contributed to its economic and cultural significance throughout history.
During the Roman Empire, the area that encompasses Al Jadid was part of the province of Africa. The Romans established a settlement known as "Garama" in the vicinity, which served as an important trading post and administrative center. The Romans exploited the region's abundant resources, particularly its agricultural potential, and constructed irrigation systems to support farming.
In the 7th century, the Arab conquest swept through the region, bringing Islam to the inhabitants of Al Jadid. The city became part of the larger Islamic world and experienced a cultural and religious transformation. Islamic influence can still be observed today in the city's architecture, customs, and traditions.
Throughout the medieval period, Al Jadid, then known as "Sabha," continued to be a vital trading center. It thrived due to its location on the trans-Saharan caravan routes, facilitating the exchange of goods between North Africa, West Africa, and the Mediterranean. The city's prosperity was further bolstered by the discovery of vast underground water reservoirs known as "foggara," which provided a reliable water source for agriculture and human consumption.
However, the history of Al Jadid has not been without its challenges. The region faced intermittent conflicts and invasions by various empires and tribes, such as the Ottomans, Tuareg tribes, and Italian colonial forces. These conflicts shaped the city's political environment and affected its development.
Under Ottoman rule, Sabha and the surrounding Fezzan region were administered as part of the Ottoman Empire's Tripolitania province. The Ottomans established a military garrison in the city and imposed their authority, but their control over the remote Fezzan region remained tenuous.
In the early 20th century, Italy sought to expand its colonial empire and gained control over Libya, including Al Jadid, in 1911. The Italians introduced significant changes to the region, modernizing infrastructure, establishing schools and hospitals, and exploiting the area's natural resources. However, the Italian colonial period was marked by resistance from local populations, including armed uprisings and acts of rebellion.
Following World War II, Libya gained independence in 1951, and Sabha became an integral part of the newly formed Kingdom of Libya. The political landscape of the city evolved with the changing dynamics of the country. Sabha saw rapid urbanization and growth in the latter half of the 20th century, with the establishment of new neighborhoods, government institutions, and improved transportation networks.