Najran formerly known as Aba as Sa'ud, is a city in south-western Saudi Arabia near the border with Yemen. It is the capital of Najran Province. Designated a New town, Najran is one of the fastest-growing cities in the kingdom; its population has risen from 47,500 in 1974 and 90,983 in 1992 to 246,880 in 2004. The population belongs mostly to the ancient tribe of Yam.
Due to its long history, the inhabitants of Najran are made up of many ethnic groups, religions and backgrounds. Islam is the religion of all of the Najranis, with Ismaili Shia forming the plurality of the religious adherents. Hanbali, Shafii and Maliki Sunnis form the second largest ethno-religious group in the city, while Zaydi Shia forms the smallest ethno-religious group.
Najran in Arabic has at least two meanings. It is a term used to describe the wooden frame on which a door opens and is also a synonym for thirsty. Local tradition also has it that the land derived its name from the first man to settle in the area, Najran ibn Zaydan ibn Saba ibn Yahjub ibn Yarub ibn Qahtan.
Najran was the Yemeni centre of cloth making and originally, the kiswah or the cloth of the Ka'aba was made there (the clothing of the Kaba first started by the Yemeni kings of Saba). There used to be a Jewish community at Najran, renowned for the garments they manufactured. According to Yemenite Jewish tradition, the Jews of Najran traced their origin to the Ten Tribes. Najran was also an important stopping place on the Incense Route