Al-Ahsa: Home to the most prominent archaeological and historical sites in Saudi Arabia

Time: June 20, 2019  

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Al-Ahsa contains the most prominent archaeological and historical sites in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied photo)
  • City became the first in the Gulf to be included in UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network in the fields of crafts and folk art
  • It is also home to the largest oasis in the Kingdom, which has had human settlements from the Neolithic times

AL-AHSA: Al-Ahsa is an oasis rich with green spaces and water springs, and was home to many ancient civilizations, some that existed as far back as 6,000 BC.

It contains the most prominent archaeological and historical sites in Saudi Arabia, and has achieved three Arab and international accolades in the last four years.

In 2015, it became the first Gulf city to be included in UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network in the fields of crafts and folk art.

The network brings together 180 cities from 72 countries to place creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level, and to cooperate actively at the international level.

FASTFACT

• In 2015, Al-Ahsa became the first Gulf city to be included in UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network in the fields of crafts and folk art.

• In 2018, Al-Ahsa became the fifth Saudi site on the World Heritage List following Madain Saleh, Al-Turaif district in Ad-Diriyah, Historic Jeddah, and Rock Art in the Hail region.

• Al-Ahsa was chosen as the Arab Tourism Capital for 2019.

The second achievement was UNESCO’s designation of Al-Ahsa as a World Heritage Site in 2018, becoming the fifth such Saudi site. Moreover, Al-Ahsa was chosen as the Arab Tourism Capital for 2019 by the Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism.

These achievements would not have been possible without the Saudi government’s support, and Al-Ahsa residents’ relentless efforts to maintain their cultural heritage.

Al-Ahsa is also home to the largest oasis in the Kingdom, which has had human settlements from the Neolithic times.

Al-Ahsa Oasis includes the Jawatha archaeological site including Jawatha Mosque dating back to the Qarmatain state in the 9th century and Al-Hazm Palace.

Musicians perform at an historical site in Al-Ahsa, (Supplied photo)

Tombs can be seen in several parts of the oasis dating back to ancient civilizations.

It also features a picturesque beach, more than 30 natural springs irrigating the green oasis, and unique urban-style buildings.

Speaking at the inauguration of the 13th annual conference of the Creative Cities Network on June 2, Al-Ahsa Mayor Adel bin Mohammed Al-Mulhem said the city has strived to maintain creativity in folk arts and crafts across many projects and programs.

He underscored the importance of culture in shaping future cities, and its role in sustainable urban development.

Al-Ahsa province is considered the greenest and most fertile land in the eastern region of the Kingdom.

Al-Ahsa gets its name from the nature of its land; in Arabic, Al-Ahsa is a plural word of “Al-Hisa” which refers to the accumulated sand with a solid base underneath. When it rains, the sand prevents the sun from drying up the water.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Riyadh’s Masmak Museum proves big hit during Eid holidays

Time: June 11, 2019  

Masmak Fort is a must-visit destination in Riyadh. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
  • More than 7,000 visited the Masmak Museum during the Eid Al-Fitr holidays
  • •Many of the Kingdom’s most important historical artifacts are found in the museum

RIYADH: Masmak’s Museum attracted more than 7,000 visitors during last week’s Eid Al-Fitr holidays, according to its officials.

Nasser Al-Oraifi, the museum’s director, had earlier invited people to visit the museum after Ramadan to learn more about the Kingdom’s history.

Al-Oraifi said the museum’s preparations started early this year and that guides had been assigned to receive visitors as well as those who were attending celebrations at Riyadh’s Al-Hakam Palace.

The museum houses photographs, maps, models, displays, old weapons, heritage objects, and exhibition and audiovisual halls. It was open from 4 p.m. until midnight during Eid Al-Fitr and offered visitors a range of programs, events and activities.

It is one of Saudi Arabia’s most important historical sites and captures the feel of old Arabia and the struggle that led to the modern Saudi state. The museum emerged from a fort that was stormed by the Kingdom’s founder, King Abdul Aziz bin Saud, in 1902.

“Masmak” in Arabic means high, fortified, thick and huge — important qualities for a fort that witnessed King Abdul Aziz’s initiatives in consolidating the Kingdom.

Masmak Fort is a tourist favorite and a must-visit destination in the Saudi capital. Many of the Kingdom’s most important historical artifacts are found here.

The fort has become virtually an official symbol of the rise of the Saudi nation, capturing the feel of old Arabia and the struggle that led to the modern Saudi state.

Visitors can find traditional dresses and crafts, a diwan with an open courtyard, functioning well, and a mosque as well as several other attractions.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Masmak: Majestic fort in Riyadh opens a door on Saudi Arabia’s past

Time: June 05, 2019  

The museum will be open from 4 p.m. until midnight. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
  • ‘Masmak’ in Arabic means high, fortified, thick and huge — important qualities for a fort that witnessed King Abdul Aziz’s initiatives in consolidating Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: One of Saudi Arabia’s most important historical sites, Masmak Fort in Riyadh, will open its doors to visitors during Eid Al-Fitr.

The fort became a focal point in the history of the Arabian peninsula when it was stormed by the Kingdom’s founder, King Abdul Aziz bin Saud, in 1902.

Now the magnificent citadel is home to a museum that has become an important historical destination.

“Masmak” in Arabic means high, fortified, thick and huge — important qualities for a fort that witnessed King Abdul Aziz’s initiatives in consolidating the Kingdom.

Nasser Al-Arifi, the museum’s director, invited residents to visit “this important milestone in the history of Saudi Arabia, depicting the struggles and efforts exerted by King Abdul Aziz to unite this great entity.”

The museum contains photographs, maps, models, display cabinets, old weapons, heritage objects, and exhibition and audiovisual halls. It will be open from 4 p.m. until midnight during Eid Al-Fitr, with a wide range of programs, events and activities aimed at visitors.

Masmak Fort is a tourist favorite and a must-visit destination in the Saudi capital. Many of the Kingdom’s most important historical artifacts are found here.

The fort has become virtually an official symbol of the rise of the Saudi nation, capturing the feel of old Arabia and the struggle that led to the modern Saudi state.

Visitors can find traditional dresses and crafts, a diwan with an open courtyard, functioning well, and a mosque as well as several other attractions.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Culture Ministry keen to preserve Makkah’s heritage

Time: June 01, 2019

The Saudi leadership is focusing on boosting the Kingdom’s heritage. (SPA)
  • Al-Zaher Palace was built in 1946 following King Abdul Aziz’s return from his visit to Egypt, and became one of the official palaces of the state

MAKKAH: Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan visited three palaces in Makkah on Wednesday: King Faisal’s Palace, Al-Saqqaf Palace and Al-Zaher Palace.
This visit is part of the minister’s program to visit cultural sites throughout the Kingdom, aimed at inspecting the infrastructure, listening to the people in charge, and considering the support needed to maintain preservation.
The prince signed a memorandum of understanding with the chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Ahmad Al-Khatib, on April 24 to prepare for the transfer of the national heritage and archaeology sector to the Culture Ministry. Royal directives were issued to renovate King Faisal’s Palace and turn it into a national museum. Al-Saqqaf Palace has been important for Saudis since the late King Abdul Aziz came to Makkah. The palace became a center for government, and King Abdul Aziz received prominent guests there, including Arab ambassadors and heads of Hajj missions. Al-Zaher Palace was built in 1946 following King Abdul Aziz’s return from his visit to Egypt, and became one of the official palaces of the state.
Under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi authorities are focusing on boosting the Kingdom’s culture and heritage, in accordance with Vision 2030.
The Kingdom recently announced that for the first time international artists will be offered the chance to take up residency in Saudi Arabia. The move is among a raft of initiatives announced at an event in Riyadh to launch the Ministry of Culture’s vision and strategy for the future. They include arts prizes, scholarship programs and a culture fund to support artists.
“Today marks a turning point in the history of our nation,” said the Minister of Culture, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan. “It is rare that a nation undertakes such a massive revival of its culture.
“The transformation of arts and culture will benefit all Saudis, young and old, from every corner of our country.  It will help build bridges of understanding.  And for our children, we will build a Saudi Arabia where their creative spirits can flourish.” On the ministry’s Twitter account, the minister said a priority was to support Saudi talent.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Al-Saqqaf Palace has been important for Saudis since the late King Abdul Aziz came to Makkah.

• Royal directives have been issued to renovate King Faisal’s Palace and turn it into a national museum.

“The ministry will work to enable creatives and intellectuals and harness their potential,” Prince Badr said. “We will work to promote culture as an enabler of coexistence and peaceful dialogue, and we are marching confidently toward a promising future.”  During the ceremony, the new Culture Ministry logo, focused on Saudi Arabia’s traditional colors, was displayed on screens as Saudi performers including Mohammed Abdo and Rashid Al-Faris took center stage.
Earlier this month, Prince Badr signed up for a personal account on Weibo, one of China’s most popular social networking websites, becoming the first Arab culture minister on the Twitter-like platform.
Weibo connects more than 445 million active users per month, and includes a number of politicians from around the world, including Indian Premier Narendra Modi and British Prime Minister Theresa May. Prince Badr’s Weibo account aims to promote communication between Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries on the one hand, and China on the other, as well as promote Saudi and Arab culture.

This article was first published in Arab News

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