RIYADH: ARAB NEWS
Published — Saturday 1 December 2012
Last update 1 December 2012 1:41 am
The Kingdom has started efforts to register the ancient rock paintings of Jubbah and Al-Shuwaymas in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) Prince Sultan bin Salman made the announcement in a recent meeting of the Consultative Committee for Antiquities and Museums at the SCTA headquarters in Riyadh.
Prince Sultan said the royal approval has been granted for the efforts to register the rock paintings of Jubbah and Al-Shuwaymas in Hail province in the World heritage sites.
The Jubbah site lies on an ancient lakebed stretching eastward from the sandstone mountain of Jabal Umm Sanaman (Two Camel-Hump Mountain).
Visiting Hail in 1879, Lady Anne Blunt, granddaughter of Lord Byron, said: “Jubbah is one of the most curious places in the world and to my mind one of the most beautiful.”
The Shuwaymas rock paintings were discovered by Mahboub Al-Rasheedi, a teacher in a town in the Nufud Desert, in March 2001. Commenting on the site, Robert Bednarik, founder of the International Federation of Rock Art Organizations (IFRAO), said: ” Shuwaymas stands ready to surpass ... any other rock-art site on the Arabian Peninsula.”
In contrast to Jubbah, Shuwaymas is surrounded by black volcanic lava, not sand, in one of the dry valley systems in the south of Hail province. It shows images of cheetah, hyenas, dogs, long- and short-horned cattle, oryx, ibex, horses, mules, camels and ostrich; human figures; geometric shapes, serpentine squiggles, inscrutable symbols, carved-out footprints and hoof prints.
“The Shuwaymas area is densely peppered with rock art, and it likely had a very heavy and significant concentration of Neolithic people,” said Bednarik after a visit to the site.
The World Heritage List includes 962 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage, which the World Heritage Committee considers having outstanding universal value.
The SCTA meeting also reviewed the progress of the efforts of an action team that is striving to register the Historic District in Jeddah in the UNESCO heritage list.
Diriya in Riyadh and Madain Saleh in Madinah are two heritage sites that are included the UNESCO list.
The prince stressed the importance of including the heritage locations in the list as such moves would help bring out the cultural and historic richness of the Kingdom.
The meeting also noted the success of the Saudi archaeological masterpieces through the Ages exhibition opened in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. on Nov. 25. The months-long event is expected to attract huge number of visitors as in the case of its previous legs in Europe where it attracted more than 1.5 million people. The exhibition was conducted in France, Spain, Russia and Germany after its launch in 2010.
The meeting also reviewed the progress of efforts to develop private museums so that they could be used for tourism. The commission is making efforts to spread public awareness about the protection and preservation of heritage artifacts owned by private individuals.