Horse exhibition in London highlights rich Saudi heritage

Updated 28 May 2012
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Horse exhibition in London highlights rich Saudi heritage

Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) chief Prince Sultan bin Salman attended an exhibition on horses that traveled from the Kingdom to Ascot at the British Museum under the sponsorship of the Queen.
Following the opening ceremony, Prince Sultan said SCTA’s participation in the “Horses from Saudi Arabia to Ascot Royal Races” exhibition followed directives from Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, who he said was the force behind preserving the country’s civilization and its history and heritage.
“The king has directed us to take good care of the Kingdom’s national antiquities and to project them to the world so it can witness the deep-rooted historical civilization of Saudi Arabia and its people,” he said.
Prince Sultan pointed out the SCTA was keen to participate in this exhibition to display some of the archeological discoveries in the British Museum, considered one of the important museums in the world.
He explained that exhibits from the Kingdom consist of edifices of Arabian horses from the Stone Age in addition to other animals tamed by man to use for hunting.
“There are also other stone works including arrow heads and equipment used in daily life beside pieces of wall paintings of horses during the pre-Islamic era collected from various parts of the Kingdom,” he said.
Prince Sultan said the exhibition was an important step for showing some aspects of the Kingdom’s history and civilization. “The participation in this exhibition confirms the government’s keenness to show to the world part of the civilization that prevailed in the Kingdom and influenced by Islam,” he said.
The SCTA chairman said participation in such exhibitions proves to the world community that Saudi Arabia is a land of deep-rooted civilizations and a crossroads for trade and economic exchange.
Prince Sultan expressed thanks and appreciation to Minister of Education Prince Faisal bin Abdullah, chairman of the board of trustees of the Saudi Equestrian Fund, for organizing the exhibition that aimed to play an important role in projecting the Kingdom’s great civilization and confirming the ties between Saudi Arabia and Britain in various fields including horses.
He also thanked Saudi ambassador to the UK Prince Muhammad bin Nawaf for the efforts the embassy exerted in organizing the event.
Prince Sultan will be the main speaker in the symposium to be held today at the Stevenson Lecture Theatre in the British Museum under the title: “Measures to Promote the Civilization Dimension of Saudi Arabia.” He will talk about the Kingdom’s efforts to preserve its history and heritage.


Carpet Diem: Notes on a cultural icon

‘The World’s Ugliest Carpet.' (Shutterstock)
Updated 18 February 2019
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Carpet Diem: Notes on a cultural icon

DUBAI: Five things we learned at Carpet Oasis, the annual festival in Dubai.

The biggest carpet on the planet

No surprise that the world’s largest carpet was created in Iran — Persian rugs are widely regarded as the global benchmark for excellence. No surprise either that it’s installed at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in the UAE — a country with a hunger for breaking ‘world’s biggest …’ records that is probably record in itself. The big rug’s dominant color is green (Sheikh Zayed’s favorite, apparently, and — handily — the color generally associated with Islam). It consists of 2.2 billion hand-tied knots and 38 tons of cotton and wool, and was constructed by a team of 3,000 workers.

The most expensive carpet ever sold

In 2013, an anonymous buyer — believed to be from the Middle East — paid $33.8 million for this sickle-leaf carpet, believed to have been created in the early 17th century in Persia. The price was completely unexpected. Sotheby’s, the auction house, had estimated a sale of around $7 million for the relatively small (2.67 by 1.96 meters) ‘vase-techinque’ carpet from the William A. Clark Collection. But the phone buyer refused to concede, sending the price spiralling to more than three times the previous record.

The oldest carpet known to man

This Russian pile carpet survived from, at least, the 4th century BCE until it was discovered well over 2000 years later in the tomb of a Siberian prince. Who clearly didn’t have cats. As was customary at the time, the prince was buried with his most treasured possessions, the majority of which were stolen by grave robbers at some point over two millennia. But the hole they left behind allowed snow to pile up inside, helping to preserve the carpet until the tomb was found again in 1948. The carpet is now in the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.

The alpha-carpet

Described at Carpet Oasis as ‘The World’s Most Famous Carpet’ — which is tricky to verify given most people can’t name a carpet besides “my living room one” — the Ardabil Carpet is actually one of a pair of silk-and-wool Persian rugs currently belonging to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. They were created in the mid-16th century and come with an inscription from the work of Persian poet Hafiz Shirazi and the central design is based on the interior of the dome of the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan.

The eyesore

Billed as ‘The World’s Ugliest Carpet’ — a claim that would surely be hotly contested by anyone growing up in the West in the Seventies — this monstrosity from Portland Airport in Oregon, USA has become something of an ironic hipster icon, its hideous pattern (based on the airport’s runways) and color scheme replicated on socks, hats and bicycle helmets. The carpet has its own website and social media accounts (yes, it’s more popular than you…) When the airport announced it was going to be replaced, online outrage ensued, and it was recycled into wall hangings and door mats. Rest easy though, its replacement is almost equally aesthetically offensive.