Misconception about old Jeddah edifice cleared

Updated 14 October 2012
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Misconception about old Jeddah edifice cleared

JEDDAH: The Society of Architectural Heritage Protection Jeddah and the Municipality of Jeddah denied rumors that remnants of a structure in downtown was a church.
Engineers, municipality officials and the building owners discussed the issue of the building during an open discussion in Balad on Thursday.
The discussion was an open invitation to the public, experts, photographers and media, to clarify the “myth” that had spread on the Internet concerning the old building behind the Juffali Mosque.
Sami Nawar, director of Culture and Tourism in Jeddah Municipality who is also in charge of the Jeddah historical area, showed the audience of about 100 people with the aid of a 1930 map drawn by a British citizen that the structure was not the remains of a church.
Nawar said: “We have proof from a survey conducted in 1930 by a British Christian, who documented all the structures in old Jeddah. If this structure was a church, it would have definitely been mentioned, along with the non-Muslim cemetery.”
He also said the building was described in the British surveyor’s documents as the Prince of the Sea’s house (Bait Amir Al-Bahr), and the municipality has the map, which was made available to the public.
Nawar also said: “If there was a church, the British surveyor would have documented it, but I think somebody exaggerated the matter because the building was abandoned for a century.
This was a house, and I request and urge everyone to be careful not to make wrongful claims.”
Abdullah Yousof Baker, a retired engineer who examined the location with engineer Talal Samarkandi, said based on the information he received from his grandparents and extended family, the old structure belonged to someone called Mohammed Ali Abdu. Abdu was an employee at the Hollandi Bank and was later in charge of the desalination plant.
“Speculation always spreads quickly without any proof,” Baker said. “From history books and old statements, it is clear that this house was built in the mid 19th-century by Mohammad Ali Abdu. And at the end of the century he moved out. Since then, the house has remained empty, with no type of activity taking place within it. This has further been ascertained by Ali Abdu’s grandson, who told the society that no one has lived in his grandfather’s house, nor has it ever been a place of worship.”
Moreover, from an engineering perspective, the shape and architecture of the building is reminiscent of Turkish and Arabic designs particular to the era it was built.
“The old building has a unique style and structure because it was built in accordance with the architectural style of that century,” said Baker.
Lamia Bashan, owner of the old building, confirmed that her mother’s uncle, Mohammad Ali Abdu, built the house. “He took this land from the government at that time and built the house to live in,” Bashan said. “My grandfather told us that he built the house especially because he liked the artistic style.
However, it can’t be a church because if you go inside, you can see there is no such space and room for the bishop to stand and people to sit, which we would normally find in churches.”
Al-Sharif Ahmed Al-Hijary, one of the founders of the Society of Architectural Heritage Protection Jeddah and an organizer of the open discussion, told Arab News: “We organized this program to clarify matters and end the speculation. Wrong information is not conducive and that was the reason we took this initiative.”
Al-Hijary also said that the Society wishes to add the old building to the municipality as a heritage building. He further said, they had requested the municipality’s permission to rebuild and maintain the old edifice and use it for the organization’s work.


Salman Khan, Cuba Gooding Jr. to host discussions during Saudi Film Festival

Updated 21 March 2019
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Salman Khan, Cuba Gooding Jr. to host discussions during Saudi Film Festival

  • The six-day celebration of cinema is organized by the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts
  • The Sharqiah Season, the first of 11 Saudi seasons of entertainment, will run until the end of the month

DHAHRAN: As part of Sharqiah Season in the Eastern Province, the fifth Saudi Film Festival will feature Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. and Indian superstar Salman Khan.
The six-day celebration of cinema is organized by the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts (SASCA) in partnership with the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra).
Khan recently announced in a video message that he will visit Ithra on Sunday as a guest of the film festival.
“Hello Saudi Arabia, assalamu alaikum,” he said in the video. “See you at Ithra on the 24th of March, InshaAllah.”
The actor is best known for his performances in blockbuster Hindi flicks such as “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”, “Ek Tha Tiger” and its sequel “Tiger Zinda Hai.”
In “An Evening with the Stars,” Khan will talk about his lengthy Bollywood career as both a film star and a producer.
He has starred in more than 80 Bollywood films, and has produced more than 30 via his production company Salman Khan Films.
On Monday, Gooding Jr. will take to the stage to discuss his 30 years of experience as an actor.
The American is best known for his performances in “Jerry Maguire”, “A Few Good Men” and “Men of Honor.”
Gooding Jr. has played more than 85 roles over the course of his career. He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Rod Tidwell in the 1996 film “Jerry Maguire.”
Tickets to both events, as well as for the film festival as a whole, are available on Ithra’s website.
The Sharqiah Season, the first of 11 Saudi seasons of entertainment, will run until the end of the month, with more than 83 activities in nine cities.