Diriyah on course to become world-class tourist spot

The lecture at the King Abdul Aziz Historical Center in Riyadh focused on plans to develop Diriyah into a world-class cultural and tourist area. (AN photo)
Updated 05 January 2017
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Diriyah on course to become world-class tourist spot

RIYADH: The Riyadh Development Authority (RDA) recently highlighted its program to develop the historic Diriyah into a world-class cultural and tourist area.
Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Rukban, Urban Development Department head, said the program has the support of King Salman in recognition of its national and cultural significance.
Addressing a gathering of heritage specialists and guests at the King Abdul Aziz Historical Center in Riyadh, Al-Rukban said that the historic locations in Diriyah will be transformed into cultural centers under the program.
This will reflect the pioneering role of the city as the capital of the first Saudi state, and the birthplace of Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Wahhab, the Arabian religious reformer.
Diriyah, where the first Saudi state was set up in 1745, has been undergoing huge restoration since 2011.
Al-Rukban said that the ancient and historic neighborhoods of Diriyah will be developed to serve as a nucleus for urban and cultural development.
Sustainable development will also be achieved by preserving natural resources; private investments and contributions to the development program will also be encouraged.
Al-Rukban said that the program’s external operations include landscaping, building rest areas, bathrooms and internal parking areas.
He said that the neighborhood had been provided with an integrated network of public utilities including water outlets, a drainage and sewerage system, rainwater outlets, electricity, lighting, signboards, maps and informative signs.
The program includes the Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Wahhab Bridge, which connects the neighborhood of Al-Bujairi and that of Al-Turaif.
Al-Rukban said that the comprehensive plan aims at transforming the Al-Bujairi neighborhood into a cultural and service area in Diriyah.
He said that Al-Bujairi neighborhood has a 3,500 sq. meter central plaza encircled by 25 shops and administrative offices.
The neighborhood also hosts the Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Wahhab Cultural Foundation and seeks to become an international hub for researchers in Islamic studies worldwide.

Historic landmark
Al-Rukban said that the Al-Turaif development program had revitalized the neighborhood as a historic landmark and an exhibition of integration and harmony among architectural patterns and natural forms.
He added that Al-Turaif is Diriyah’s most important suburb as it hosts ancient buildings and historical palaces that go back to the first Saudi state.
The Al-Turaif development program includes the Diriyah Museum in Qasr Salwa, which sheds light on the history of the first Saudi state.
Al-Rukban also said that a reception center will be set up at the entrance to the Al-Turaif Quarter to guide visitors and provide them with information about entertainment, tourist utilities, cultural programs and other activities.
Another historic building has also been restored to host the central offices of King Abdul Aziz Foundation and the Riyadh Documentation Center.
The World Heritage Committee has registered the Al-Turaif Quarter as a UNESCO World Heritage site.


Saudi crown prince calls for establishing health center dedicated to Pakistani hero

Updated 5 min 36 sec ago
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Saudi crown prince calls for establishing health center dedicated to Pakistani hero

  • The directive was issued during the crown prince’s visit to Pakistan on the first leg of his Asia tour
  • Khan managed to save 14 lives, but he drowned as he attempted to rescue the 15th person.

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has called for the creation of a health center in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province dedicated to the memory of a Pakistani hero who saved 14 lives in Jeddah’s 2009 floods, Saudi state-news agency SPA reported.

The directive was issued during the crown prince’s visit to Pakistan on the first leg of his Asia tour.

In November 2009, as flash floods roared through the port city, Farman Ali Khan secured a rope to his waist and jumped into the water to rescue people.

He managed to save 14 lives, but he drowned as he attempted to rescue the 15th person.

He was posthumously awarded the King Abdul Aziz Medal of the First Order by the Saudi government and Pakistan’s Tamgha-e-Shujat by then President Asif Ali Zardari. 

“What this man displayed is a rare act of heroism,” said Rania Khaled, an account executive in Jeddah. “He didn’t pause to think of where these people came from or their nationality — all he cared about was that everyone survived the terrible flood. As a result, he lost his life and that’s what makes his tale so heroic. He cared for humanity, not just his own well-being and safety.
“He set a very high example of what a human should aspire to be. Your background, race and nationality shouldn’t matter; what matters is that we all stand together and help each other. I think if people lived with a similar mindset to that of Khan, the world would be a better place.”
Razan Sijjeeni, a photography instructor in Jeddah, said: “I think what Khan did was not only heroic but also human. It says a lot about the kind of person he was in that moment when he chose to risk his life to save others. He gives us a lot to reflect on — who we are today and how much we should value human lives that are not necessarily related to us.”
Nora Al-Rifai, who is training to be a life coach, said that she hopes Khan’s widow and three daughters continue to receive the help and support they deserve.
“It’s a nice gesture that a Jeddah street was named after him as a reminder to all of us and the next generations of his selflessness and heroism.”