Saudi Arabia retrieves 52,000 historical artefacts since 2011

SCTH President Prince Sultan bin Salman launched a campaign for retrieving national artefacts, including media and cultural programs to inform citizens about the importance of returning them to the SCTH. (SPA)
Updated 22 October 2017
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Saudi Arabia retrieves 52,000 historical artefacts since 2011

JEDDAH: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) announced that it has successfully retrieved more than 52,000 artefacts from inside and outside the country as part of the National Project for Digital Recording of Antiquities, which follows international standards for archaeological recording and archiving.
The project aims to document and store all historic sites, artefacts, historical monument and urban heritage buildings in a comprehensive national digital registry linked to a multi-dimensional digital map, which is compatible with modern GIS technologies and digital databases, maps, images and graphics.
Director-General of Archiving and Protecting Antiquities at the SCTH, Naif Al-Qannour, said: “The new digital recording project stores detailed information and reports about 32,000 artefacts retrieved from outside the Kingdom and 20,000 returned by citizens to the SCTH since Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of SCTH, launched the campaign to retrieve national artefacts in 2011.”
“Some artefacts found their way outside Saudi Arabia through foreign travelers who moved them to other countries.” Al-Qannour continued, “One of the most famous artefacts is the Tayma Stone, which was discovered by Charles Huber and later on displayed at the Louvre Museum in Paris.”
He also explained that many employees of foreign companies, especially those who work in the oil industry, visited many parts of Saudi Arabia to study their geology and natural manifestations, collected the artefacts they found and took them to national museums at their home countries.
“Robbers of archaeological sites sometimes dig for archaeological treasures and achieve fast financial gains,” Al-Qannour said, “By doing so, they are destroying important archaeological evidence found in these sites, be it on land or in the sea.”
Al-Qannour stated that the SCTH will continue to work on retrieving and protecting artefacts and has released a red list of artefacts stolen from their sites inside Saudi Arabia and information about them in order to make them easier to identify. The SCTH has also announced handing financial rewards to those who return artefacts or report their loss or theft.
In 2011, Prince Sultan launched a campaign for retrieving national artefacts, including media and cultural programs and initiatives that aim to enlighten and inform citizens about the value of artefacts and the importance of returning them to the SCTH.
Recently, the SCTH released a list of 140 names of citizens who returned artefacts, reported archaeological sites or cooperated with the SCTH in protecting the country’s cultural heritage between 2013 and 2017 in order to honor them during the First Antiquities Forum, which will be launched under the patronage of King Salman, on Nov. 7 at the National Museum in Riyadh.


Hajj 2018: What’s on pilgrims’ bucket lists

Masjid Quba in Madinah is a favorite destination for Hajj pilgrims, according to tour guides. Below: The Cave of Hira, Al-Baqi’ cemetery and the Prophet’s Chamber allow visitors to step back in time. (Getty Images)
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Hajj 2018: What’s on pilgrims’ bucket lists

  • A number of companies in Makkah and Madinah help people organize their trips, making sure they cover the important sites in the two holy cities
  • Most of the sites in the two holy cities are spiritual, giving pilgrims a sense of the prophecies

RIYADH: Hajj is one of the biggest dreams of every Muslim’s life, and pilgrims looking forward to their stay in Makkah and Madinah say a bucket list is the best way to plan the trip. 

Most of the sites in the two holy cities are spiritual, giving pilgrims a sense of the prophecies. Standing in the places of the Holy Prophet transports them back to the past as if they lived those incredible moments. 

A number of companies in Makkah and Madinah help people organize their trips, making sure they cover the important sites in the two holy cities.

Sayed Shafei, an operation manager for City Sightseeing, a tour company in Madinah and worldwide, told Arab News: “We offer a special tour with a multilingual tour guide presented in eight languages. We also offer 24-hour tickets. We have scheduled tourism trips starting from the Prophet’s Mosque to 12 destinations every 30 minutes. The whole trip lasts for 14 hours a day.” 

Asked about the most popular requests, Shafei said: “Our customers always ask to visit Masjid Quba, the Sayed Al-Shuhada Mosque in Uhud, which is considered a vital historic landmark of Madinah, and Al-Qiblatain Mosque.” 

Most of the group’s customers are from East Asia, but many also visit from Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, Indonesia, Malaysia, the US and Europe.

Munirah Al-Jebreen, an English instructor at Princess Noura University who will perform Hajj this year, told Arab News her bucket list began with an online search. 

“I found a travel guide on Google that has all the best sites in Madinah and Makkah, so I decided to visit Uthman ibn Affan’s Farm and Well in Madinah, the Holy Qur’an exhibition, and one of the most important places I want to visit is the grave of the Holy Prophet,” she said.

The area between the Prophet’s Chamber, which holds his grave, and the Mimbar is known as the Rawdah, which is actually the Garden of Paradise. It is presently distinguished by a green carpet.

Al-Jebreen also listed some of her planned tour destinations in Makkah, including the Cave of Hira, where the Holy Prophet meditated frequently during the first 40 years of his life and the site of the first revelation. 

She will also visit Bilal Mosque and Mount Abu Qubais and, finally, will try Al-Garmushi, one of the famous traditional restaurants in Makkah.