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.


World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

A Saudi woman and her friends celebrate her first time driving on a main street of Alkhobar city in eastern Saudi Arabia on her way to Bahrain on June 24, 2018. (AFP / HUSSAIN RADWAN)
Updated 25 June 2018
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World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

  • As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-ti
  • The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet 

JEDDAH: The world awoke on Sunday to images and video footage many thought they would never see — newly empowered Saudi women taking the wheel and driving their cars.

As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-time drivers.

The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet.

“I hope doing so on the day when women can drive on the roads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shows what you can do if you have the passion and the spirit to dream,” she said.

In a tribute to Saudi female drivers, the Lebanese soprano Hiba Tawaji released a special video of a song she performed live in Riyadh at a concert last December “Today women in Saudi Arabia can legally drive their cars,” she said. “Congratulations on this achievement, this one’s for you!”

Back home in Saudi Arabia, the atmosphere was euphoric. “It’s a beautiful day,” businesswoman Samah Algosaibi said as she cruised around the city of Alkhobar. 

“Today we are here,” she said from the driver’s seat. “Yesterday we sat there,” she said, pointing to the back.

“I feel proud, I feel dignified and I feel liberated,” said Saudi Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena, one of the first women to drive in the Kingdom.

She told Arab News that the event was changing her life by “facilitating it, making it more comfortable, making it more pleasant, and making it more stress-free.”

Almaeena urged all drivers to follow the traffic and road safety rules. “What’s making me anxious is the misconduct of a lot of the drivers, the male drivers. Unfortunately they’re not as disciplined as they should be. Simple things such as changing lanes and using your signals — this is making me anxious.

“But I’m confident: I’ve driven all around the world when I travel, especially when I’m familiar with the area. It’s really mainly how to be a defensive driver because you have to be.”