140 Saudis, 14 Americans honored for returning priceless artefacts to SCTH

Visitors look at artefacts on display at the first Saudi Antiquities Forum in Riyadh on Thursday. (Photo by Ahmed Fathi)
Updated 10 November 2017
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140 Saudis, 14 Americans honored for returning priceless artefacts to SCTH

RIYADH: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) honored 140 citizens during the first Antiquities Forum of Saudi Arabia for their contributions in returning a large number of artefacts to the commission.
The citizens stressed that their response was to the call of Prince Sultan bin Salman, the president of SCTH, and handing in the antiques was a national duty which aims to highlight the history and culture of the Kingdom and its role in human civilization.
The pieces will be displayed in museums across the Kingdom and will be seen by citizens, residents and tourists alike. The honored citizens also praised the role of King Salman in the preservation of the national heritage and history, and they advised other citizens who may have antiquities to return them to the SCTH.
Arab News met some of these honored citizens and talked to them about their motives and feelings.
Eid Al-Yahya, the presenter of the famous TV program “In the Footsteps of the Arabs,” is one of the honored citizens.
Al-Yahya said he found the artefacts in different places during his trips to archaeological sites and immediately turned them over to the SCTH.
He added that these antiquities he returned date back to 700 BC; one of them is a statue of a king of Lihyan, which he found in Um Daraj Temple in the town of Al-Ula while filming an episode of his TV program in 2015. He also found a cup which was used for incense during that era.
Another citizen, Mohammed Al-Humud, said he returned 25 artefacts from the Riyadh area. Some of these belonged to the stone age, one to the pre-Islamic era, and some belonged to the beginning of the Islamic era.
Al-Humud said he bought some of the antiquities from auctions in Riyadh. “I want people to see them because they reflect the civilization and history of the Kingdom.”
On the other hand, the Saudi Embassy in Washington honored 14 American citizens, who used to work in Kingdom, for returning artefacts to the SCTH.
The ceremony took place at the embassy and coincided with the first Saudi Antiquities Forum in Riyadh. Sami Al-Sadhan, the deputy of the ambassador, gave certificates of honor to the American citizens.


Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

Updated 19 April 2018
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Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

  • Cliffs in Tuwaiq were formed as a result of the movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift
  • Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site

Thrill seekers and fitness gurus all over the Kingdom will be pleased to know that their choices for weekend activities have increased. 

Several tour operators in Riyadh have started offering trips to the area known as the Edge of the World, making the location more accessible than ever.

With the country’s obesity rates on the rise and many citizens growing more concerned about their physical health and stress levels, people are seeking ways to maintain their fitness without having to restrict themselves to the monotony of a gym routine.

One such solution that has steadily increased in popularity over the past year is hiking, which many have embraced as being much more exciting and fulfilling than spending hours on the treadmill. And most popular of all for hiking and other fitness activities in a natural setting is the magnificent landmark of Jabal Fihrayn, more commonly known as the Edge of the World.

Described as a “window framed by rock,” the Edge of the World offers stunning views of the valley below, a lush grove of acacia trees teeming with wildlife and vegetation. The spot is well-known for being a favorite of visiting picnickers.

Hikers can choose from several trails of varying levels of difficulty, making their way to the top of the Tuwaiq escarpment to take in the magnificent views at the top of the trail, where the colossal cliff faces drop off to reveal the dizzying height from the valley below. In addition to the rich wildlife unique to the location, you can also find samples of fossilized coral and raw mineral deposits in certain areas of the valley.

The cliffs in the areas were formed as a result of the tectonic movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift situated 1,000 km to the west of Tuwaiq.

Due to the increasing popularity of the site, the authorities have built a hardtop that leads to the gates of the sites and arrangements are in place to protect the area and its natural treasures. 

Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site. The more intrepid explorer also has the option to go alone; though past visitors recommend that solo travelers take an all-terrain, 4x4 vehicle and extra precaution. Visitors can spend the day at the site and leave before 6 p.m. (when the gates are closed for the night) or stay behind for a night of camping to enjoy the sunset and the breathtaking celestial views of a star-studded night sky.

Nora Alfard, amateur hiking enthusiast and two-time visitor to the location, was quick to offer praise about her trip. 

“The trip out there was a bit tiring, but totally worth it,” she said. “The views are stunning, and the hiking itself is not that difficult. Most people should be able to make it to the top without too much trouble.” She said she was likely to go a third time, and encouraged others to do the same.

The Edge of the World is roughly 100km northwest of Riyadh, about 1.5 hours’ drive from the capital. Visitors should be prepared for at least 30 minutes of hiking, possibly more depending on your trail and your level of fitness and experience. Previous visitors recommend bringing water and snacks, and stress the importance of dressing appropriately — hiking shoes only!

Decoder

What is hiking?

Hiking means a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails in the countryside. Day hikers generally carry at least food, a map or a GPS navigation device.