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Saudi Archaeology Forum calls for involving scholarship students in archaeological work

Participants share ideas at the first Saudi Antiquities Forum in Riyadh on Wednesday. (Photo by Ahmed Fathi)
RIYADH: Saudi scholarship students at the first Saudi Archaeology Forum have said that involving them in archaeological work and enacting legislation to preserve the national heritage were key issues.
Cooperation between the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), the Ministry of Education and universities was the best way to achieve this, they said during a workshop on the second day of the forum.
Other recommendations from the workshop included a partnership between the SCTH, the Ministry of Education and universities to determine the needs of archaeology; sending scholarship students to study technical specialties such as painting, surveying and photography; and the formation of a higher committee to determine scientific needs in archaeology.
Khalid Fayez Al-Asmari, a Ph.D. student in Britain, called for finding ways to overcome the obstacles faced by scholarship students, notably language. He also called for “partnerships with foreign universities to develop programs of archaeology in the Kingdom and expand students’ perceptions and opportunities.”
Mesfir Hamad Al-Qahtani, a Master’s degree student in the US, said that language is also one of the main obstacles for archaeology scholarship students, as well as the lack of guidance for important disciplines.
Fahda Salman bin Afizan, a Ph.D. student in France, stressed that funding and language were among the most important obstacles she faced. “However, we are able to overcome these obstacles because of the importance of studying abroad and what it can add either through comprehensive preparation for study or qualification.”
She called for “the establishment of a higher education committee comprising the SCTH and specialized universities to organize the process of scholarship and identify the needs of the archaeological sector in the Kingdom.”
The workshop included experiences of Saudi students in the study of archaeology in scholarship countries; the development of scholarships programs for archaeology; and the development of relationships between Saudi universities, the scholarship agency and the SCTH to develop the path of research in archaeology.
Faisal Al-Fadhel, a member of the Shoura Council, called for all necessary protection for the Kingdom’s antiquities. He explained that this could be done through the identification of violations and penalties appropriate to these.
“The SCTH and judicial bodies will implement this according to competence, in addition to obligating the violator to repair the damage he causes, while ensuring his right to object to the decision or sentence issued against him,” Al-Fadhel said.

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