Historic Taif fortresses were built to last

In this photo is one of the fortresses of the village of Maysan in southern Taif, which is built atop a high mountain. (Wikimedia Commons/Fawaz Alsharif)
Updated 01 December 2017
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Historic Taif fortresses were built to last

JEDDAH: Taif city is rich with antique fortresses and castles that have withstood the test of time over many historical periods. These fortresses and castles, considered very interesting touristic landmarks, have always attracted visitors.

The architecture of these castles and fortresses relied on designs that focused on providing protection from battles, and were also used as control towers, in addition to their strategic importance of being a residential building, making them one of Islamic culture’s best architectural systems.

Saad Al-Joudi, a modern history teacher, told Arab News: “The forts in the south of Taif are known to be the biggest buildings not only for residence. They were built by a group of skilled constructors to protect residents from any interior or exterior assault.”

Al-Joudi also indicated that “the people of Taif built their forts in a special architectural way, benefitting from the richness of the mountain belts in their regions, creating cone-shaped buildings of different scales.”

He added that strong men would push the heavy stones; then the constructors would build the forts using the stones (reaching sometimes 15 meters high). They would use the thick stones first and the less-thick later, as the height increased in order to create a strong and stable defensive base ready to face the enemy.

Mona Osairy, a history scholar, told Arab News that the forts have the capacity to handle the low temperatures in winter and the high heat of summer since the thickness of stones blocks wind, storms, cold temperatures and strong sun rays.

Osairy also said that during wars, forts were used as control towers, stressing that one of the most important architectural designs of the forts is a surveillance chamber on the upper floor, allowing the owner to monitor any possible assault.

She indicated that on the inside of these houses, there is wood paneling that reflects the cultural period, which is something that attracts many European visitors.

Osairy concluded: “What makes Taif stone houses very special is the colored decoration everywhere on the inside and outside of these houses. While men were responsible for the construction, women handled the decoration, and thus the pictures on the forts’ walls reflect the skills of women who expressed themselves by carving in wood.”


Digital-screen buses aim to boost Saudi patriotism

Saudi Islamic Affairs organized a wide range of activities, including a display of Saudi leadership’s visuals on digital-screen buses. (SPA)
Updated 25 September 2018
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Digital-screen buses aim to boost Saudi patriotism

  • King Abdul Aziz International Competition for Memorizing the Holy Qur’an” will be held at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah on Oct. 6

RIYADH: To mark the National Day, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs organized a wide range of activities, including a display of Saudi leadership’s visuals on digital-screen buses, as well as cars distributing gifts among citizens and expats in Riyadh and other cities.
Under the directives of Minister of Islamic Affairs, Sheikh Abdullatif bin Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, more than 28 million text messages are being sent through the Saudi Telecom Company (STC) to promote national values.  The move is taken in cooperation with the General Directorate for Scientific and Intellectual Awareness.
Separately, authorities said recently that “King Abdul Aziz International Competition for Memorizing the Holy Qur’an” will be held at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah on Oct. 6.
Commenting on the event, Al-Asheikh praised King Salman for his special care and attention for the competition. Al-Asheikh said the contest it aimed to encourage Muslims to memorize, recite and interpret the holy book. He noted that the ministry has completed its preparations to receive participants for the competition.