Jordan underwater survey finds parts of ancient port

The discovered ruins are believed to be part of the centuries-old Red Sea port of Ayla, near the modern city of Aqaba. (Flash90)
Updated 28 February 2018
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Jordan underwater survey finds parts of ancient port

AMMAN: Officials say Jordan’s first underwater archaeological survey has detected the outlines of a stone barrier, believed to be part of the centuries-old Red Sea port of Ayla, near the modern city of Aqaba.
Ehab Eid, head of the Royal Marine Conservation Society of Jordan (JREDS), said on Tuesday that the survey spotted an underwater barrier with an L-shape that is about 50 meters long and eight meters wide. He said experts expect to find other port facilities in the future.
The port of Ayla was active from the 7th to the 12th century, part of a trade route linking the Levant with other parts of the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Initial excavations in search of Ayla’s ruins were conducted along the beach of Aqaba from 1986-1997.
According to a report published in The Jordan Times, the unearthed port dates back to the Umayyad period toward the end of the Fatimid period (650-1116 AD), according to the findings of the survey.
JREDS, which implemented the survey project in partnership with different stakeholders, announced the results during a conference in Aqaba.
It implemented the survey in partnership with the USAID-funded project “Sustainable Cultural Heritage Through Engagement of Local Communities,” and in cooperation with the Department of Antiquities.
The Jordan Times quoted JREDS President Princess Basma bint Ali as saying the society seeks to protect the marine environment while also ensuring sustainable development.
“Understanding our cultural and historical values is a tool to increase our commitment toward Jordan and the conservation of its heritage and values.”


Cirque du Soleil prepares ground-breaking show in King Fahd Stadium

Updated 52 min 19 sec ago
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Cirque du Soleil prepares ground-breaking show in King Fahd Stadium

RIYADH: A joint press conference between the MBC Group, the General Entertainment Authority, and Cirque du Soleil was held at King Fahd Stadium on Thursday afternoon to answer media questions and give some details about Cirque du Soleil’s upcoming special performance, part of Saudi Arabia’s 88th National Day celebrations. The show is slated to be one of the biggest performed by the Cirque and their first in Saudi Arabia. It is a one-night-only, exclusive event, designed especially for this occasion.
Daniel Fortin, vice president of Creation at Cirque du Soleil, teased the audience with a few details of the upcoming show. “With a cast and crew of over 300, this is one of the biggest shows we’ve ever done,” he said.
“Without giving too much of the plot away, the story is centered around the sun, and takes place from sunset to sunrise. Everything from the costumes to the stage props was created as a homage to Saudi culture. You’ll see a lot of Bedouin influences in the staging and in the music. We drew inspiration from a variety of sources, such as traditional Bedouin tents, desert scenery, even the stadium itself.”
The show has been in development for six months, and the cast and crew have been preparing for the show at the King Fahd International Stadium since the beginning of August.
The show will contain new technology, and 16 unprecedented acrobatic acts. However, Fortin refused to share too many details. “You’ll just have to see what we have planned at the show.” He said. “But I think you will be impressed. We’re doing things we’ve never done before.”
Tickets to the show sold out in less than 48 hours after their release; an incredible feat as the show has allocated more than 27,000 seats for the performance. Abdulrahman Al Khalifa, spokesperson for the General Entertainment Authority, was pleased— but not entirely surprised— by the public’s reaction to news of the show. “We felt that variety in the types of events we brought to Saudi Arabia was important,” he said, “and we conducted a number of research workshops to determine what sort of events would be well-received by the public. Cirque du Soleil was mentioned frequently in our research, so we’re very happy to have had the opportunity to bring them here.”
MBC head of events Omar Al Radi also expects a big response to the televising of the show, which he estimates will break records. “We’re broadcasting the show live on both our local and international channels, such as those in Europe and in America.” he said.
“We’re expecting over 200 million views. Probably record-breaking numbers. MBC is proud to have been part of bringing this historic event to Saudi Arabia, and we can’t wait for you to see it.”