Saudi village of Rijal Alma prepares to join UNESCO World Heritage List

Rijal Almaa heritage village in Asir Province. (SPA)
Updated 04 August 2018
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Saudi village of Rijal Alma prepares to join UNESCO World Heritage List

  • Rijal Almaa, which won the Prince Sultan bin Salman Award for Urban Heritage in 2007, has become a tourist destination for those visiting the region of Asir
  • The residents’ initiatives to preserve their village are driven by an awareness of its history, culture, nature and moderate climate

JEDDAH: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) prepared the file of Rijal Almaa heritage village in Asir and handed it over to the UNESCO World Heritage Center in January 2018.

The village of Rijal Almaa had won the Prince Sultan bin Salman Award for Urban Heritage in 2007 and has become a tourist destination for those visiting the region of Asir. This importance comes as a result of the numerous historical, cultural, heritage and natural factors, and the hospitality and culture of its residents.

The residents’ initiatives to preserve their village are driven by an awareness of its history, culture, nature and moderate climate — the main reasons behind the decision to rehabilitate and develop the village of Rijal Almaa.

Those elements were the driving factor for a general plan for the development of the village, including its infrastructure, in addition to creating economic opportunities of heritage value that benefit the villagers.

The development plan was the result of the collaboration between many parties that included the SCTH, the authorities of Asir region, a number of government and service agencies in addition to the villagers.

Rijal Almaa witnessed many stages of development. At first came the open theater, which can hold up to 1,000 people, as well as the surrounding areas that are mainly shopping places that showcase the village’s famous products. 

Green spaces were increased by about 7,000 square meters, in addition to 15 canopies, family gatherings at the village entrance and the lighting of the highway leading to the village.

The Commission has taken an interest in the registering of heritage sites considering it “an activity that contributes in shedding light on the Kingdom’s cultural heritage worldwide, in preserving this diverse history, archaeological sites and heritage that enrich the Kingdom and in rehabilitating these sites according to the standards of specialized international organizations.”

The SCTH’s efforts to register heritage and archaeological sites to the Urban Heritage list fall under Kingdom’s Cultural Heritage Care program that includes a system of projects and programs to develop, highlight and preserve national heritage sites.

The Commission has allocated a department, which is a part of the Commission’s antiquities sector concerned with the registering of site in with UNESCO. This department has specialized people and experts in the field and is directly supervised by Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, the Commission’s director.

Saudi Arabia first started registering sites when the government approved the registration of three sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2006. The SCTH later worked on the files of all three sites that were added to the list in 2008, 2010 and 2015, in addition to a fourth site that was registered in 2015. The fifth site was registered during the meeting of the World Heritage Committee held in Bahrain on June 29, 2018.

A royal decree approved the Commission’s request to register 10 new sites to the World Heritage list that included the Rijal Almaa village on Oct. 24, 2014. This came after the SCTH asked the organization to add the 10 sites to its preliminary list through the Kingdom’s permanent representative.


Major projects, investments worth over $685bn unveiled on Saudi National Day

A photo taken on July 5, 2018, shows Bader al-Ajmi, 38,(L) owner of "One Way Burger" serving customers from his truck at a main street in the capital Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 59 min 5 sec ago
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Major projects, investments worth over $685bn unveiled on Saudi National Day

  • The private sector’s contribution to the GDP at constant prices doubled to around SR1236.6 million in 2017

JEDDAH: A major economic boost in the form of 10 major projects and investments exceeding SR685 billion ($183 billion) were unveiled as celebrations of the 88th Saudi National Day got under way.
The Council of Saudi Chambers released a report focusing on great economic achievements in 2017.
These projects reflect the Kingdom’s vision under the wise leadership of King Salman and that of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to provide a brighter future through diversifying sources of national income, tackling environmental challenges and increasing investment and prosperity.
The report summarized the most important events and economic developments in the Kingdom over the past year. These include the lifting of the ban on women driving in June, and the establishment of the General Authority for Cyber Security, in addition to the numerous royal decrees providing financial support to Saudis.
It also noted the important decisions related to the Saudi business sector. These include the launch of a private sector incentive program with a value of SR72 billion, the privatization of 10 government sectors and the establishment of the General Authority for Real Estate. The private sector is still showing a strong performance as an efficient partner in the inclusive development process and in the achievement of the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision, the report noted, as it contributes 39 percent to the Saudi gross domestic product (GDP).
The private sector’s contribution to the GDP at constant prices doubled to around SR1236.6 million in 2017. There has been increased contribution to GDP from non-oil private sector streams.
The private sector also witnessed an increase in the number of workers, in its capital, in the number of shares on the Saudi market, in the cumulative number of establishments operating in the Kingdom, and in non-oil exports.
Continued growth of the private sector was attributed by the report to the Saudi government’s support. This support comes through initiatives such as the removal of obstacles to financial development, improvements to the working environment and policies adopted to boost investment.
It also reviewed the private sector’s efforts to support diversification of the economy and lower unemployment rates.
The importance of the measures taken to prioritize the employment of qualified Saudi workers over the employment of expatriates in the private sector were stressed, as well as the sector’s role in providing education and health services.