ThePlace: Al-Ula province is one of the culture and heritage in Saudi Arabia

Photo courtesy: (Royal Commission for Al-Ula)
Updated 14 September 2018
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ThePlace: Al-Ula province is one of the culture and heritage in Saudi Arabia

Al-Ula province is one of the most important sites for culture and heritage in Saudi Arabia, standing as a witness to generations of civilizations throughout history.
It contains great monuments, some of which are visible and some which are buried beneath the ground. It is a land that holds traces of Thamud, Madain Saleh and Al-Hajjar, acting as an integral tourist city, attracting more than 1 million tourists from within and outside the Kingdom
Madain Saleh is the first Saudi site to be taken under UNESCO’s wing in its World Heritage List. King Salman issued a royal decree to establish a Royal Commission in the province of Al-Ula to preserve it, confirming the importance of this historic area and to develop it to achieve the economic and cultural objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
The area of Madain Saleh is about 14.6 square kilometers and has traces of human settlements from the Stone Age. With water, fertile soil and a strategic location on the roads leading to the great cultural centers in the old Near East, it has continued to attract settlements; archaeological treasures and ancient cities date back 4,000 years.
The city of Al-Ula is located between two large mountains and has fertile soil where palm trees, citrus and fruits are planted. Groundwater is available despite the great scarcity of rain.
On the mountain peaks on the outskirts of Madain Saleh, prehistoric artifacts were found that were mentioned in the Qur’an, confirming that Al-Hajjar was a busy and populated area inhabited by the Thamud.
A collection of Thamid, Lihyan, Southern Arab and Latin inscriptions attest to several settlements in the area, pertaining to the first millennium BC. More than 100 years ago, Frenchmen Antonin Jaussen and Raphael Savignac traveled to Al-Ula, undertaking the first serious archaeological research.
On Thursday, the Royal Commission for Al-Ula revealed a new competition called “Name a Rock” where people were given the chance to name rocks in the governorate to encourage people to explore the local rock formations.
Participants should take a photo of a rock formation in Al-Ula and suggest a name for it. In addition, they should provide the reason behind the naming and locate the rock on the map. Winners can receive prizes of up to SR100,000 (about $27,000).


We have a story to share with the Saudi people, says new US official in Riyadh

Cultural and educational exchange programs between Saudi Arabia and the United States help build stronger ties. (AN photo)
Updated 19 September 2018
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We have a story to share with the Saudi people, says new US official in Riyadh

  • We have a story to tell and a story to share in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi people. We are pleased that so many Saudis want to study in the United States: US Public Affairs Counselor in KSA

RIYADH: Cultural and educational exchange programs between Saudi Arabia and the United States “help build stronger ties between the two countries and bring them closer together,” according to Brian Shott, the new US Public Affairs Counselor in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking at a reception to welcome him at the US embassy in Riyadh on September 18, he said: “One of the main things we do is we try to share aspects of the United States and of American culture, but we also learn from Saudis and Saudi culture.” 

In her opening speech, the embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Martina Strong also highlighted the enduring relationship between the two countries, saying: “Tonight is a celebration, a celebration of a friendship that has extended over many, many decades.”

Shott, who previously served in Morocco, Cairo and Baghdad, will be in Saudi Arabia for the next two years, during which he will promote educational and cultural exchanges.

“There are some real opportunities here and we have been fortunate enough to be able take advantage of partnerships with Saudi organizations and Saudi agencies, whether it is the General Authority for Culture or the Ministry of Education,” he said.

“We have a story to tell and a story to share in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi people. We are pleased that so many Saudis want to study in the United States.”

Meanwhile, the reception also served as a farewell to Robin Yeager, the cultural attache in Riyadh. She said that it had been a “very dynamic time to be in Saudi Arabia. It has been a pleasure and an honor to be here at a time when I get to know first-hand the future that Saudis are trying to build.”

The night that women were were given the right to drive, she said she went out and saw the “thrill on their faces.” To assist with empowerment and other progressive policies, embassy staff work on social issues and provide leadership training for women’s groups, she said.

“It is beautiful because they take something that an American expert talks to them about and they turn it into the Saudi way to approach it,” she added. “It’s not that we are changing things; it’s that we are giving them tools, so they can build what they want to build.”