Traveling back thousands of years by reviving KSA's Al-Ula

Archaeological treasures in the northwestern region of the Kingdom are older than Saudi Arabia itself, and barely known to the world. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2018
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Traveling back thousands of years by reviving KSA's Al-Ula

  • The RCU is joining forces with the Arab World Institute in Paris to produce a touring exhibition

JEDDAH: Bathing in the scorching sun of Saudi Arabia for the past 4,000 years and sitting among the sandy dunes of the northwestern region of the Kingdom, lie the country’s archaeological treasures. These treasures are even older than Saudi Arabia itself, and barely known to the world.
The area covers about 52 hectares of well-preserved land in which there are tombs handcrafted out of the rocks, relics from ancient civilizations such as the Greeks and the Romans, archaeological riches dating back 4,000 years and other priceless artifacts from the Ottoman Empire.
The somewhat forgotten land is going to be brought into the spotlight by the year 2020 as a historic collaboration takes place between Saudi Arabia and France.
France excels in the art of preserving history so it is the perfect alliance to meet the goals of making Al-Ula a tourist attraction.
Saudis are cooperating with France in preserving and promoting culture and archaeology.
The French consider this project so prestigious that Gerard Mestrallet, a special envoy of the president, has been appointed for Al-Ula. Both countries share a common approach to national heritage; that culture transcends all borders and should be accessible to all who seek to observe history.
The agreement was signed in the presence of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron as well as Al-Ula governor, the special envoy to Al-Ula and France’s foreign minister. Against the walls of Paris’s Musee De Arts Decoratifs — a wing of the Louvre Palace — sit the illuminated sandstones for the French to experience a sliver of Saudi Arabia’s rich heritage. The Royal Commission of Al-Ula (RCU) has signed an agreement with Campus France, described as the leading international academic and vocational public institution in France, to train young Saudi women and men to become aspiring archaeologists.
The RCU is joining forces with the Arab World Institute in Paris to produce a touring exhibition. Public transport, hotels and restaurants are also part of the plan.
More than 2,100 people applied for traineeships: 200 young Saudi men and women will be trained by the most prestigious institutes in the world; part of the 1.2 million new tourist jobs are expected to be created under Vision 2030.
Cutting-edge technologies and methods such as aerial LiDAR (light detection and ranging), scanning and photos taken from light aircraft, helicopter and drones will also be used.


FaceOf: Rayed Al-Ajaji, CEO of KSA's Universal Metal Coating Company

Rayed Al-Ajaji
Updated 17 November 2018
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FaceOf: Rayed Al-Ajaji, CEO of KSA's Universal Metal Coating Company

  • Al-Ajaji professional experience spans more than 20 years and includes the markets of Saudi Arabia, the GCC, and other Arab countries
  • Al-Ajaji earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering management and a master’s degree in industrial management from the University of Miami between 1992 and 1997. 

Rayed Al-Ajaji is the CEO of the Universal Metal Coating Company Ltd. (UNICOIL) and chairman for the National Committee for Steel Industry (NCSI). He recently spoke at the 13th annual Arab Steel Summit in Amman about how the government and the private sector can work together to ensure future market competitiveness. 

“Despite the fact that so many of our manufacturers are producing at less than 50 percent capacity due to unfair competition, as a country we are a net importer of steel,” he said. “We are leaving billions of economic value on the table.

“We have an opportunity today to work together to stop that and keep this revenue in the country to help achieve our ambitious national growth plans. Our country has invested billions over the years in world-class facilities that manufacture the highest-quality steel products and we must work together to ensure it remains competitive and thriving.”

Al-Ajaji earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering management and a master’s degree in industrial management from the University of Miami between 1992 and 1997. 

He subsequently gained a diverse range of experience in various steel-manufacturing processes, including the commercial steel trade, building materials, and business process re-engineering. 

His professional experience spans more than 20 years and includes the markets of Saudi Arabia, the GCC, and other Arab countries.

NCSI is a not-for-profit organization set up by the Council of Saudi Chambers with a mandate to meet challenges, engage with industry members, and develop a culture of industrial and communal responsibility and commitment toward the realization of Saudi Vision 2030.