Rijal Alma: Saudi village with a long history prepares for international exposure

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The importance of the village lies in its cultural depth and prominence in trade and architectural arts, represented in tall fortresses that combine beauty and expertise. (SPA)
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Updated 30 October 2018
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Rijal Alma: Saudi village with a long history prepares for international exposure

  • Indications suggest presence of human settlement at the site before 10th Hijri

RIYADH: The village of Rijal Alma has finalized its submission for the UNESCO’s World Heritage List and is now awaiting the arrival of experts from the UN International Organization for Culture, Arts and Heritage.
The importance of the historical and archaeological village lies in its cultural depth and prominence in trade and architectural arts, represented in tall fortresses that combine beauty and expertise. The space is exploited in a remarkable way, where eight blocks rise on a small surface, forming a united bloc with various fluctuating heights, reaching six floors at times, meticulously decorated from the inside and the outside.
Visitors can reach the village of Rijal via several roads, the most important of which is Aqabat Sama, linking Abha and Rijal Alma through the famous tourist Sawda Center in Saudi Arabia. There are also two other roads leading to Rijal, linking it to the province of Muhayil Asir and the Hobail leading to Ad-Darb province in the Jazan region.
The researcher Mohammed Hassan Gharib wrote about the history of the village and its development. He pointed out that “the evidence of civilization is depicted in buildings, roads, reserves, agricultural planning, wells, crowded cemeteries and in what has been revealed in terms of underground houses in valleys and coal in one of the 30-meter-deep wells dating back to 1375 AH in the neighborhood of Asla. This gives definitive indications of settlement and human presence in the village before the 10th Hijri century and depicts the stages of growth and prosperity.”
Gharib confirmed that the old commercial dimension of the village was the most famous in the region: “The traders in this region reached far regions and the sailboats that they used to rent to transport goods from Aden, Hodeidah and Habashah (Ethiopia) remained in the Red Sea, loaded with products and goods they bought from these areas, which made them an important economic power.” He added that the Rijal village has remained for a period of time, the destination for traveling traders coming from the ports of the Red Sea, especially from its local and foreign trade centers, and it also remained the favorite destination for those coming from Jeddah, Qunfudah and Qahma, Jazan, Hodeidah, Aden, and some of the east coast countries on the African continent like Djibouti, Massawa and Ethiopia.
Gharib said that the goods sold in the shops of the village at that time were Indian, Egyptian, Yemeni, European and African commodities. They even used to sell products from East Asia, such as from Japan and China. Some of them used to mix many trades together, such as food, grains, household items, spices, perfumes, jewelry and others.
The Rijal village has undergone various stages of development including an open theater that extends over an area of 615 square meters, and can accommodate about 1,000 people.
Documenting the heritage of the Alma province started while establishing one of the oldest museums in the Kingdom: The “Alma Museum of Heritage” in 1985, in one of the fortresses of the village. This museum has 2,800 pieces distributed in 12 rooms, each devoted for a particular type of heritage such as agricultural tools, clothes, jewels, old cooking utensils and accessories, ancient education tools and many other aspects related to ancient life, in addition to some rare manuscripts.
Gharib said: “The museum was created in 1405 AH upon the initiative of the people of the province to preserve the heritage of the region. Al-Alwan fort was chosen to be renovated in the Rijal village and it is one of the largest fortresses. The villagers in Rijal collected old artifacts donated by the people, and women in the village have also contributed to this work, under the supervision of Alma artist Fatima Ali Abu Qahas. Many women donated their old jewelry and adornments. The work at the museum was completed and then inaugurated by Prince Khaled in Asir in 1407 AH. The museum has become a cultural touristic hub since then.”


Startup of the Week: Sketching one’s own path to success

Updated 16 min 7 sec ago
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Startup of the Week: Sketching one’s own path to success

JEDDAH: When people attain a high level of creativity and are able to dive into their imaginations, they tend to create their own world and maybe their own creatures in their head. This is how a creative young Saudi artist defined her brand, Moshkhmt.
The word “Moshkhmt” is Saudi slang meaning pencil scribble. As the name suggests, it is all about one’s power of imagination. It is all about one’s unique perception of the world and to express it through a simple sketch without uttering a word.
Haneen Turkistany, 24, the founder of the brand, explained: “Fear was the main motive for me to start and create the character Moshkhmt.”
Turkistany used the Moshkhmt character to draw a full graphic novel that was exclusive to Comic Con Dubai 2018 and will be published soon in the Middle East.
The brand offers products such as sketchbooks, notebooks, pins, stickers and wrapping sheets with creative signs and logos using the character Moshkhmt. It also focuses on the moon, stars and the outer space.
All products are available at @crate.ksa.
Explaining the basic concept and aim of Moshkhmt, Turkistany said: “Moshkhmt is there in each one of us, young and old. It is there in our memories and dreams, our joy and pain. It could be a loved one or a target we aspire to achieve. Moshkhmt is not just a brand. It is a story in every heartbeat, and I can say that life is mainly my audience.’’
Such startups encourage the creative side of all talented Saudi youths, as they make them realize the ultimate goal in life is not just material well-being or to run after wealth. With the right attitude and using one’s talent in a positive manner, wealth and success follow. This is what Turkistany believed in and launched her brand in July 2017.
She is not only an artist but also an intellectual with a message to convey to the world. “All I wish for is that people should stop underestimating the power of their feelings (and ideas),” she said.
Turkistany is working on getting her brand recognized for its main concept and plans to continue developing her sketches and character to achieve international recognition.