Saudi Arabia’s “City of Springs” moves step closer to UNESCO recognition

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Tourists can also get a glimpse of the historic forts built around the village. (SPA)
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The village of Zee Ain stands out for its strategic location atop a mountain offering impressive panoramic views of the region’s farms. (SPA)
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The village is home to dwellings made of polished stone, some four stories high, and a famous mosque. (SPA)
Updated 22 January 2019
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Saudi Arabia’s “City of Springs” moves step closer to UNESCO recognition

  • Village of Zee Ain included on a tentative list within the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

JEDDAH: While preserving and restoring national heritage sites is no easy task for any country, ensuring these treasures stand out on the world stage is a whole different ballgame. 
Thankfully, the efforts made by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) have paid off for one village in the Kingdom’s famous Al-Baha region.
The village of Zee Ain, Arabic for “city of springs,” was included on a tentative list within the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization after King Salman approved its nomination in 2015.
The SCTH has since put forth a multimillion dollar comprehensive restoration plan for the village to make it tourist friendly and shed light on its famous, locally made products.
What makes the village of Zee Ain stand out is its strategic location atop a mountain offering impressive panoramic views of the region’s farms.
The village is home to dwellings made of polished stone, some four stories high, and a famous mosque. The area, which is said to be more than 400 years old, was given its name from the permanent water source that flows into the area from nearby valleys.
The SCTH development plan, which has been underway for several years, consists of two stages. The first is restoring several structures to create an open-air museum overlooking the waterfalls, as well as revamping an existing museum.
The second is constructing a village garden and a visitors’ center, which will eventually include an exhibition of locally made products.

Hidden gem
The peak on which the village is built, which is also set against an impressive backdrop of mountain ranges, is renowned for fruit and spices, including banana, lemon, pepper and basil.
Tourists can also get a glimpse of the historic forts built around the village. Legend has it that the springs were dug inadvertently in search of a cane belonging to well-known local.
The development plan also includes carrying out research studies aimed at shedding light on the city’s unique architecture and the raw material with which doors and windows are made.
Zee Ain was home to many tribal battles before the establishment of the Kingdom. The area is also renowned for a battle in which two famous tribes defeated the Ottomans. As such, it is known among locals as the “site of Turks’ graves.”
Locals in Zee Ain have jumped on board the quest to get their hidden gem on the map. More recently, locals have introduced banana festivals in an attempt to attract farmers and tourists.
Its existence in a region already brimming with natural wonders, including Raghdan Forest, as well as traditional markets selling distinct handicraft, has no doubt boded well for the city of springs, which may one day rival the likes of France’s Mont Saint Michel and Italy’s Amalfi Coast thanks to the distinct vantage point it offers and the geophysical beauty with which it is surrounded.


Saudi Arabia arrests 13 accused of planning terrorist attacks

Updated 22 April 2019
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Saudi Arabia arrests 13 accused of planning terrorist attacks

  • Four attackers were killed in failed terrorist attack claimed by Daesh on Interior Ministry building in Zulfi
  • The Presidency of State Security released identities of the 4 attackers

RIYADH: Thirteen people were arrested after finding plans to execute criminal acts that were targeting the Kingdom’s security, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Monday.
The statement published by SPA included the names of the 13 men arrested, in addition to their civil ID numbers.
The spokesperson for the Saudi Presidency of State Security said explosive belts were found during a raid on the house of the Zulfi attackers.
Four heavily armed attackers were killed in a failed terrorist attack claimed by Daesh on an Interior Ministry building in Zulfi, north of Riyadh on Sunday.
The four terrorists that were killed belonged to Daesh.
The Presidency of State Security released the identities of the four attackers: Abdullah Hamoud Al-Hamoud, Abdullah Ibrahim Al-Mansour, Samer Abdulaziz Al-Madid and Salman Abdulaziz Al-Madid.

Saudi authorities discovered a house in Al-Rayyan neighborhood in Zulfi governorate, rented by Abdullah Al-Hamoud, one of the four perpetrators, where they found what resembled to be a factory for manufacturing explosives and explosive belts.
A total of five explosive belts were found, four of which were worn by the perpetrators, and another inside a car. The belts contain detonating keys and grenades with shrapnel-like screws.
Authorities also seized 64 homemade grenades, 61 pipe fittings, of which nine were being processed as pipe bombs, three mobile phones, three pressure cookers ready for detonation, two Kalashnikov machine guns, six pistols, and other various weapons.
They also found four bags (74,900 kg) containing organic fertilizers, along with sets of laboratory glass containers, a number of plastic containers, a package of liquid chemical containers, sulfur-fiber cartons, a homemade explosive detonator and a set of screws that were equipped with shrapnel.
Authorities also seized a set of ATM cards, two national identity cards, SR 228, a number of publications and CD-ROMs with content related to terrorist organization.
The Presidency of State Security said it is continuing to follow up with terrorist elements that threaten the security and stability of the Kingdom.