Ministry’s appeal: Ignore rumors, maintain peace

Updated 10 March 2013
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Ministry’s appeal: Ignore rumors, maintain peace

Major Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, made an appeal last night to people to maintain peace and harmony in the country and ignore rumors.
Addressing a press conference, Al-Turki said only 2,772 people are behind bars in the Kingdom.
“Some of the people, he said, have been using social networking sites to spread rumors that a large number of Saudis are in prison. The fact is that 2,221 Saudis are currently in prison including those in Buraidah, he explained.
Some people are also spreading rumors about the role of policemen in controlling the protests in Buraidah, he said. “This is not true. Members of a deviant group are trying to spread rumors and mislead the local media about those detained in Qatif and Buraidah.”
He said: “The Ministry of Interior is seriously considering a plan under which the name of any accused person and his criminal profile will be uploaded on to the Internet to be seen by the general public.
A total of 112 people, including 12 women, detained for participating in an illegal gathering in Buraidah have been released on bail, he said.
Officials have also completed procedures for the release of another nine people, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Al-Turki said the Saudi government will not tolerate any violence or protests in Buraidah or elsewhere in the Kingdom. He said that government agencies including the police will do their duty to ensure peace and security in Qassim. A total of 176 people, including 15 women, were arrested last Friday after they staged a sit-in protest outside the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution in the city.
Al-Turki said that the security authorities are currently examining charges against other detainees. He pointed out that protesters were detained after they repeatedly flouted orders from security agencies to maintain peace in the city.
He said that demonstrators were trying to create problems and influence public opinion in the name of those who have been accused of crimes in the past.
The protesters, he said, were demanding the release of several members of “deviant groups” convicted by the courts in Qassim region.
He said that the Kingdom has taken several steps to foil terror plots and tackle organized crime and drug trafficking.
Al-Turki took a group of journalists from Riyadh to Buraidah, where he and senior security officials of Qassim region addressed the press.
According to a report published recently, Saudi women will be recruited by intelligence and security agencies. Priority will be given to students on scholarships abroad who are academically competent and have language skills.
The report said that Saudi women will be allowed to work at the General Directorate of Investigation. The decision was announced by Prince Mohammad bin Naif, the interior minister, to a Saudi delegation attending a career event in the Ottawa recently.


A world of treasures yet to be discovered

Updated 5 min 43 sec ago
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A world of treasures yet to be discovered

  • Of the many Saudi UNESCO World Heritage Sites declared over the past decade, Al-Turaif is the newest (and oldest) kid in town
JEDDAH: In an increasingly accessible country with no shortage of cultural hidden gems, Saudi Arabia is in a unique position to develop and showcase its most fascinating heritage sites, from the architectural to the archeological.
Five national treasures have already been added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2008, including Al-Ahsa oasis, Al-Hijr archaeological site (Madain Salih), Historic Jeddah and the rock art at Hail.
The fifth site, recognized by UNESCO in 2010, is Al-Turaif Historical District, the remains of a settlement that dates back to the 15th century. Located in the north-western outskirts of the capital, Riyadh, it is one of the Kingdom’s oldest heritage sites, though its potential was only recognized relatively recently.
It is set against the backdrop of the historic Ad-Dir’iyah oasis, a place that is dear to the hearts of the Saudi people and has a special place in the history of the Kingdom, as the original home of the royal family and the country’s first capital, from 1744 to 1818.
The surviving mud-brick structures, in the Najdi architectural style, overlook the oasis and palm gardens of Wadi Hanifa. They include historic palaces, monuments and administrative buildings used by the First Saudi State, such as Salwa Palace, the home of the ruling family at the time, and Saad bin Saud Palace.
When Ad-Dir’iyah was established as the capital, under the rule of Imam Mohammed bin Saud, the founder of the first Saudi State, tribes from across the desert flocked to the city, which expanded to accommodate them.
The city’s borders ran along the edges of the valley, and the mud-brick walls were designed to cope with the
harsh desert weather, including summer temperatures hat can reach more than 55 C. With a valley below, vast farm lands and palm trees covering most of the region, the city thrived and flourished.
During Imam Mohammed’s rule, Ad-Dir’iyah became one of the most important cities in Najd, thanks to its position on the trade routes from east to west, the military strength of Al-Saud family, and its importance to pilgrims, granting them protection and accommodation during their journeys.
Now, Al-Turaif district is undergoing a major renovation project to preserve the historically important structures
and showcase them as a reminder of the place and time from which the Kingdom’s founding fathers emerged.
This is just one of many projects planned or underway to safeguard Saudi Arabia’s national treasures and develop them as major tourist attractions. As part of the ongoing process, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage last week added 19 archaeological sites to the National Antiquities Register, which aims to develop and preserve Saudi’s heritage sites.
Ad Dir’iyah has long been considered one of the nation’s greatest treasures. In the run-up to the celebrations in 1999 for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,
King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, at the time the governor of Riyadh, ordered the formation of a committee to develop Ad-Dir’iyah, following a request by Prince Sultan bin Salman, the president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage. The main aim was to preserve the historic mud-brick buildings and monuments of Al-Turaif, as part of a wider program to develop the Historic Ad Dir’iyah site.
The SCTH has launched many projects across the country as part of an ongoing overall effort to transform Saudi Arabia into one of the top tourism destinations in the Middle East.
In 2010, Al-Turaif District became a registered World Heritage site after a number of development projects were carried out in preparation for its inclusion. The development program, drawn up by the Riyadh Development Authority in corporation with the SCTH and Ad Dir’iyah Governate, focused on the historic and political and cultural value of the city.
Ad-Dir’iyah Salwa Palace Museum and the Imam Mohammed bin Saud Mosque are among the major buildings being developed and preserved. There are four other attractions in the area: a Social Life Museum, a Military Museum, an Arabian Horse Museum and a Trade and Monetary Museum.
Another main attraction is Al-Bujairi Park, a modern development project that includes a spacious park, cafes, restaurants and an art gallery that is popular with international tourists and locals thanks to its relaxing atmosphere away from the city’s hustle and bustle.
It serves as the main recreational attraction of Historical Ad Dir’iyah between Al-Bujairi and
Al-Turaif Quarter also has steep rock formations, passageways and water creeks, making it a unique location in the capital.
On December 9, 2018, after the GCC Summit in Riyadh, King Salman attended the opening ceremony of Al-Turaif Historical District Development Project in the presence of GCC dignitaries and leading Saudi officials and guests. The project will help transform the Ad-Dir’iyah area into an international and national tourism and cultural hub.
“Al-Turaif has been transformed into an open museum with the restoration and documentation of its archaeological sites,” said Prince Faisal bin Bandar, Emir of Riyadh and chairman of Riyadh Development Authority.
As a key focus of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, tourism is seen as one of the most important sectors that can contribute to job creation in the Kingdom.
It currently employs more than 900,000 Saudis, a number that is expected to rise to 1.2 million by 2030.