Kingdom wants Darb Zubaida on UNESCO world heritage list

Updated 24 March 2015
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Kingdom wants Darb Zubaida on UNESCO world heritage list

The historic pilgrimage route from Iraq to the holy city of Makkah — Darb Zubaida — is the new entry from the Kingdom for UNESCO’s world heritage list.
After successful quest last year for historic Jeddah to be listed, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) began preparations for additional historic and archaeological landmarks in the Kingdom and recommended 10 for registration.
“The government has approved SCTA’s request to register 10 sites on the world heritage list. One of them is Darb Zubaida because of its cultural and historic importance in Islamic history,” SCTA announced on Sunday.
Saad Al-Rashid, an adviser in the heritage department of SCTA, pointed out that Darb Zubaida was well-known in Islamic history among all Muslims — caliphs, sultans and ministers as well as ordinary pilgrims.
“The Kingdom is very interested in sites relating to Islamic history and Darb Zubaida is one of the most important,” he said.
Darb Zubaida, the Haj route from Iraq to Makkah, is named after Zubaida bint Jafar, the wife of Caliph Haroon Al-Rasheed. Her charitable efforts and various preparations on behalf of all Muslims along the route have been appreciated for hundreds of years.
According to SCTA, this unique route’s history dates back to the pre-Islamic era, but its importance increased after the emergence of Islam, in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Caliphs and later during the time of the Umayyads.
The route reached its greatest prosperity during the Abbasid era when the stations and resting places were provided with water wells, lakes, dams and palaces.
Many services were available along the route.
Among Zubaida’s most significant charitable works which had great impact on the Muslim nation during her life and after her death is Ain Zubaida, an architectural landmark in Holy Makkah.
Darb Zubaida also has economic importance in its contribution to reviving trade from the earliest days of Islam.
The route was busy with Haj and trade caravans from Al-Kufa in Iraq to Makkah and Madinah. It was a bridge linking Iraq and the eastern Islamic areas with the Two Holy Mosques, passing to other parts of the Arabian Peninsula, including Yemen, besides connecting Arabia’s eastern section with Africa and the far west.


UN commends Saudi Arabia’s promotion of disability rights

Updated 4 min 35 sec ago
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UN commends Saudi Arabia’s promotion of disability rights

  • Kingdom has made ‘remarkable progress’ in welfare for disabled people

JEDDAH: The president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, Dr. Bandar bin Mohammed Al-Aiban, said on Wednesday that the Kingdom is committed to promoting the rights of people with disabilities.

Al-Aiban was speaking at the opening of the “Rights of People with Disabilities” symposium in Riyadh, organized by the commission in cooperation with the local office of the UN. The symposium focused on currently available services — and plans for their development — in Saudi Arabia for disabled people, and discussed the challenges facing this segment of Saudi society.

UN Resident Coordinator in Saudi Arabia Nathalie Fustier said the UN appreciates the Kingdom's efforts, citing the Kingdom's ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol in 2008 as an example of Saudi’s support for the cause.

Mayssam Tamim, the assistant resident representative of the UN Development Program, described the Kingdom’s progress in ensuring the rights of people with special needs as “remarkable,” highlighting the increase in the number of associations and centers dedicated to their rehabilitation; the improvement in health care services; the drive to monitor the health of children likely to develop disabilities; and the creation of support offices in health facilities to provide logistical assistance. 

Tamim also discussed the progress in education — pointing out that students with disabilities are being integrated into public schools, where they are provided with social service support and with special equipment including books printed in Braille, audio books, sign language courses, and support services — and in labor and social welfare, highlighting the establishment of the “Tawafuq” employment program in 2014. Tawafuq, which is the Arabic word for success, ensures equal employment opportunities within the private sector for Saudis with disabilities, she explained. 

The symposium featured several papers submitted by Saudi ministries. Dr. Walid bin Khalifa Al-Shumaimeri submitted a paper on behalf of the Ministry of Health, reviewing the services offered to disabled people around the Kingdom.

Al-Shumaimeri presented a number of challenges faced by the ministry, pointing out that some health facilities cannot be adapted to better serve disabled people due to a lack of space or inadequate infrastructure. 

“The statistical survey for people with disabilities may not be accurate enough, thus adversely affecting the geographical distribution of services,” he said. 

Al-Shumaimeri also bemoaned the lack of a unified training program on the rights of disabled people, and how best to handle them, for healthcare workers. At the moment, he explained, “each entity implements its own training programs.”