SCTA works for UNESCO recognition of Hofuf

Updated 14 December 2014

SCTA works for UNESCO recognition of Hofuf

Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), said that the tourism authority has begun work for registering the "Middle Historical Hofuf" in UNESCO’s World Heritage List under the guidance of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
“All the contents of our national heritage will be restored, developed and preserved and opened for the public and investments,” he said during a visit to the Al-Ahsa municipality on Wednesday.
The SCTA president said that the commission is working with full partnership to accomplish the "Middle Historical Hofuf" project. The file of the project is expected to be ready for submission to the UNESCO in a year. He said: “The file needs lots of work to prove that this site is exceptional and deserves to be registered as a world heritage site.”
Prince Sultan also announced the opening of Aqeer tourist front and said that it would be connected to Hofuf as part of the heritage and historical project.
There are major malls in Riyadh, the Eastern province and in the Gulf. Hofuf must make the most of the opportunity to become a business hub as Al-Ahsa has a bright future, he said, adding that the region is being supplied with municipal services and a road network to help turn it into an economic and historical site.
The SCTA announced earlier this year King Abdullah’s approval for a proposal to register 10 sites for the World Heritage List in the next few years. The sites are: Rock drawings in Hema Well, Al Faw Village in the Riyadh Province, Al-Ahsa Oasis, Egyptian Haj Route, the Levant Haj Route, Zubaida Route, Al-Hejaz Railway, Al-Dre neighborhood in Domat Al-Jondal, Ze Ain Village in Al-Baha Province and Rejal Alma Village in Asir province.
Mayor of Al-Ahsa, Adel bin Muhammad Al-Mulheim lauded Prince Sultan’s announcement about the approval of the 10 sites to be registered with UNESCO including the Middle Historical Hofuf and said that it was a great asset of the Kingdom and needed to be preserved for its cultural heritage and national identity.
Al-Mulheim said that registering it will put it on the global tourism and heritage sites map.
“This region deserves to be registered on the list of architectural heritage sites. It still has some of the traditional structures and the modern buildings in the region are starting to look historical in terms of heights and fronts which will facilitate the registration process,” he said.
The mayoralty is eager to complete the infrastructure of all the historic district sites to the specifications of the UNESCO. The partnership with the commission will have a role in achieving all the objectives that aim to promote the architectural heritage of the region.

World Cup 2018: A Muslim-friendly travel guide

Updated 13 June 2018

World Cup 2018: A Muslim-friendly travel guide


Both Tunisia and Iran are based in the vibrant 800-year-old Russian capital, renowned for its golden domes and stunning orthodox architecture. It is home to the famous Russian ballet and a wealth of art, culture and iconic scenery, including the breathtaking Red Square. A truly multicultural capital, Moscow is home to a sizeable Muslim community, which first began to settle here around the time of the Golden Horde. If you want to explore some of the capital’s Islamic heritage, visit the historic Muslim area, Zamoskvorechie, and head for the ‘Historical Mosque,’ built in 1823 by Muslim tatars. Reopened in 1993 after a lengthy closure under communism, the mosque has recently undergone a major refurbishment. Along with the 10k-capacity Moscow Cathedral Mosque (pictured), it is the capital’s most significant Muslim building.
Halal Food: You’ll find plenty on offer, from highly rated restaurants including Mr. Livanets (Lebanese), Dyushes (Azerbaijani), and Gandhara (Asian) to halal food carts.
Mosque: The Moscow Cathedral Mosque on Pereulok Vypolzov.
Qibla: South.

Saint Petersburg

Saudi Arabia’s national team will be based in this bastion of Russian imperialism, known as the Russian ‘Venice’ for its stunning network of canals, neo-Renaissance architecture and its plethora of culture, arts and all things splendid. Visitors can enjoy a wealth of museums, galleries, open promenades and the finest dining in the northern hemisphere — talking of which, sun lovers will be delighted to know that during the World Cup the sun will barely dip below the horizon. Muslim visitors should not miss the St. Petersburg Mosque’s sumptuous Central Asian architecture and mesmeric blue tiles (pictured) — a design inspired by Tamerlane’s tomb in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
Halal Food: Limited, in comparison to Moscow, but both Eastern European restaurant Navruz and Oh! Mumbai (Indian) have received generally positive online reviews.
Mosque: St. Petersburg Mosque on Kronverkskiy Prospekt.
Qibla: South-east.


Egypt’s ‘Pharaohs’ should feel right at home in the Chechen capital, which is home to a huge Muslim population (its coat of arms features a mosque), making it one of the most halal-friendly destinations on our list. The mosque in question is the city’s flagship monument and main tourist attraction, the Ottoman-style Akhmad Kadyrov Mosque. Modelled on Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Mosque and sited in a serene location on the west bank of the Sunzha River, it is part of an ‘Islamic’ complex also housing the Russian Islamic University, Kunta Hajji, and is the spiritual headquarters for the Muslims of the Chechen Republic. Much of Grozny is still being rebuilt after being virtually destroyed in two wars with Russia in the 1990s and 2000s, much of it through investment from the UAE.
Halal Food: Chechnya is majority-Muslim, so you’ll be spoiled for choice, from fast-food chain Ilis to high-end restaurants in five-star hotels.
Mosque: Akhmad Kadyrov on Prospekt Putina.
Qibla: South-west.


Morocco are based in quiet (at least until the tournament starts), picturesque Voronezh. The city is littered with lush green spaces and stunning churches. It’s home to a large orthodox Christian community, as well as small Jewish and still-smaller Muslim ones. The city’s beautiful 114-year-old synagogue on Ulitsa Svobody is a popular tourist attraction. Those looking for more ‘familiar’ heritage should head to the Kramskoy Museum of Fine Arts on Revolyutsii Avenue, home to an impressive collection of ancient Egyptian works of art on stone and sarcophagi.
Halal Food: Very sparse. The Asian restaurant Bahor bills itself as offering the “only halal food in Voronezh,” and there are reportedly a couple of grocery stores selling halal meat, one in the city’s central market.
Mosque: While no official mosque has yet been built in Voronezh, Muslims do gather to pray. According to, there is an informal mosque on Ulitsa Gvardeyskaya.
Qibla: South.


Essentuki, which will host Nigeria in its Pontos Plaza Hotel (pictured), is famous for its health spas and mineral water, so the 'Super Eagles' should at least be able to relax after their games. Muslim visitors may want to drop by Kurortny Park, where the drinking gallery was inspired by Islamic Moorish design.
Halal Food: Hard to find. There is a kebab house that may be able to provide halal options. Otherwise, head to the area around the mosque in nearby Pyatigorsk.
Mosque: The nearest mosque is 25 minutes drive west in Pyatigorsk, on Skvoznoy Pereulok.
Qibla: Southwest.


It’s all about space exploration in the city where Senegal will be based. Space travel pioneer Konstantin Tsiolkovsky taught in Kaluga in his early years. The town’s main attraction — unsurprisingly — is the Tsiolkovsky State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics, reportedly the world’s first space museum. Second billing goes to the rocket scientist’s quaint old wooden family home.
Halal Food: Very hard to find. Asian restaurant Chaikhana and Russian eatery Solyanka (pictured) appear to cater to alternative dietary requirements, and may be worth a call.
Mosque: The town’s main mosque is a converted building off Ulitsa Annenki.
Qibla: South.