Misconception about old Jeddah edifice cleared

Updated 14 October 2012
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Misconception about old Jeddah edifice cleared

JEDDAH: The Society of Architectural Heritage Protection Jeddah and the Municipality of Jeddah denied rumors that remnants of a structure in downtown was a church.
Engineers, municipality officials and the building owners discussed the issue of the building during an open discussion in Balad on Thursday.
The discussion was an open invitation to the public, experts, photographers and media, to clarify the “myth” that had spread on the Internet concerning the old building behind the Juffali Mosque.
Sami Nawar, director of Culture and Tourism in Jeddah Municipality who is also in charge of the Jeddah historical area, showed the audience of about 100 people with the aid of a 1930 map drawn by a British citizen that the structure was not the remains of a church.
Nawar said: “We have proof from a survey conducted in 1930 by a British Christian, who documented all the structures in old Jeddah. If this structure was a church, it would have definitely been mentioned, along with the non-Muslim cemetery.”
He also said the building was described in the British surveyor’s documents as the Prince of the Sea’s house (Bait Amir Al-Bahr), and the municipality has the map, which was made available to the public.
Nawar also said: “If there was a church, the British surveyor would have documented it, but I think somebody exaggerated the matter because the building was abandoned for a century.
This was a house, and I request and urge everyone to be careful not to make wrongful claims.”
Abdullah Yousof Baker, a retired engineer who examined the location with engineer Talal Samarkandi, said based on the information he received from his grandparents and extended family, the old structure belonged to someone called Mohammed Ali Abdu. Abdu was an employee at the Hollandi Bank and was later in charge of the desalination plant.
“Speculation always spreads quickly without any proof,” Baker said. “From history books and old statements, it is clear that this house was built in the mid 19th-century by Mohammad Ali Abdu. And at the end of the century he moved out. Since then, the house has remained empty, with no type of activity taking place within it. This has further been ascertained by Ali Abdu’s grandson, who told the society that no one has lived in his grandfather’s house, nor has it ever been a place of worship.”
Moreover, from an engineering perspective, the shape and architecture of the building is reminiscent of Turkish and Arabic designs particular to the era it was built.
“The old building has a unique style and structure because it was built in accordance with the architectural style of that century,” said Baker.
Lamia Bashan, owner of the old building, confirmed that her mother’s uncle, Mohammad Ali Abdu, built the house. “He took this land from the government at that time and built the house to live in,” Bashan said. “My grandfather told us that he built the house especially because he liked the artistic style.
However, it can’t be a church because if you go inside, you can see there is no such space and room for the bishop to stand and people to sit, which we would normally find in churches.”
Al-Sharif Ahmed Al-Hijary, one of the founders of the Society of Architectural Heritage Protection Jeddah and an organizer of the open discussion, told Arab News: “We organized this program to clarify matters and end the speculation. Wrong information is not conducive and that was the reason we took this initiative.”
Al-Hijary also said that the Society wishes to add the old building to the municipality as a heritage building. He further said, they had requested the municipality’s permission to rebuild and maintain the old edifice and use it for the organization’s work.


Clean sweep: Marine waste targeted in Red Sea tourism program

The program for eliminating marine debris will play an important material and moral role with the support of the residents of areas surrounding the seafront. (SPA)
Updated 50 min 10 sec ago

Clean sweep: Marine waste targeted in Red Sea tourism program

  • Debris major cause of death for marine life
  • Disintegration of plastic waste threaten human food resources

JEDDAH: A beach cleanup program targeting marine waste has been launched by the Red Sea Development Co. (TRSDC), the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The firm, which is behind the development of a luxury seafront tourism destination in Saudi Arabia, is already developing a range of environment-friendly policies such as zero-waste-to-landfill, zero-discharge-to-the-sea, zero-single-use plastics, and achieving 100 percent carbon neutrality. On Saturday it launched the Marine Debris Beach Clean Up Program as part of the Red Sea Project. “Eliminating marine debris is receiving increasing attention from the media that it has become a global cause, urging us to participate in protecting our virgin environment for which our seafront is known,” said TRSDC CEO John Pagano.
“The program for eliminating marine debris will play an important material and moral role with the support of the residents of areas surrounding the seafront. It will also shed light on the importance of reducing the use of nonrecyclable plastics, in addition to encouraging the disposing of these substances in a safe and sustainable manner.”
The TRSDC will continue to explore ways for recycled materials to be a source of employment opportunities for the area’s residents, he added. 
TRSDC is an official partner of the United Nations’ initiative to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the cleanup program will initially support two SDGs: Life Below Water and Life on Land. It will expand to support other SDGs, including Responsible Consumption and Production, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Decent Work and the Growth of the Economy, Ending Poverty, and Quality Education.

HIGHLIGHTS

• TRSDC is an official partner of the United Nations’ initiative to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the cleanup program will initially support two SDGs: Life Below Water and Life on Land.

• It will expand to support other SDGs, including Responsible Consumption and Production, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Decent Work and the Growth of the Economy, Ending Poverty, and Quality Education.

• Institutions or individuals wishing to take part in the beach cleanup program can find more details here: www.act4sdgs.org/partner/TheRedSeaProject

Dr. Rusty Brainard, chief environment officer at TRSDC, said: “Marine debris causes significant damage to the environment and is a major cause of death for many marine organism species, which may ingest these substances. Moreover, the disintegration of plastic waste into small pieces that penetrate into the food web base may also threaten human food resources. Our program for eliminating marine litter is a long-term project that includes ongoing monitoring of environmental health, as well as periodic intervention to clean up any waste in the Red Sea Project.”
TRSDC has teamed up with leading academic institutions in the Kingdom, such as King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the University of Tabuk, on a number of educational initiatives, added Brainard.
The partnership between TRSDC and KAUST has led to an international competition — “Brains for Brine” — that encourages academics, scientists, engineers and the water industry to find solutions for managing the disposal of brine, which is a waste product of water desalination, in a sustainable and commercially viable way.
KAUST has also helped TRSDC with marine spatial planning for the Red Sea Project.
As part of the planning process, major environmental studies were carried out to ensure that the area’s sensitive ecology was protected both during and after completion of the development.
The final master plan, which preserves around 75 percent of the destination’s islands for conservation and designates nine islands as sites of significant ecological value, required several redesigns to avoid potential disruption to endangered species native to the area.
Institutions or individuals wishing to take part in the beach clean-up program can find more details here: www.act4sdgs.org/partner/TheRedSeaProject