Saudi artifacts on a worldwide tour, kicking off with Japan

This photo taken on April 16, 2015, a Saudi man walks next to Kaaba door curtain at Riyadh National Museum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP)
Updated 02 January 2018

Saudi artifacts on a worldwide tour, kicking off with Japan

RIYADH: Saudi author and social media influencer Sultan Al-Mousa urged Hhistory buffs to visit the new displays of ancient artefacts showcased in the National Museum in Riyadh. “I urge you to visit them before they are transferred for the planned tour in Japan, and worldwide.”

The National Museum in Riyadh is home to many different antiquities, manuscripts, documents and display boards that showcase eras of the Kingdom’s past in visual form.

Al-Mousa, who is captivated by history and human civilizations, has accomplished much in the field of anthropology, through his love of history and ancient civilizations. Also a member of the Vatican religious dialogues, Al-Mousa is working to bridge religions through his work.

“This field intrigues me; I consider myself a veteran in it, the reason being, I’ve lived through two different phases. The first, a few years ago, was unwelcome and uninteresting to some. You might say there was a struggle in this field of knowledge, to convince people that it would be an asset to us. The next phase was one of awareness, with the 2030 Vision, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s approach to concentrating on the cultural depth of the Kingdom, and now, views have changed.”

Al-Mousa talked about Saudi history and the civilizations that existed in the Arabian Peninsula, and counted various civilizations that still stand in Saudi: “We have many and vast historic civilizations. There is Madaan Saleh, which is mentioned in the Qur’an. We have Kinda’s civilizations, the first and the second, Fao, Al-Daydan and Aad and Thamud that were in the Empty Quarter, and the Ouk in Tabuk.

“The problem is, that all past civilizations were considered a religious taboo; many were told that it was forbidden. If you visit Madaan Saleh, you will find some statues broken into pieces by bullets. Extremists wanted to destroy these precious monuments that were registered with UNESCO in 2008.”

“The Qur’an has mentioned these sites and civilizations as lessons for Muslims,” explaims Al-Mousa.

The Saudi cultural scene is witnessing a phenomenal transformation. In 2013, The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage invited two sheikhs from the Supreme Council of Saudi Scholars, Abdullah bin Suleiman Al-Manee and Abdullah Al-Mutlaq, to visit Maddan Saleh in an effort to dispel old beliefs that historical sites are forbidden. The video of the two sheiks was uploaded on YouTube.

Al-Mousa pointed to the importance of history: “When the Greek economy collapsed, it was saved by the temples of the ancient gods. History has a way of preserving the past, present and future. Concentrating on our past civilization and our history, as well as the history of the world will help our economy boom.”

His latest book, a historical novel based on the life of Nefertiti, has captured the hearts of many. The “perfect woman” has found success among many readers. Relating the tale of the late Egyptian queen, it was welcomed by many Egyptians who admired the novel and thought very highly of it.

In the future, it will be turned into a movie or series: “We are looking for the perfect woman to cast as the ‘perfect woman’.”

Saudi rights body calls for law against underage marriages

Updated 35 min 45 sec ago

Saudi rights body calls for law against underage marriages

  • SHRC said it has studied the matter with a number of concerned agencies
  • SHRC said enacting such a law would protect children and maintain their rights

JEDDAH: The Saudi Human Rights Commission (SHRC), the Kingdom’s official human rights institution, has recommended the immediate issuing of a law to ban marriages to people under the age of 18.

It has also warned guardians that preventing daughters aged over 18 from getting married is a crime for which they will be held accountable.

The SHRC said it has studied the matter with a number of concerned agencies, and there are many negative effects of getting married under the age of 18.

It also noted that the Child Protection Law holds parents and caregivers accountable for children’s upbringing and protecting them from abuse.

Human rights activist Dr. Matouq Al-Sharif said the SHRC, in its statement, is drawing attention to practices by guardians that are contrary to international conventions, in particular the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was ratified by the Kingdom via the commission.

“Based on the Paris Principles, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1993, the SHRC was granted the right to provide the (Saudi) government with advisory opinions, recommendations, proposals and reports,” Al-Sharif told Arab News.

He added that the SHRC is responsible for ensuring that national legislation, regulations and practices harmonize with the international human rights conventions that the Kingdom has signed.

“One of the tasks of this institution is to follow up on the implementation of such formal pacts, and make sure it is effective,” Al-Sharif said.

“From some people’s point of view, Islam gives a guardian the right to wed his daughter. They claim that the Prophet Mohammed married Aisha when she was still 9 or 11, according to some narratives,” Al-Sharif said.

“However, authentic senior Muslim scholars have denied that and said the prophet asked for her hand when she was at that age. They confirm that the wedding was when Aisha was no longer a child.”

The human rights activist noted that the SHRC’s statement is a message to the relevant authorities to enact a law that rejects ideas that are contrary to Islam.

Al-Sharif said that the commission has long sought to change the belief that under-age marriages are permissible.

“It has even interfered to stop a number of marriages to minors in different parts of the country. Moreover, it has issued a medical study in cooperation with the Health Ministry. The study highlighted the health risks to minors of such marriages,” he said.

According to Al-Sharif, the SHRC received a letter from the ministry stating that it had conducted a study on the issue and found serious health risks associated with such marriages.

“The Health Ministry … listed a number of health risks, including osteoporosis … due to lack of calcium, anaemia, abortions, acute high blood pressure that may lead to kidney failure, pelvis and spinal deformities, and many other risks,” he said.

In a statement posted on its Twitter account, the SHRC said enacting such a law would protect children and maintain their rights.

The statement added that many studies have proven that underage marriages have negative physical and psychological effects. It said local and international laws consider people under the age of 18 as children.

The SHRC also issued a statement describing families preventing their adult daughters from marrying as a clear violation of human rights.

The SHRC stressed that Saudi law criminalizes such actions, and that the appropriate authorities would deal with any reported cases. It added that under Shariah law, any woman experiencing such treatment could file a lawsuit.

It has called on relevant authorities to help raise awareness among women about their rights, and to highlight the penalties for those who violate the law.