‘Roads of Arabia’ expo plays crucial role in enhancing Saudi-American cultural ties

‘Roads of Arabia’ expo plays crucial role in enhancing Saudi-American cultural ties
Visitors listening to a briefing at the "Roads of Arabia" expo at the Carnegie Museums in Pennsylvania, US.
Updated 28 March 2018

‘Roads of Arabia’ expo plays crucial role in enhancing Saudi-American cultural ties

‘Roads of Arabia’ expo plays crucial role in enhancing Saudi-American cultural ties

RIYADH: “Roads of Arabia,” a premier exhibition on Saudi archaeological masterpieces through the ages, has been successfully hosted by 13 international museums in Europe, the United States and Asia, with the US holding the distinction of hosting the prestigious exhibition a record five times.
The expo, considered the most important mobile Saudi exhibition highlighting the cultural heritage of the Kingdom all over the world, was started in 2010 and was launched for the first time in Europe at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France on Feb. 13, 2010.
It then went to La Caixa Foundation in Barcelona, Spain, the Hermitage Museum of Art and Culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia, the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany, and the Vittoriano Museum in Rome, Italy, before it moved to the US.
In the US the exhibition was first hosted by the famous Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art, which form the Smithsonian Institution’s national museums of Asian art in Washington, DC, followed by the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania, the Fine Art Museum in Houston, Texas, the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, and finally by the Asian Arts Museum in San Francisco, California.
The Asian Arts Museum was the exhibition's fifth and final stop in the US before it went on an Asian tour at the National Museum in Beijing (2016), the National Museum in Seoul (2017) and the National Museum in Tokyo (2018) -- the last stop so far.
During its tour in the US, the exhibition achieved remarkable success noticed in the heavy turnout and interaction by the public and the people concerned with culture, heritage and antiquities. This reflected the strong cultural ties between the Kingdom and the US, and now many international museums are now competing with each other to host it.
Speaking to Arab News Majed Al-Sheddi, director general of media relations at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), said Wednesday: "It is indeed a great feeling that the US hosted the exhibition the highest number of times.The exhibition has contributed to highlighting the Saudi history and heritage amid distinguished engagement by visitors, who admired the archaeological pieces for getting an opportunity to learn first-hand about the Arabian peninsula.”
The importance of "Roads of Arabia" lies in its exposure of the Kingdom’s great heritage and antiquities, which date back to ancient successive civilizations and great cultures in the Arabian peninsula through the ages, he added.
He said these invaluable archaeological treasures are not widely known to a large number of countries, hence it is important to introduce to various parts of the world their great heritage and leading role in human as well as Islamic civilization.
A joint initiative of Saudi Aramco’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture and the SCTH, the expo displays more than 400 antiques that identify the Kingdom through different ages. It also focuses on the influence of ancient trade routes that crossed the Arabian Peninsula and allowed for trade and cultural exchange between different civilizations.
The relics cover many historical periods starting from the Paleolithic period, then the late Arab kingdoms, followed by the prophetic era, the Umayyad, Abbasid, the middle and late Islamic periods, and the unification of Saudi Arabia, followed by a period of significant progress and prosperity in various walks of life.
Most of the archaeological masterpieces are taken from the National Museum, King Saud University Museum, King Fahad National Library, King Faisal Center for Islamic Research and Studies, King Abdul Aziz Library, and a number of regional museums in the Kingdom.
The idea of the exhibition came about in 2006 in response to the directives of the late King Abdullah. It was also in response to the suggestion by former French President Jacques Chirac on his visit to the Kingdom during the opening of “Masterpieces of Islamic Art” exhibition, which was organized by the SCTH at the National Museum in Riyadh in March 2006.