FaceOf:  Dr. Abdul Aziz Sarhan, secretary-general of the Muslim World League’s relief agency

Dr. Abdul Aziz Sarhan
Updated 16 August 2018

FaceOf:  Dr. Abdul Aziz Sarhan, secretary-general of the Muslim World League’s relief agency

Dr. Abdul Aziz Sarhan has been the secretary-general of the International Association for Relief, Care and Development (IARCD) since Mohammed Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL) and chairman of the board of directors of the IARCD, commissioned him earlier this year.

On Wednesday, MWL sent a team to Indonesia’s Lombok island in an initiative to help restore what last week's powerful earthquake has destroyed.

The secretary-general said that IARCD’s team was working on responding to the needs of everyone affected by the earthquake, and they would assist those in need as prioritized by necessity, especially women and children.

Abdul Aziz Sarhan was born in Makkah in 1950, completed his initial schooling in Makkah, and then pursued a bachelor’s degree in geography and a diploma in education from Um Al-Qura University in Makkah in 1973. 

He received a master’s degree in social studies from the University of Denver, Colorado, followed a doctorate curriculum and instruction in 1982.

During his time in the US, Sarhan founded a student club in Colorado, called the Saudi Arabic School, in 1983 and chaired its board. Along with a group of fellow Saudi students in America, he also started a magazine in Colorado.

Sarhan is well known in the Muslim community for his work with the Muslim World League as the director of the Islamic Cultural Center in Madrid, in 1992 for four years. 

In the years after that until 1995, he served as the secretary of the European Continental Board of Mosques. For the following two years, he was the director of the office of the Muslim World League in South Africa.

He was also the representative of the International Islamic Relief Organization in Spain and South Africa from 1995 to 1996, and was appointed director of the Office of the Muslim World League in France.


Saudi aerial photographer reveals secrets of AlUla Old Town to global audience

Updated 25 November 2020

Saudi aerial photographer reveals secrets of AlUla Old Town to global audience

  • Use of drones by cameraman brings history to life in one of KSA’s most famous archaeological sites

MAKKAH: A Saudi aerial photographer’s passion for history has won him global acclaim for images revealing the secrets of AlUla Old Town.

Ali Al-Suhaimi’s eye-in-the-sky portrayal of the famous Islamic city has helped to provide a fresh insight into the past lives of the inhabitants of the now deserted settlement.

AlUla Old Town, located in the north of the Kingdom about 20 km from the archaeological site of Mada’in Salih, is seven centuries old and filled with mosques and markets that reflect its beauty and heritage.

Rich in history, the region was an ancient trade station linking the north and south of the peninsula and one of the main stopping-off points for pilgrims traveling between Syria and Makkah.

Al-Suhaimi told Arab News that his inspiration to photograph the area from the air came from his deep-rooted desire to find out more about the country’s ancient civilizations.

“The idea from the onset revolved around simulating the history of AlUla region, which has become one of the most important heritage attractions on a local and international level.

“The location includes stone landmarks and high mountains which set a breathtaking rocky harmony depicted by the drones of aerial photographers.

“It was the place of people who set the link with us on architectural and human levels. 

The region is one of the great forgotten treasures of antiquity. (Social media)

They built a town which bears witness to the magnificence and cultural depth and momentum of its human legacy,” he said. Studies of AlUla’s castles have proved that the site was once a thriving community, Al-Suhaimi added. “Photographing these places in all their detail only adds to my enthusiasm for transmitting images to a world craving for the secrets of these places of old times to be unveiled.”

The high-flying lensman has snapped all of AlUla Old Town’s castles and villages, as well as the castle of Musa bin Nusayr, and the Aja and Salma mountains which rise to 1,000 meters.

By using drones, Al-Suhaimi has been able to get close-up pictures of the houses and buildings that occupy the site. “There are monolithic houses that reflect the depth of relationships that linked those people who fused with each other as if they were one family.”

HIGHLIGHT

AlUla Old Town, located in the north of the Kingdom about 20 km from the archaeological site of Mada’in Salih, is seven centuries old and filled with mosques and markets that reflect its beauty and heritage.

He pointed out that although the houses seemed to be randomly clustered together, they were actually “architectural enigmas” which had been cleverly designed to ensure a smooth flow of air in and around them.

Aerial photographs of the town had also raised questions about how its people had been able to move around from building to building in such a close-knit environment.

Al-Suhaimi said he had gained all the necessary licenses to operate drones in the area. “We were keen on taking pictures and transmitting them to the whole world, as internationally it is one of the most outstanding Islamic cities. Its mud houses are living witnesses that resisted time.”

He added that he had been astonished by the positive global feedback from his photographs of the region. One notable feature of AlUla Old Town is the Tantora sundial. The shadow that it cast was used to mark the beginning of the winter planting season.

“They set stones atop one another so that the shadow would be projected on the tip of the stone once per year, which is evidence of the astronomy legacy of the people of the region,” said Al-Suhaimi.