ThePlace: Hail’s rock art

Hail rock art. (Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage)
Updated 16 October 2018

ThePlace: Hail’s rock art

  • It includes two components: Umm-Sinman mountain in the city of Jubbah, and Al-Manjoor and Raat at Shuwaymis
  • This site was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2015

Preserved history enhances the image of a country. It is a treasure the value of which cannot be measured in financial terms. Saudi Arabia has a rich history, preserved in the tales of the many communities that have lived in the region throughout the centuries, and the artifacts they left behind. After long being ignored, many Saudi historical sites have been rediscovered in recent years, attracting curious minds from all over the world.

One such site that encapsulates history is the rock art in the Hail region. It includes two components: Umm-Sinman mountain in the city of Jubbah, and Al-Manjoor and Raat at Shuwaymis. The sites contain some of the best examples of Neolithic rock art. The petroglyphs — images created by carving away part of the rock — include images of the men and women from an era dating back as far as 10,000 years, providing clues to their activities, hairstyles and clothing. Differences in social status is also suggested by a few large figures wearing unique ornamentation, and there are images of animals and hunters.

All of this helps us to understand the past and make connections to modern-day cultural norms that might have originated in that era. These petroglyphs are very well executed and detailed and must have taken a considerable amount of time and effort to carve.

The Om Sinman Mountain site, near the city of Jubbah, is the better known of the two sites. There are relics there that suggest there was once a river in the southern part of the Great Narfoud that was a source of fresh water for the people of the area.

In 1879, Lady Anne Blunt, the daughter of Lord Byron, summed up the location and its rich array of ancient art in her quote: “Jubbah is one of the most curious places in the world and to my mind one of the most beautiful.”

This site was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2015, and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage has made further efforts since 2016 to preserve the site, such as increasing the buffer zone, repainting and refurbishing the petroglyphs and developing a monitoring system.

Saudi Arabia already has five sites already on the World Heritage List — Al-Ahsa Oasis (added in 2018), Al-Hijr Archaeological site (Madain Saleh) (2018), At-Turaif District of Ad-Dir’iyah (2010), Historic Jeddah (2014) and the rock art of the Hail Region (2015) — and is working to double that number by 2030.

The rock art site is a great resource to help us understand the significance of life and appreciate the fact that the imprints of people endure through the generations, and also to awaken a sense of belonging, as such culturally rich places help to tell an epic tale of the journey of humans as citizens of the world.


Diriyah Gate to be a global, historical and cultural landmark

Updated 22 November 2019

Diriyah Gate to be a global, historical and cultural landmark

  • Diriyah is home to Al-Turaif District, built in 1744 and known as one of the largest clay cities in the world

DIRIYAH: With the establishment of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), the historical site of Diriyah will become one of the largest and most important international destinations.

The DGDA seeks to transform the site into a location to host activities and events aimed at exchanging historical and cultural knowledge through museums and venues spread throughout
Al-Turaif District.

 The DGDA aims to celebrate the people of Diriyah by telling their stories and demonstrating their social, cultural and historical the roots, as the cradle of the first Saudi state and a symbol of the beauty of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and
its people.

 Diriyah is home to Al-Turaif District, built in 1744 and known as one of the largest clay cities in the world. It was registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2010 — one of five Saudi sites listed.

Not far from Al-Turaif District is the historic Al-Bujairi District, which was a center for spreading science and knowledge during the prosperity of Diriyah, as the capital of the first Saudi state. 

Today it houses many commercial centers and cafes and is the perfect destination to experience Saudi cuisine.

One of the historical landmarks in Al-Turaif District is Salwa Palace, which is located in the northeastern part. It is the largest of its landmarks and spans over 10,000 square meters. It was founded by Imam Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed bin Saud in 1765, and is historically known as the home of the first royal family. 

The palace houses the Diriyah Museum, which presents the history and development of the first Saudi state through works of art, drawings, models and documentaries.

BACKGROUND

At the northern end of old Diriyah, the town of Ghusaybah sits atop of a plateau surrounded by the Hanifa Valley on three sides.

Salwa Palace forms an integrated architectural system with its residential, administrative, cultural and religious units.

 Al-Turaif District also includes the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Mosque, known as the Great Mosque or Al-Turaif Mosque. It is adjacent to Salwa Palace on the north side, and Imams used to lead Friday prayers there.

 To make movement between the mosque and the palace easier, Imam Saud bin Abdul Aziz built a bridge to connect them on the upper floor. The mosque houses a religious school to teach religious sciences. It was formerly the largest mosque in the Arabian Peninsula and was built to symbolize the strength and unity of the Saudi state.

 At the northern end of old Diriyah, the town of Ghusaybah sits atop of a plateau surrounded by the Hanifa Valley on three sides. It was settled by Mani’ Al-Muraydi, the oldest ancestor of the House of Saud, in the 15th century. 

Ghusaybah is a well-established location, carefully chosen for the establishment of the new governorate, and its location played a major role in the protection of Hajj convoys and trade passing through its areas of influence in Al-Arid region.

 Ghusaybah was the seat of an independent governorate before the founding of the first Saudi state. It provided protection for the northern gate of Diriyah during the campaign of Ibrahim Pasha in 1818.

 Samhan is one of the historical areas south of Ghusaybeh on a triangle overlooking the valley when it meets another tributary, the villages of Omran. It directly overlooks the districts of Qusayrin, Mrayih, and Al-Turaif. This location was important during the reign of Imam Mohammed bin Saud and his son Samhan, being a well-fortified site during the siege of Diriyah. It was selected by Imam Abdullah to be his defense headquarters.

 In the field of philanthropy, one may mention “Sabala Moudhi” which was founded by Imam Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed bin Saud, who made it a charitable endowment in the name of his mother, Moudhi bint Sultan bin Abi Wahtan, wife of Imam Mohammed bin Saud. 

It is located east of the Salwa Palace on the southeast of Al-Turaif District. It is a two-story building and was established to provide free accommodation for visitors coming to the city of Diriyah.