King Abdul Aziz Palace: A perfect blend of history and architecture

The King Abdul Aziz Palace in Al-Muwayh in Makkah province. (SPA)
Updated 17 March 2019

King Abdul Aziz Palace: A perfect blend of history and architecture

  • The palace has six observation towers, two of which rise above the northern and southern gates while the remaining four are in the corners of the citadel to secure and defend the palace
  • The complex comprises the royal palace, which is a rectangular building located on the western side of the citadel

RIYADH: The King Abdul Aziz Palace in Al-Muwayh in Makkah province was built in 1357 AH of stone in an ancient Islamic architectural style amid the ruins of mud houses. It was the residence of the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Aziz. He used to rest in it during his trips between Riyadh and Makkah and on his way to Hajj, Umrah or summer vacation.
Whenever King Abdul Aziz arrived in Al-Muwayh, he was received by its governor, judge and the governorate’s officials. In addition to meeting them and urging them to look into the citizens’ issues, the king would also meet the locals, discuss their concerns and explore their needs.
King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Research and Archives (Darah) said the palace occupied an area of 14,850 square meters and played a significant role in turning the arid desert into a modern city with decent living standards.
Al-Muwayh, a name derived from “Ma’a”, meaning water in Arabic, is 180 kilometers east of Taif. King Abdul Aziz rested here several times in his quest to unite the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Fouad Shaker, author of “Rihlat Al-Rabi’e” (The Journey of Spring), published by Darah, wrote about King Abdul Aziz’s trip from Makkah to Riyadh in 1365 AH: “From Makkah to Riyadh, we had reached Al-Muwayh, a small village made big by its luxurious architecture, one of the privileges of this glorious Saudi era. The government of King Abdul Aziz had built in that remote and unknown area a luxurious royal place for the king to rest during his travels between Makkah and Riyadh.”
Darah explained that the palace was designed in different forms for fortification and defense, creating a structure with outstanding architectural specifications, surrounded on all sides by walls built of black stone 4.5 meters high and 90 centimeters thick. The complex comprises the royal palace, which is a rectangular building located on the western side of the citadel. It has two entrances, the first of which is the main entrance from the south. It contains several building blocks with 19 benches to the left after entering through the main north gate, the official “Al-Mokhtasar” assembly hall, a dining room, a bedroom and a toilet.
The complex also includes a guest palace, which is a rectangular building adjacent to the royal palace to the east and comprises a range of rooms overlooking the open courtyard with a 3.4-meter-wide main entrance from the north.
In addition, the palace has several towers, two coffee-making rooms, toilets, lodgings for guests, guards and servants, a gas station outside the southern side of the citadel, lodging for the gas station’s workers, and the residential palace, which is a rectangular building in the center of the citadel on the southern side.
The residential palace has six rooms, four of which are bedrooms and one is a living room, in addition to a kitchen, a storage room and a toilet. It also includes lodging for workers, while the towers and attached buildings accommodate the palace’s staff and their families. Sometimes, they were used to accommodate non-official guests. Sheep sheds and warehouses for feed and firewood are located in the eastern part of the residential palace’s courtyard.
Moreover, the King Abdul Aziz Palace compound contains the administrative palace, which is a rectangular building with two entrances, one from the south and the other from the east, in addition to two other entrances, the first of which leads to the mosque while the second leads to the residential palace.
A medium-size mosque is located to the west of the administrative palace and adjacent to the judge’s residence. It has an open-air rectangular courtyard that stretches over 22 meters from west to east and 19.90 meters from north to south.
The judge’s office is located north of the mosque in the palace compound. It is a rectangular building with six rooms, a small hall and a courtyard.
The palace has six observation towers, two of which rise above the northern and southern gates while the remaining four are in the corners of the citadel to secure and defend the palace.
The average length of the north, west and southeastern elevations is 155 meters, while the average length of the south, west and northeastern elevations is 120 meters. The palace’s main gate is in the center of the northwestern elevation, and another gate was set up in the southeastern elevation to serve as an entrance to the emirate.
According to Darah, the airport in which the king’s first airplane landed is northeast of the King Abdul Aziz Palace and the ancient city of Al-Muwayh. The airport comprises a four-room reception hall, a sandpit, and a mosque named King Abdul Aziz Mosque amid the mud houses. The mosque has maintained its original structure but was damaged, making it unfit for holding prayers after Al-Muwayh was transferred to the new location known as the New Al-Muwayh on the Riyadh-Taif highway.


Startup of the Week: Wayakit, the biotech firm helping travelers beat odors and stains

Updated 10 December 2019

Startup of the Week: Wayakit, the biotech firm helping travelers beat odors and stains

  • Wayakit leaves the clothes clean and fresh again

JEDDAH: Wayakit is a biotechnology start-up incubated by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

KAUST Ph.D students Sandra Medina and Luisa Javier are avid travelers who have come up with a pocket-sized product that deals with both odors and stains on fabrics, leaving the cloths clean and fresh again.

Wayakit is also gentler on fabrics because traditional laundry eventually damages them, said Javier, who first moved to Saudi Arabia from Mexico ten years ago.

Her business partner, Sandra Medina, who came from Colombia to study at KAUST, explained to Arab News how Wayakit works. “You just spray the smelly area twice and you’re good to go. In the case of stains, you spray twice and then pat dry it with a tissue and it will disappear,” she said.

The idea for the product came during a trip for a conference two years ago when the travelers realized their luggage was lost “We had to present with our dirty, seven-hours’ flight clothes,” Javier told Arab News.

“We started looking into the possibility then, because there’s not a proper solution to doing laundry while traveling,” she said.

 

They decided they needed to come up with a product that was not pricey, was easy to carry, and did the job by removing stains and bad odors “on-the-go.”

 

 

The duo began by interviewing more than 100 travelers of 23 different nationalities to find out if this was a common issue that travelers struggled with.

 

“From the Entrepreneurship Center at KAUST, we learned the importance of listening first to the customers before designing any product,” said Medina. From these interviews, Wayakit team got the product requirements and then moved into the lab to start working on the formulation of Wayakit. “The amazing facilities and labs in KAUST helped us to speed up the creation of our first prototype. After this, the same KAUST community was the people who first tried Wayakit and gave us feedback. “In KAUST we do not only have state-of-the-art labs, but also a whole entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Medina added.

Wayakit is different from its competitors in that it contains no toxic chemicals, and covers a broader spectrum in covering stains — it is two products in one. It also contains anti-bacterial properties, acting as a sanitizer that “removes all the stains that occur on a day-to-day basis as well as being an odor remover,” Javier said.

The pair went for a biotechnology-based formula that excluded the usage of oxidizers and focused on more organic compounds. “Even the anti-bacterial properties are not toxic as we incorporated these in an environmentally friendly formulation,” she said.

The Wayakit founders had to rigorously test their product, dealing with different types of sweat and stains to perfect their spray. “We had to give testers to travelers to try it out and had to listen to their feedback, then went back to the lab to improve it, in order to make sure the product was as promised.”

Medina said KAUST’s mentorship had also helped their company to develop. “KAUST for us is a catalyst of entrepreneurship and has given us a lot of room to grow our start-up Wayakit,” she said.

KAUST helped Wayakit by giving the advice and support from the start. From entrepreneurial courses to teaching the concepts of building a brand, KAUST encouraged Wayakit to grow from a scientific outlook and helped the founders to better understand the customer.

“As foreigners, it was difficult for us to understand the logistics and procurement of shipping and importing here in Saudi Arabia. KAUST has helped us to face that hurdle in order to be able to reach all our clients in the MENA region and worldwide,” Medina said. “Beyond helping travellers, our mission is to change the way how laundry is commonly done. We found a way to effectively wash clothes reducing water and energy consumption,” Javier said. 

Wayakit has recently began selling in Jeddah’s Homegrown Market, chosen because it is “a Middle Eastern brand store with unique ambience,” said Medina.