RIYADH: A major exhibition using virtual reality technology to recreate historic cities wrecked by terror groups has opened in the Saudi capital.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi on Wednesday inaugurated the “Cities Destroyed by Terrorism” expo being staged at the National Museum in Riyadh.
Organized by the Saudi Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the Arab World Institute in Paris, visitors will be taken on virtual tours of cultural and archaeological sites ruined or under threat of damage by extremist organizations.
The event’s organizers aim to raise public awareness of the importance of preserving the Arab region’s heritage and protecting it from potential threats.
Abdul-Mahdi, who on Wednesday held talks with King Salman on relations between the two countries, launched the expo – open daily from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. through May 18 - in the presence of officials, ministers, diplomats and intellectuals.
The Ministry of Culture has classified “cultural and archaeological sites” and the preservation of ancient monuments as key areas for future support and development.
The exhibition includes photos, videos and exhibits relating to famous cities such as Mosul and Nineveh in Iraq, and Aleppo and Palmyra in Syria, all of which have fallen victim to the forces of extremism and terrorism in recent years.
Using visual displays and the latest technology, the exhibition seeks to accurately simulate for visitors what destroyed cities looked like and, in the process, promote a message of tolerance.
French startup Iconem were tasked with mapping the sites. The event’s organizers aim to raise public awareness of the importance of preserving the Arab region’s heritage and protecting it from potential threats.
“It was very dangerous for them, but it was quite important to get the images of the sites before and after the destruction,” said Aurelie Clemente-Ruiz, the curator of the exhibit last year.
“The exhibition is like a memory for this site (Mosul), architecture, heritage of the entire world. It’s not only (about) the Arab world but it’s really the heritage for everyone and it’s very important to understand that. It’s part of our own history that was destroyed in this conflict.”
Abdul Mahdi later signed a number of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) between Iraq and the Kingdom, and briefly joined discussions between his country’s oil ministry and the Kingdom’s minister of commerce and investment, Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi, before leaving Riyadh for an official visit to Jeddah.