Desert kites: Another ancient geological mystery in Saudi Arabia

Desert kites: Another ancient geological mystery in Saudi Arabia
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There are an estimated 917 kites around Khaybar built in varying shapes and sizes and some dating back to between the fifth and seventh centuries B.C. They resemble gates, triangles, kites, bull’s eyes, and keyholes. (Photos by Moath Alofi)
Desert kites: Another ancient geological mystery in Saudi Arabia
2 / 3
There are an estimated 917 kites around Khaybar built in varying shapes and sizes and some dating back to between the fifth and seventh centuries B.C. They resemble gates, triangles, kites, bull’s eyes, and keyholes. (Photos by Moath Alofi)
Desert kites: Another ancient geological mystery in Saudi Arabia
3 / 3
There are an estimated 917 kites around Khaybar built in varying shapes and sizes and some dating back to between the fifth and seventh centuries B.C. They resemble gates, triangles, kites, bull’s eyes, and keyholes. (Photos by Moath Alofi)
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Updated 10 November 2020

Desert kites: Another ancient geological mystery in Saudi Arabia

Desert kites: Another ancient geological mystery in Saudi Arabia
  • These structures are believed to be villages, traps for herding animals or burial grounds and tombs

JEDDAH: Archaeologists in Saudi Arabia are getting a whole new perspective on the peninsula’s ancient desert civilizations with the help of the latest eye-in-the-sky technology.
Increased access to aerial photography and satellites has opened up high-resolution windows to the map of Arabia and its surrounding region revealing an impressive array of rock structures known as desert kites.
The dry stone-built structures comprising long walls ending in an enclosed area were first discovered in the 1920s when World War I pilots flying over the Levantine and northern Saudi deserts reported seeing constructions resembling polygons, funnels, and triangles.
Scholars have various theories on the purpose of the kites, some believing them to be villages or traps for herding animals, while others consider them to have been burial grounds or tombs.
Spread throughout the western region of the Kingdom, the structures are thought to be Neolithic and are highly concentrated near Harrat Khaybar, one of the largest lava fields on the peninsula.
Aerial surveys have found that the kites’ various shapes could be an indicator of their functions, and they are believed to have been built by early engineers from pastoral tribes over a span of thousands of years.
According to a research study conducted by David Kennedy, Rebecca Banks, and Mathew Dalton, there are an estimated 917 kites around Khaybar built in varying shapes and sizes and some dating back to between the fifth and seventh centuries B.C. They resemble gates, triangles, kites, bull’s eyes, and keyholes. Capt. Abdulazeez Al-Dakheel, a businessman and keen pilot, has been mapping the kites since 2015 from the cockpit of his two-seater aircraft. Together with colleagues, his aerial photography of the structures has been focused across the western region of Saudi Arabia.
Using Google maps and other satellite imaging websites, Al-Dakheel has spent long flying hours pinpointing their approximate locations.
“The structures differ in shape depending on location, some are articulately engineered while others are randomly designed. It’s extremely difficult to confine them in one category or in one area and requires a lot of effort,” he said.
Though most of the structures are believed to be concentrated around the Khaybar lava field, they can also be found as far south as the Empty Quarter.
Artist and explorer, Moath Alofi, has been intrigued by the structures ever since joining up with Al-Dakheel and his team five years ago.
With the help of satellite technology, he said the team had been able to document the structures across the desert landscapes and high-resolution images had enabled archaeologists to further develop their understanding of the structures’ purposes and the engineers behind them.

FASTFACTS

• Globally, 5,809 desert kites have been discovered across Armenia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kazakhstan with the highest concentration found in Syria with 2,500 kites.

• The dry stone-built structures comprising of long walls ending in an enclosed area were first discovered in the 1920s when World War I pilots flying over the Levantine and northern Saudi deserts reported seeing constructions resembling polygons, funnels, and triangles.

“Some of them are very sophisticated and well-engineered. You can find them on the ground, and on the sides of mountain slopes, and the number of kites around Harrat Khaybar is huge,” Alofi added.
In 2017, he unveiled his “People of Pangaea” series of aerial photographs highlighting the desert structures.
Hidden between volcanic craters and lost in the darkness of basalt fields, the shapes can be seen as animals, flat pyramids, wolves howling in the moonlight, and even Christmas trees.
Alofi said: “I’ve been hunting them intensively and have been studying for a long time. It’s an enigma, and the surreal thinking behind it attracts me and dazzles me.
“Just when you think you’ve found it all, you discover new things and it’s a long way to go and explore more.
“The kites are not a recent discovery, they’ve been well known for years but with the help of satellite imagery and aerial photography, the people of Saudi Arabia can be introduced to something unique that helps tell the story of historic civilizations that lived in this land. Our land is riddled with mysteries that are yet to be discovered,” he added.

 


Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drone targeting Khamis Mushait

Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drone targeting Khamis Mushait
Updated 09 May 2021

Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drone targeting Khamis Mushait

Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drone targeting Khamis Mushait
  • The coalition said it is taking operational measures to deal with sources of threat to protect civilians and civilian objects
  • The coalition confirmed that the Houthis’ attempt to target civilians was a serious violation of international law

DUBAI: The Arab coalition intercepted and destroyed a Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait, state news agency SPA reported.
The coalition said it is taking operational measures to deal with sources of threat to protect civilians and civilian objects.

The coalition also confirmed that the Houthis’ attempt to target civilians was a serious violation of international law.

The Iran-backed militia has been intensifying attacks against Saudi Arabia, targeting key oil facilities and civilians amid international and Arab condemnation in support of the Kingdom’s security.

 


KSA poll finds 72 percent fall in Saudi socializing in pandemic-hit Ramadan

KSA poll finds 72 percent fall in Saudi socializing in pandemic-hit Ramadan
The findings revealed a 39 percent increase in mobile phone use and 52 percent of people spent their time on other entertainment activities. (Social media)
Updated 09 May 2021

KSA poll finds 72 percent fall in Saudi socializing in pandemic-hit Ramadan

KSA poll finds 72 percent fall in Saudi socializing in pandemic-hit Ramadan
  • Saudis reduced visits to relatives by 46 percent and to friends by 54 percent, the center found

JEDDAH: A new poll has revealed that Saudis reduced their participation in social events by more than 70 percent amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The results were part of a recent telephone study by the Saudi Center for Opinion Polling that surveyed a random sample of 1,190 people aged 18 years and older during Ramadan.
Saudis also reduced visits to relatives by 46 percent and to friends by 54 percent, the center found. During Ramadan, 42 percent of people maintained regular levels physical exercise, while 39 percent of respondents said they watched less television.
The findings also revealed a 39 percent increase in mobile phone use and that 52 percent of people spent their time on other entertainment activities.
Speaking to Arab News, Arwa Meer, an admin supervisor at a Jeddah hospital, said that she had reduced her social activities due to the nature of her work environment.
“Last Ramadan, I was working for the whole period of the COVID-19 curfews and lockdowns. Even if I had time, I wouldn’t see anyone because I was in constant contact with COVID-19 cases. That was something that made me refrain from seeing anyone,” Meer told Arab News.
However, this year has also created a similar situation, she said. “There’s potential exposure to COVID-19 cases as I continue my work at the hospital. Some of my colleagues got infected, so that made me refrain from social gatherings and visits even more. Even with my family at home, I try to avoid physical contact with them as much as possible, just as a precaution not to possibly infect anyone if I was a carrier.”
When asked if her visits to friends had also changed, the supervisor said the pandemic forced her to become “less social.”
She added: “The pandemic has made us all a little less social actually. It’s been a long time since I’ve last seen my friends. I see them maybe once a month. This Ramadan, I didn’t see my friends at all, not for iftar or sahoor.”

HIGHLIGHT

The results were part of a recent telephone study by the Saudi Center for Opinion Polling that surveyed a random sample of 1,190 people aged 18 years and older during Ramadan.

Sharing the same sentiment, 28-year-old Talal Al-Shammari from Jeddah said that it is “only natural” that family visits will decrease during the current circumstances.
“Nobody wants to be put in such a situation to be infected in the first place. Everyone is afraid for their family members over themselves,” he told Arab News. “No one would ever want to harm their relatives or friends, especially the elderly, those with a weaker immune system or children.”
The survey found that online shopping was also unaffected during Ramadan when compared with previous levels.
Meanwhile, 68 percent of people surveyed reported that higher levels of advertising during Ramadan did not affect their buying decisions. “Another surprising result is that the majority (79 percent) were reluctant to eat in restaurants during Ramadan,” the survey said.
Other results revealed that total hours of sleep during Ramadan increased for just 25 percent of respondents, while the majority of those surveyed said that they did not “significantly change their lifestyles” during Ramadan.
The survey also found that 58 percent of people did not notice a change in their moods or emotions during the period.
Work discipline remained the same for 81 percent of people, as did working hours for 79 percent of respondents.
The Saudi Center for Opinion Polling is a not-for-profit organization authorized by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, and the Ministry of Commerce.


Saudi authorities intensify preparations at Two Holy Mosques ahead of 27th and 29th nights of Ramadan

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said they are working in joint cooperation around the clock. (SPA)
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said they are working in joint cooperation around the clock. (SPA)
Updated 09 May 2021

Saudi authorities intensify preparations at Two Holy Mosques ahead of 27th and 29th nights of Ramadan

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said they are working in joint cooperation around the clock. (SPA)
  • The authority intensified COVID-19 preventive measures inside the Two Holy Mosques

JEDDAH: Authorities in Saudi Arabia intensified preparations to receive pilgrims and worshipers for the 27th and 29th nights of the Muslim month of Ramadan at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
Hani bin Hosni Haider, spokesman for the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, said the authority intensified coronavirus preventive measures, particularly purification and sterilization operations, and technical and transportation operations, including providing vehicles inside the Two Holy Mosques.
Haidar said staff are working around the clock and have also intensified regulating entry and exit mechanisms and services provided to pilgrims and worshipers under the supervision of head of the presidency, Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais.
He said that the presidency coordinated with relevant authorities to organize the movement of pilgrims and worshippers inside the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque and its squares, to ensure their safety and to fulfill the precautionary health requirements.
Haidar said the “presidency was keen to intensify its efforts to achieve the aspirations of the Kingdom’s leadership and highlight the great efforts the state is making toward the Two Holy Mosques.”


Saudi authorities bust hashish, khat smuggling operations 

Saudi authorities bust hashish, khat smuggling operations 
Updated 08 May 2021

Saudi authorities bust hashish, khat smuggling operations 

Saudi authorities bust hashish, khat smuggling operations 
  • A total of 41 people have been arrested in connection with the drug smuggling attempts

RIYADH: Authorities in Saudi Arabia have arrested several people in connection with the seizure of a large quantity of illegal drugs in the Jazan and Najran regions.
Lt. Col. Mesfer bin Ghanam Al-Quraini, spokesman for the Border Guards, said that the seizures came as part of the continuous monitoring of criminal drug activities targeting the Kingdom.
Al-Quraini added that 802 kilograms of hashish was seized in Jazan and Najran, and 25 individuals suspected to be involved in the smuggling operation were arrested, including 14 Yemeni nationals, four Ethiopians, three Saudis, two Somalis and two Pakistanis.
He said that among several other security operations conducted by the Border Guards, 25.4 tons of khat were seized in the Jazan region and 16 people were arrested, all of whom are Yemeni nationals.
The spokesman said: “The Border Guards will continue to carry out their tasks with great determination to confront attempts to smuggle narcotic substances across all borders, and arrest those involved.”


Saudi Arabia’s Hail region arrests 11 people in quarantine measure bust

Saudi Arabia’s Hail region arrests 11 people in quarantine measure bust
Preliminary legal measures have been taken against those arrested in preparation for their referral to the Saudi Public Prosecution. (SPA)
Updated 09 May 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Hail region arrests 11 people in quarantine measure bust

Saudi Arabia’s Hail region arrests 11 people in quarantine measure bust
  • Saudi Arabia has administered more than 10.3 million COVID-19 vaccines so far

JEDDAH: Saudi authorities have said that they are “remaining vigilant” and continuing to penalize people who violate health and quarantine measures in the Kingdom.
On Saturday, media spokesman for Hail region police Tariq Al-Nassar said that 11 people were arrested in the region for violating quarantine rules after they were notified of positive COVID-19 tests.
Preliminary legal measures have been taken against those arrested in preparation for their referral to the Saudi Public Prosecution.
Provisions and penalties mean that those who violate quarantine instructions will be punished with a fine not exceeding SR200,000 ($53,000), or imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years, or both.
If the violation is repeated, the punishment is doubled. Expats who violate these terms and repeat an offense will be deported and prohibited from returning to the Kingdom after completing a sentence.

FASTFACT

The total number of coronavirus cases in KSA reached 425,442.

On Saturday, 997 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the Kingdom, meaning that 425,442 people in Saudi Arabia have now contracted the disease.
Saturday also saw 1,026 new recoveries, bringing the total number of recoveries over the course of the pandemic to 408,676. The Kingdom’s death toll rose to 7,059 after 14 new COVID-19-related deaths were recorded.
Saudi Arabia has administered more than 10.3 million COVID-19 vaccines so far.
There were 69,482 PCR tests carried out in the past 24 hours, raising the total number conducted in the Kingdom to more than 17.4 million.