RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s cultural rock art in Hima, Najran, has been officially recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The decision was made during the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee being held in Fuzho, China.
The site, the sixth to be enlisted in Saudi Arabia, is home to one of the largest rock art complexes in the world.
Located in southwestern Saudi Arabia, Hima was a conduit for caravans on the trade and Hajj routes going to and from the southern parts of Arabia, to the ancient world markets of the rest of Arabia, Mesopotamia, the Levant and Egypt.
People who passed through the area between pre- and post-historic times have left behind a substantial collection of rock art depicting hunting, wildlife, plants, symbols, and tools used at the time, as well as thousands of inscriptions written in several ancient scripts, including Musnad, Thamudic, Nabataean and early Arabic.
The wells on the site date back more than 3,000 years and were considered a vital source of fresh water in the vast desert of Najran. They still serve fresh water to this day.
“We are thrilled to have this exceptional ancient site recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The area has outstanding universal value, providing us with many lessons about the evolution of human culture and life in ancient times,” said Dr. Jasir Alherbish, CEO of the Heritage Commission.
“We are working to preserve the area and conduct research to further understand the rock inscriptions, and are looking forward to welcoming more local and international visitors to come and see this historic cultural site for themselves.”
The preservation and protection of the Kingdom's cultural and natural heritage is a key part of the Kingdom's 2030 Vision.
Overseen by the Heritage Commission, a raft of new discoveries has cemented the country’s reputation as a go-to destination for archeologists, historians and scientists looking to understand human history across the region.
Last year, the Commission announced one of the Kingdom's most ground-breaking discoveries – ancient human and animal footprints, dating back more than 120,000 years, in Tabuk, marking the first evidence of human life on the Arabian Peninsula.
The Kingdom has also taken serious measures toward protecting national and international heritage. In 2019, the Ministry of Culture signed a Memorandum of Understating with UNESCO to contribute $25 million to the organization’s strategy for the preservation of heritage worldwide.