Uncovering secrets hidden beneath the sands of the Arabian Peninsula

Uncovering secrets hidden beneath the sands of the Arabian Peninsula
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Ancient stone carvings and other discoveries in the peninsula show a land that once flourished with life. Archaeologists have found proof that the historical roots of the people of Arabia go back more than 120,000 years. (AFP)
Uncovering secrets hidden beneath the sands of the Arabian Peninsula
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A bas-relief decorated with a lion dating from the fifth to first century BC, is displayed during the exhibition AlUla: Wonder of Arabia at the l'Institut du monde arabe (IMA) in the French capital Paris on October 7, 2019.
Uncovering secrets hidden beneath the sands of the Arabian Peninsula
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An etched dromedary or Arabian camel dating from the 11th century BC is displayed during the exhibition AlUla: Wonder of Arabia at the l'Institut du monde arabe (IMA) in the French capital Paris on October 7, 2019. - AlUla: Wonder of Arabia is the world's first major exhibition dedicated to exploring the 7,000 years of multilayered history highlighting a pre-Islamic civilization of which very little had been known, and which today archeologists believe had been very prosperous.
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Updated 20 December 2020

Uncovering secrets hidden beneath the sands of the Arabian Peninsula

Uncovering secrets hidden beneath the sands of the Arabian Peninsula
  • New research shows the historical depth of the region, which was once home to primeval people

MAKKAH: Hidden beneath the sands of the Arabian Peninsula lie secrets dating back thousands of years that tell the story of the people of Arabia.

Ancient stone carvings and other discoveries in the peninsula show a land that once flourished with life and ancient civilizations. Like detectives, historians and archaeologists have found proof that the historical roots of the people of Arabia go back more than 120,000 years.
Dr. Salma Hawsawi, professor of ancient history at King Saud University, said in an interview with Arab News that the geographical location of the Arabian Peninsula, at the center of the ancient world — Asia, Africa, and Europe — provided ancient civilizations with an added advantage to connect East and West.
She explained that from the beginning of the first millennium BC, the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula witnessed the rise of several kingdoms and civilizations, such as Ma’in, Hadramout, Awsan, Qataban, Sheba, and Himyar. Due to their strategic locations, as trade flourished, so did the civilizations that controlled the land and sea trading routes.
The kingdoms of the north and northwest of the Arabian Peninsula such as Dadan, Lihyan, Nabatea, the Palmyrene Empire, Tayma, and Qedar flourished around the same period.
In the eastern region of the peninsula, the kingdoms of Dilmun and Magan, Gerrha and Thaj were active, while in the central region there was the Al-Magar civilization and Qaryat Al-Faw.

FASTFACTS

•The Kingdom, which occupies about a third of the Arabian Peninsula, is full of architectural and written proofs, from buildings to inscriptions and rock drawings.

• AlUla, in the northwest of the Kingdom, contains a large number of Dadanitic, Lihyan, and Thamudic inscriptions. • Scholars have found inscriptions and drawings dating back 10,000 years in AlUla and Hail.

Hawsawi pointed out that the Kingdom, which occupies about a third of the Arabian Peninsula, is full of architectural and written proof, from buildings to inscriptions and rock drawings.
She noted that rock drawings can be found in Hail, the ancient fort in Tabuk dating back to 3500 BC, Fadak’s palaces and Khaybar’s forts, the Marid Castle in Dumat Al-Jandal dating back to the first century AD and ancient cemeteries. She also mentioned statues, some still intact, dolls, bas-relief decorations and pottery. “If the above mentioned items are not enough, we have the Holy Kaaba, which is the oldest place of worship on earth.”
She said: “The Kingdom realized the importance of this cultural heritage, so it established the Ministry of Culture in 2018.”
She went on to say that the Saudi Arabia and international archaeological missions are still excavating and constantly announcing their findings, the latest of which was a joint discovery by the international and Saudi archaeological missions of human, elephant and predatory animal footprints around a dry lake in Tabuk, in the northwest of the Kingdom, dating back more than 120,000 years.

Archaeological studies have also revealed many archaeological areas within the Arabian Peninsula, for example Dumat Al-Jandal, which was mentioned in ancient biblical sources.

Dr. Marwan Shuaib

Dr. Marwan Shuaib, professor of Ancient History at King Abdul Aziz University, said: “The ancient Near East region is considered the home of mankind’s first civilizations. Western scholars have been interested in studying it for more than two centuries, since the arrival of the French under Napoleon in Egypt and the Levant (1798-1801 AD). The need to study and explore this important region increased with the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, which made it easy for scientists to decipher hieroglyphics.”
The prevailing view was that the Nile River region and Mesopotamia were the oldest civilizations known to humanity, alongside the Chinese and Indian civilizations.
“Visits from Western travelers to the Arabian Peninsula increased: Swiss traveler Johann Ludwig Burckhardt who discovered Petra in 1812, the capital of the Nabataeans in southern Jordan, and English traveler Charles Doughty who visited the Arabian Peninsula between 1908 and 1909 and discovered the famous Tayma Stone, which contains important information about the stay of the Babylonian king, Nabonidus, in Tayma for 10 years. These discoveries have drawn the attention of scholars to the ancient history of the Arabian Peninsula.”
He said: “King Abdul Aziz led the way for Western scholars to study the archeology of the Arabian Peninsula. The English traveler John Philby, also known as Abdullah Philby later on, was friends with the founding king and was allowed to tour the lands of the Arabian Peninsula, where he visited the ancient village of Faw in 1949 AD, north of Najran. He mentioned in his writings that it is an archaeological area containing many important historical proofs. The Belgian scholar Ryckmans also visited the Arabian Peninsula in 1951-1952 and copied a large number of its inscriptions. Successive exploration campaigns, drillings and excavations later took place in the archaeological areas of the Arabian Peninsula.”
“Archaeological studies have also revealed many archaeological areas within the Arabian Peninsula, for example Dumat Al-Jandal, which was mentioned in ancient biblical sources as the fortress of Dumat Bin Ismail, meaning that it dates back to the 10th century BC.”
AlUla, in the northwest of the Kingdom, contains a large number of Dadanitic, Lihyan, and Thamudic inscriptions, in addition to a large number of residences with Nabataean features.
Scholars have found inscriptions and drawings dating back 10,000 years in AlUla and Hail, specifically in Jubbah and Al- Shuwaymis, which indicates that the people of the area developed a writing system earlier than archaeologists believed. He concluded by saying that these findings show the historical depth of the region.


Overdue business rents waived by Saudi court

Overdue business rents waived by Saudi court
If a contract obliges one of the parties to carry out a task, which cannot be completed on time due to the pandemic, the court can temporarily suspend the implementation of the obligation. (SPA)
Updated 54 min 2 sec ago

Overdue business rents waived by Saudi court

Overdue business rents waived by Saudi court
  • The new regulations cover construction contracts, supply contracts, and the like, which have been affected by the pandemic

RIYADH: The General Assembly of the Saudi Supreme Court has ordered the waiving of overdue rents on businesses hit by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, and called for a review of such contracts between tenants and owners.

The steps have been taken in view of the circumstances caused by the pandemic, wherein an obligation or contract cannot be implemented without unusual losses.

The president of the Supreme Court, Khalid bin Abdullah bin Muhammad Al-Luhaidan, approved the decisions backed by 32 members of the assembly, Okaz newspaper reported.

Authorities have set conditions that have to be met before a case can be considered for review under the new regulations.

If a contract was concluded before the commencement of the preventive measures announced in the wake of the pandemic, then the impact was direct and unavoidable. If in such a case, an affected party was not compensated or did not reach a deal to mitigate the impact of the health crisis, then it qualifies for a review and the new regulations will then take effect, said legal sources.

The Supreme Court said a competent court will issue its verdict based on facts and circumstantial evidence, and may order amendments to a contract.

It also said the new provisions will be applicable to tenancy contracts and movable properties affected by the pandemic.

It clarified that if, due to the pandemic, a tenant was unable to use the leased property, in whole or in part, the court would reduce the rent as much as the usually intended benefit was reduced.

A lessor, meanwhile, does not have the right to terminate the contract if a tenant is late in paying rent for the period during which it was impossible to fully or partly use the property due to the pandemic.

HIGHLIGHT

The Supreme Court said a competent court will issue its verdict based on facts and circumstantial evidence, and may order amendments to a contract.

The new regulations also cover construction contracts, supply contracts, and the like, which have been affected by the pandemic.

If the pandemic causes an increase to the cost of materials and labor wages, etc., the court shall increase the value of the contract while ensuring the obligor can afford to bear the expense. The obligee, upon increasing the obligation, has the right to request the termination of the contract. If the increase in the cost of materials is temporary, the court reserves the right to temporarily suspend the contract.

If the pandemic causes a shortage of material in the market, the court can reduce the quantity to the extent it deems sufficient to protect the obligor from harm.

Moreover, if the shortage of materials is temporary, the court can temporarily suspend the contract if the person obligated to it is not severely affected by this suspension. If he is harmed, he may request termination of the contract. If the materials were not available at all, leading to the impossibility of implementing the contractual obligations or some of them, the court will terminate the clauses that are impossible to implement upon the request of one of the parties to the contract.

If a contract obliges one of the parties to carry out a task, which cannot be completed on time due to the pandemic, the court can temporarily suspend the implementation of the obligation. If the other party fears unusual damage due to the suspension, he may request termination of the contract.

In addition, the court also stressed the need to carefully assess the damages on a case-to-case basis, and that one or more experts should do the assessment. While assessing damages, it should be made clear what losses were incurred directly due to the pandemic and had nothing do to with seasonal upswing in certain activities.

The Supreme Court explained that a court is bound, when considering cases arising from contracts and obligations affected by the pandemic, not to apply penalty clause or fines in whole or in part — depending on the case.

In the event that a contract includes a clause of exemption from liability for one of the contracting parties when an emergency or force majeure occurs, the condition has no effect, and the party that breaches the obligation must provide evidence that the pandemic was the reason for the breach.

The affected contracts that are not covered by the provisions of this principle shall be subject to the legal and statutory litigation principles, said the court.

Commenting on the decision, Talal Albotty, the regional director of the Central Region, Salama Insurance Co., said there is a type of insurance called “suspension of operations” because of continuous epidemics, and falls under property insurance.

“This type of insurance can be found in European countries and some Asian countries but it is not applicable in Saudi Arabia,” he told Arab News. “The insurance against projects does not exist because when the project stops, insurance stops.”

Regarding the rise in prices of commodities, or the increase in prices because of pandemics and suspension of imports, a condition must be added stating that the value of property or project must increase by 10-25 percent, he added.

“Now most reinsurance companies around the world stopped offering insurance related to pandemics and contagious diseases in most countries, including COVID-19, because their impact was huge and the companies sustained huge losses,” he said.

Saudi lawyer Reem Alajmi said the resolution aims to treat and remedy the losses incurred by parties to the contract in terms of obligations.

“The parties could not fulfil their obligations because of a lack of sufficient resources or suspension of working hours during the pandemic. Fulfilling the obligation fully or partially was difficult because COVID-19 pandemic was a force majeure,” she told Arab News.

According to Alajmi, the effects or damage caused by the pandemic must not be covered by other laws. “Proving the occurrence of damage is the responsibility of the plaintiff and the defendant based on evidence submitted to the court,” she added. “The contracts and obligations are amended accordingly.”