MAKKAH: On June 9, the world celebrates International Archives Day, recognizing the importance of safely retaining and storing vast amounts of information and documentation.
The King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Research and Archives (Darah) has given archiving historical sources all of its attention, following international standards.
Darah’s general department of preservation accommodates the archiving of all forms of historical sources, including papers, photographs, films and audio clips.
Darah contains a vast number of historical paper documents related to the history of Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula, as well as Arab and Islamic history.
It also includes a sophisticated hall for manuscripts about pioneering Saudi, Arab and Islamic intellectual feats, as well as an integrated archive for historical photos and movies, creating an indispensable resource for researchers.
Through this department, Darah works on archiving voice and image recordings it has carried out to monitor the Kingdom’s “oral history,” giving researchers full access to events and experiences, complementing the other historical sources.
Moreover, it provides scholars with an opportunity to investigate social topics that are not provided by recorded history due to scientific monitoring and prior research priorities, such as the arts, agricultural procedures, crafts, travel and mobility, motherhood and childhood, health affairs and other areas that are rarely recorded by paper sources that mostly address political and military issues.
In over a quarter-century of work, Darah has collected around 7,000 oral interviews, which is an added value to scientific research, classification and archiving.
Latifa Al-Adwani, supervisor of the Taif History Center, said: “On UNESCO’s International Archives Day, we have a great opportunity to talk about the national efforts to address national, local, social and civilizational documents that are interesting for the Kingdom’s history.”
She told Arab News that Darah’s efforts in this area are attested by many institutions, including the National Center for Archives
“We know that both national institutions play an important role in preserving heritage and history,” she added. “They have created a distinct system and preserved the most important documents that interest national history in an innovative way.”
She said that Darah has regularly organized symposiums, lectures and lessons, the last of which was a seminar on private libraries and the preservation of local social documents held in Taif.
Al-Adwani added that Darah provided training sessions in preserving documents and archives, including for journalists.
It also monitors everything related to the region’s history since it is the center of the Islamic and Arab world from a political, economic, social and civilizational aspect.
“Darah is a national institution we are very proud of. It has discovered several documents found by families who inherited them from one generation to another. Darah offered them assistance to preserve them and requested a part of them — if they wished — to be sent to Darah as a reference to the national history.”
“Several institutions in the Kingdom are interested in that, such as the King Fahd National Library, which is also one of the important institutions in preserving manuscripts and documents and presenting
them to researchers, interested people and those who
specialize in the history of Saudi Arabia in its Arab and Islamic depth,” Al-Adwani concluded.