At-Turaif: A look into the jewel of the Kingdom’s museums

At-Turaif in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh is home to the largest open-air museum in the world. (Abdullah AlJabr/Faisal AlDakheel)
At-Turaif in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh is home to the largest open-air museum in the world. (Abdullah AlJabr/Faisal AlDakheel)
Short Url
Updated 23 September 2021

At-Turaif: A look into the jewel of the Kingdom’s museums

At-Turaif in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh is home to the largest open-air museum in the world. (Abdullah AlJabr/Faisal AlDakheel)
  • Arab News visited five galleries in the district that take visitors back in time through the birth of the Kingdom

RIYADH: At-Turaif is home to the largest open-air museum in the world. Arab News visited five galleries in the district that take visitors back in time through the birth of the Kingdom, detailing every important aspect, including lifestyle, trade, territory disputes and architecture of the Saudi states.

1 - Diriyah Museum:

Diriyah Museum is known for taking individuals step by step into a sequence of historical events dating back to the formation of the Saudi states.

The museum begins in A.D. 400, displaying maps and documents pertaining to the Banu Hanifah tribe migration from the west Arabian Peninsula to the center of Al-Yamama.

It explains how Diriyah was established in 1446 when Manaa’ Al-Muraide shared the region’s leadership with his cousin Ibn Dera’.




The Diriyah Museum holds replicas of some of the most important documents that contributed to the growth of the first and second Saudi states. (Abdullah AlJabr)  

On display are swords, coins, stamps and copies of important documents that contributed to the growth of the first and second Saudi states.




Housed in the Diriyah Museum is a replica of the Al-Ajrab Sword owned by the founder of the second Saudi state, Imam Turki ibn Abdullah. (Faisal AlDakheel) 

The museum also showcases the progression of the Al-Saud royal family tree throughout each century. A digital and interactive activity allows visitors and their families to swipe through the royal tree and learn about unity, stability and the reform of the region dating back to the establishment of the first Saudi state by Imam Mohammed ibn Saud in 1744.

The tree explains the royal lineage, further detailing Imam Turki ibn Abdullah’s eviction of the Ottoman garrisons from Najd, the founding of the second Saudi state and the return of King Abdulaziz ibn Abdulrahman Al-Faisal to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.




The Al-Saud family tree can be seen in the Diriyah Museum detailing the names of the sons, daughters, and grandchildren of King Abdulaziz. (Supplied)

One of the most prominent features of the museum is a replica of the Al-Ajrab Sword owned by the founder of the second Saudi state, Imam Turki ibn Abdullah. The sword is named after the rusting on the edges of the blade.

2 - The Arabian Horse Museum:

The Arabian Horse Museum gives an in-depth look into the vital roles horses played in the Kingdom’s unification in 1932, including in warfare, trade and transportation.

The museum houses many replicas of important documents that detail the names of thousands of horses owned by the Al-Saud family at that time.




The Arabian Horse Museum displays replicas of the different types of saddles, clothing, and important documents relating to the  Kingdom’s unification in 1932. (Abdullah AlJabr)

The nobleman and sheiks of the era divided their horses into five categories:

Kehilan- Named for the black rings around its eyes resembling (Kohl) eyeliner.

Al-Hamdani- Named by its owners to distinguish it from the Kehilan horse.

Al-Saqlawi- Named for its glossy coat, the horse is known for its long neck and sparkling eyes.

Abayan- According to a legend, the rider’s coat, an abaya, slipped down to the horse’s tail during the race. Throughout the race the horse’s tail was raised, preventing the cloak from falling.

Hadban- One of the strongest and fastest horses, its name means “long forelock” (the top of the horse’s mane).




The Arabian Horse Museum also houses a life size bronze sculpture of a horse named Tarfah, a beloved horse King Abdulaziz gifted to King George VI of England. (Abdullah AlJabr)

Within the museum is a life-size bronze sculpture of Tarfah, King Abdulaziz’s horse which he gifted to King George VI of the United Kingdom.

The museum shows how domestication and taming of the horses was used as a vital part of eventual transportation and battle. On display are replicas of different types of saddles and clothing, based on the individual’s social status or occasion, such as weddings.

Copies of detailed travel documents for the horses are on display, including horses visas and passports in French and English.

The museum reflects how connected Saudi rulers were to their horses, treating them as loyal companions rather than just animals.

3 - Museum of Traditional Architecture:

The museum focuses on the first Saudi state’s architectural development and the present-day role of preserving the local UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The museum displays replicas of the buildings and techniques used to build structures, from foundations, plastering to decoration.

Visitors can read about the construction process of the walls of Saad Palace. The interior walls were usually 40 centimeters to 60 centimeters thick and the exterior walls were 120 centimeters thick. Once the walls reached the ceiling height, then doorways, stairways and ceilings began to be built.




The Museum of Traditional Architecture  takes visitors step by step into the construction process of the walls of Saad Palace.  (Abdullah AlJabr)  

This is where visitors can notice the building detailing, such as entryways that were equipped with small sight holes for surveillance, or crenelations to provide aim and shelter during battle.

On display are audio-visuals displays and images that show the original process of creating each of the mud bricks and mud layers to form the foundation of the structures.

The museum also has many interactive features and games that allow visitors to test their knowledge in creating a traditional Najdi door. Once the doors are created, they are projected on a large screen to be displayed.

4 - Military Museum:

Diriyah was home to one of the largest firearms markets in the region. The military museum displays authentic replicas of all the weapons used during the second and the first Saudi state, including arrows, guns, cannons and ships.

It also shows foreign armors and shields, and the different types of ships that carried weapons cargoes at the time, including British and Saudi war ships.

Some of the rifle models on display include muzzle-loading muskets, breech-loading single-shot rifles, chassepots, Mausers and Martini-Henry rifles.




The military museum is home to replicas of all the weapons used during the second and the first Saudi state. (Supplied)

The museum also details the Battle of Diriyah, in which Ibrahim Pasha and the Ottoman army reached the city in 1818.

It also displays the Diriyah fortifications which were overseen by Imam Abdullah ibn Saud.

5 - Lifestyle Museum:

Village homes were simple and linked to the local environment. The Lifestyle Museum is a walk-through gallery that displays courtyards, bedrooms, kitchens, majlis and guest rooms in At-Turaif.

The Lifestyle Museum begins with the majlis, which feature motion sensors that cue audio of men socializing, tea being poured and items being cooked over a traditional fire oven.

Then visitors will see a traditional kitchen with a digital gallery of recipes used at the time.

The bedrooms in the homes were austere, but the detailing on fixtures indicated a resident’s status or wealth.

To avoid the heat, families would often sleep on the cool open roof and retreat to their bedrooms after sunrise, depending on the season.

The museum ends in the children’s room, where simple toys made of wood and straw are spread across the ground, while audio of children laughing and singing plays over the speakers.

The Lifestyle Museum perfectly captures the living style at the time in At-Turaif. It allows visitors to place themselves in the shoes of those before them, gaining a better understanding of how the Kingdom was born.

Diriyah, past, present and future
On Saudi Arabia’s 91st National Day, the birthplace of the Kingdom continues to make history

Enter


keywords

Al-Murabba welcomes visitors with music, food and more for Riyadh Season

Al-Murabba welcomes visitors with music, food and more for Riyadh Season
Updated 14 sec ago

Al-Murabba welcomes visitors with music, food and more for Riyadh Season

Al-Murabba welcomes visitors with music, food and more for Riyadh Season
  • The zone offers a luxurious experience, reflecting the great diversity of culinary cultures around the world with a range of famous international eateries — Italian, Japanese, Argentinian, French and others
  • Other areas in the zone boast sweet shops — like that of Pierre Hermé, famous French pastry chef — light-strewn night gardens, concept stores, art shops and traditional clothing stores

RIYADH: Al-Murabba, one of Riyadh Season’s 14 zones, is welcoming visitors this week as part of the city’s festivities.

Visitors are offered a taste of authentic Saudi hospitality as they are greeted with Arabic coffee, incense, and music at the main entrance.

The zone offers a luxurious experience, reflecting the great diversity of culinary cultures around the world with a range of famous international eateries — Italian, Japanese, Argentinian, French and others. Reservation can be made through The Chefz application.

In addition to gastronomic experiences, visitors can enjoy a host of musical and artistic performances.

Musician Re’aab Bukhari told Arab News that he plays Saudi music for famous local singers at the zone.

“I’m here with my crew to participate for Riyadh Season in Al-Murabba zone. I came to the first Riyadh Season a couple of years ago, and the level of organization I’ve witnessed is beyond professional,” he said.

Other areas in the zone boast sweet shops — like that of Pierre Hermé, famous French pastry chef — light-strewn night gardens, concept stores, art shops and traditional clothing stores featuring the work of local designers.

Visitors eager to taste Japanese cuisine can book at restaurant Bar Masa, featuring authentic creations by Chef Masa Takayama, known for his three-star Michelin restaurant in Manhattan, New York City.

Charming Parisian-style restaurant Oplaisir welcomes its diners with music and a menu rich with unique dishes. The Petit Trois, another famous, award-winning French restaurant, is also available in Al-Murabba.

Dareen Rajeh, a senior specialist at Takamol Holding who came to Al-Murabba for the festivities, shared with Arab News her feelings on Riyadh Season.

“Part of me can’t believe it, and the other part is grateful because we never expected to return to normal so quickly, especially as everything we used to read would say that life will never go back to normal. But, in a record time, we are back,” she said.

Having experienced Riyadh Season in the past, Rajeh was excited to relive the festival again.

“I’m also excited to visit Winter Wonderland this year, as the winter is almost near. I definitely want to experience the Crystal Maze as well,” she added.


Saudi Arabia summons Lebanese envoy over ‘offensive’ comments made by information minister

Saudi Arabia summons Lebanese envoy over ‘offensive’ comments made by information minister
Updated 31 sec ago

Saudi Arabia summons Lebanese envoy over ‘offensive’ comments made by information minister

Saudi Arabia summons Lebanese envoy over ‘offensive’ comments made by information minister
  • The ministry said the statements showed a clear bias toward the Houthis who threaten regional stability
  • The foreign ministry expressed its disappointment at comments made by Lebanon's information minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia summoned the Lebanese ambassador to the Kingdom on Wednesday over “offensive” comments made by Lebanon’s information minister.

The foreign ministry expressed its disappointment at comments made by Lebanon's Information Minister George Kordahi regarding the Arab coalition in Yemen.

It said it was disappointed by the “insults contained in those statements directed at the Kingdom and countries part of the Arab coalition.”

The ministry said that the statements showed a clear bias toward the Houthis who threaten security and stability in the region.

The “statements contradict the simplest political norms and are inconsistent with the historic relations between the two brotherly peoples,” the ministry added.

Kordahi sparked controversy on Tuesday when a video of him referring to the Houthis as defending themselves emerged online. He also called the war in Yemen “futile.”

The comments were made before he took up his current position.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said the interview was recorded more than a month before his cabinet was formed and reflected a personal opinion that had nothing to do with government.

The Houthis continue to target civilians and civilian infrastructure in the Kingdom and Yemen almost daily.

The Gulf Cooperation Council and Kuwait also condemned the comments. 


Saudi space sector takes another giant leap with membership of global body

Saudi space sector takes another giant leap with membership of global body
Updated 27 October 2021

Saudi space sector takes another giant leap with membership of global body

Saudi space sector takes another giant leap with membership of global body
  • The Saudi Space Commission has joined the International Astronautical Federation ‘to enhance the Kingdom’s stature globally’ in the sector

JEDDAH: In a move that experts said will help to further advance the space sector in the Kingdom, the Saudi Space Commission has joined the International Astronautical Federation.

The federation, a leading space organization founded in 1951 to promote discussions between scientists worldwide and encourage cooperation in space, announced the Saudi membership on Monday.

Mohammed Al-Tamimi, CEO of the commission, said that the space industry is one of the sectors targeted for development by Vision 2030 with the aim of the Kingdom becoming a world leader in the field. He added that the commission is working to enhance the sector through the scientific and professional development of the skills required in the field, and by providing the necessary support to promote research and development in space technologies.

“We are pleased today to join the International Space Federation to enhance the Kingdom’s stature globally and to consolidate its leading role in the development of the space economy internationally,” Al-Tamimi said.

FASTFACTS

• The announcement comes as part of the efforts to enhance the Kingdom’s role in the space sector in the region and internationally, and to stimulate growth and inspire future generations, authorities said.

• They added that membership of the federation represents a new chapter for cooperation with the international community to establish and develop principles and frameworks that will enhance international laws and maximize the benefits obtained from the space sector and its technologies.

The announcement comes as part of the efforts to enhance the Kingdom’s role in the space sector in the region and internationally, and to stimulate growth and inspire future generations, authorities said. They added that membership of the federation represents a new chapter for cooperation with the international community to establish and develop principles and frameworks that will enhance international laws and maximize the benefits obtained from the space sector and its technologies.

The Saudi Space Commission was established by royal decree in late 2018 to stimulate space-related research and industrial activities. In 2020, Prince Sultan bin Salman, the first Saudi, Arab and Muslim astronaut, said the Kingdom was planning an SR8 billion ($2.1 billion) investment in the nation’s space program as part of Vision 2030.

“In the time we live now, space is becoming a fundamental sector of the global economy, touching every aspect of our lives on Earth,” he said. “Space business and the space economy are expected to grow into the trillions of riyals as we go forward.

“We believe there are a lot of opportunities that exist in the space sector and we, in Saudi Arabia, intend to tap these opportunities at all levels.”

The Kingdom aspires to being a leading global player in the space industry while advancing the prospects for future generations, the prince added.


Saudi Arabia’s Ithra to launch fourth Tanween creativity season

Saudi Arabia’s Ithra to launch fourth Tanween creativity season
Updated 27 October 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Ithra to launch fourth Tanween creativity season

Saudi Arabia’s Ithra to launch fourth Tanween creativity season
  • Tanween 2021 empowers the creative industries through exploring the innovative use of tools

JEDDAH: The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, known as Ithra, will launch the fourth Tanween creativity season with a plethora of cultural events for curious minds.

Held under the theme “Tools: Crafting Creativity,” the event features high-profile speakers and a series of targeted workshops and masterclasses until Nov. 13, and is designed to celebrate, explore and inspire the creative process. 

Underscoring Ithra’s goal of supporting and developing the region’s creative industries, a key highlight will be the unveiling of one of the most comprehensive studies mapping the cultural and creative landscape of the Middle East and North Africa, including rare insights into the Saudi cultural pulse.

“Since its inception, Ithra has positively disrupted the scene in culture, art, knowledge, creativity and community. Through the annual creativity season, Tanween, a cultural catalyst and global gateway, Ithra has succeeded in creating an unprecedented ecosystem that embodies its five pillars, while offering unique experiences to the public and to creative professionals,” said Ashraf Fagih, head of programs at Ithra.

Miznah Alzamil, head of innovation and creativity at Ithra, explained that like previous editions, titled “Disruption,” “Play,” and “The New Next,” this edition of Tanween will explore an aspect of the creative process and tap into how cultural and creative industries continue to innovate and steer the future of the creative economy — highlighting the tools at their disposal. 

“Tanween 2021 empowers the creative industries through exploring the innovative use of tools and identifying new opportunities presented by adopting and developing new toolsets,” she said. 

“From the first stone hammer to modern-day technology, tools enable our creativity to shape our world. From hand and head tools to digital and physical tools, and abstract and real toolsets, Tanween 2021 explores the role tools have in our creative process and industries, and shaping our creativity for the future.”

From its launch in 2018, Tanween has connected change-making creatives and innovators with global subject matter experts in an inspiration-fueled environment to nurture creative potential, share ideas and redefine what creativity means in a changing world. It offers a platform for them to connect with curious learners, aspiring creatives, and professionals to unlock creative potential across all levels and industries.  

This year’s headline speakers include former Adidas Senior Design Director Chris Law, founding director of the Khatt Foundation Dr. Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFares, international contemporary artist and researcher Sougwen Chung, and Arthur Mamou-Mani, founder of the award-winning Mamou-Mani Architecture practice.


Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts

Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts
Updated 27 October 2021

Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts

Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts
  • The new body will provide an umbrella organization for performers while promoting new talent and expertise

JEDDAH: The curtain is set to rise on a new era for Saudi performing arts with the establishment of a dedicated theater association.

As part of the Kingdom’s cultural transformation, the new body will provide an umbrella organization for performers while also attracting and promoting new talent and expertise.

Saudi Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmed Al-Rajhi said the association would bring together professionals from the worlds of theater, folk arts, circus, stand-up comedy, and dance.

Headed by Saudi actor Nasser Al-Qasabi, the association’s board of directors will include academic researcher Sami Al-Jamaan, actors Rashid Al-Shamrani, Sami Al-Zahrani, and Fatima Al-Banawi, director Khaled Al-Baz, actor and playwright Yasser Madkhali, writer Fahd Al-Hoshani, kinetic arts performer Roaa Al-Sahhaf, comedian Yasser Bakr, and Saudi ballerina Samira Alkhamis.

Performing arts has been a part of human culture down the ages and was even used as a way to inform people about the negative impact of social practices.

However, although well-represented in the West, only recently have theatrical shows and their performers been supported in the Kingdom by official bodies such as the Ministry of Culture’s Theater and Performing Arts Commission, set up under the National Strategy for Culture framework. 

In a tweet, association president, Al-Qasabi said: “I am honored to work with my colleagues in the new association to overcome difficulties and advance this lofty profession. In a few months, the work of the association will be launched, and we look forward to your participation in a new creative journey.”

Performing arts are considered to have benefits on a personal, social, and community level, with live theater helping to encourage social dialogue, highlight issues, and provide an outlet for society to find solutions to problems.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Ministry of Culture has been behind a number of significant initiatives and organizational developments that have taken place in the Saudi theater sector this year.

• These have included the establishment of the National Theater, and subsequently the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, and partnership projects with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development to improve professionalism in the sector.

Mohammed Al-Subaih, director of the Jeddah-based Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts, described the establishment of the new association as “a most welcome move” that would offer a strong voice for performers in Saudi Arabia.

He told Arab News: “It will definitely contribute to the work of actors and performers and also bring up the level of work of Saudi theater.”

Saudi actor Abdullah Al-Sinani said: “(The association is) a wonderful step that reinforces our permanent ambition toward the status of Saudi theatrical superlatives. I wish the association and its members success in enriching the local theatrical movement.”

In a tweet, Wael Al-Harbi said: “I was honored to be chosen as a founding member of the first association for theater and performing arts.”

And Sultan Al-Bazie, chief executive officer of the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, said: “We expect the association to be an active element in the development of the sector.”

The Ministry of Culture has been behind a number of significant initiatives and organizational developments that have taken place in the Saudi theater sector this year.

These have included the establishment of the National Theater, and subsequently the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, and partnership projects with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development to improve professionalism in the sector.

In 2016, the General Entertainment Authority was formed, followed by the Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission last year. The current registration of the Cinema Society will represent the first specialized civil body of its kind in the Kingdom concerned with the film industry.