Ancient rock drawings across Saudi Arabia gain increasing attention

 A drawing featuring a carved illustration of two women in the southern Saudi city of Najran — one adorned with jewelry and ornaments, and the other dancing next to a man carrying a spear on his waist — has raised many questions. (Supplied)
A drawing featuring a carved illustration of two women in the southern Saudi city of Najran — one adorned with jewelry and ornaments, and the other dancing next to a man carrying a spear on his waist — has raised many questions. (Supplied)
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Updated 08 January 2022

Ancient rock drawings across Saudi Arabia gain increasing attention

 A drawing featuring a carved illustration of two women in the southern Saudi city of Najran — one adorned with jewelry and ornaments, and the other dancing next to a man carrying a spear on his waist — has raised many questions. (Supplied)
  • Southwest part of Kingdom contains evidence from various periods, starting from Paleolithic age until Islamic times
  • Striking image dating back more than 4,000 years is still a source of mystery

MAKKAH: Rock drawings in Saudi Arabia — long considered crucial sources for the study of ancient civilizations in the Arabian Peninsula — are gaining increasing attention as more are found in unlikely locations across the Kingdom.

The drawings represent the first pillars of writing. Their study reflects the changes and developments in the Arabian Peninsula’s history and cultures, and how ancient humans dealt with the environment.
A drawing featuring a carved illustration of two women in the southern Saudi city of Najran — one adorned with jewelry and ornaments, and the other dancing next to a man carrying a spear on his waist — has raised many questions about the location, significance and period of its creation.
Salma Hawsawi, a professor of ancient history at King Saud University, told Arab News that the most ancient rock drawings in the Arabian Peninsula date back 7,000 years and are found mostly on ancient trade routes. “The rock drawing includes inscriptions written in the Thamudic script used firstly in the eighth century B.C. and the Ancient South Arabian script used firstly in writings in the middle of the second millennium B.C. In some archaeological studies in the ninth and eighth centuries B.C. and, most recently, in the sixth century A.D.,” she said.
Hawsawi said that “the use of two types of scripts on the drawing has several meanings, one of which suggests that ancient humans’ knowledge of several scripts reflects the interaction between communities since it has been known that the Thamudic script originated in the north of the Arabian Peninsula and expanded afterward to most of its regions, noting that the diversity of literature in the region is a testimony of the civilizational progression.”
The region was one of the most important stops for trade convoys heading from the south of the Arabian Peninsula to the north and vice versa, she added.
The drawing also features a man holding three spears, two in his right hand and one in his left, a dagger on his waist, and a pendant for ornamentation purposes or with other religious significances. The spears and dagger symbolize power, or preparations to fight a battle and confront an enemy.
According to Hawsawi, the human form in the rock drawing looks like the god “Kahl” of Al-Faw village, located in the center of the Arabian Peninsula, on a trade route from the south.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Salma Hawsawi, a professor of ancient history at King Saud University, said that the picture features a drawing of two characters who seem to be two women: The first one on the left is seated next to a spear or a musical instrument that looks like the rebab, with writings carved in all directions.

• The second woman is adorned with ornaments and jewels and has her hands raised, indicating dancing and body swaying. A hairstyle is also apparent in the drawing, suggesting the woman’s role in wars.

• The drawing also features a man holding three spears, two in his right hand and one in his left, a dagger on his waist, and a pendant for ornamentation purposes or with other religious significances. The spears and dagger symbolize power, or preparations to fight a battle and confront an enemy.

“Kahl,” referred to as the “moon,” is considered the first god in the ancient religious Arab ideology. It was linked to the commercial convoys for economic purposes, with offerings, vows and votive inscriptions. Al-Faw village was a transit city for many, with an intermingling of peoples. “A religious, social, economic, and cultural exchange resulted from this intermix,” she said.
Hawsawi said that the resemblance between both forms might indicate a type of sacred ritual. The repetition of the scene in terms of details of the weapons, music instruments, and general form of the character in many rock drawings gives the impression that it is a war dance. She explained that the picture features a drawing of two characters who seem to be two women: The first one on the left is seated next to a spear or a musical instrument that looks like the rebab, with writings carved in all directions.
The second woman is adorned with ornaments and jewels and has her hands raised, indicating dancing and body swaying. A hairstyle is also apparent in the drawing, suggesting the woman’s role in wars. Overall, the artistic drawing shows the social, religious and cultural state of an ancient civilization in Saudi Arabia, with evidence of different scripts throughout the image, she added.
“Despite their different interpretations, they represent the history and civilization of human beings who lived in the southwest of the Arabian Peninsula.”
Hawsawi said that the southwest region of the Kingdom is considered one of the most ancient human settlements, with archaeological evidence from various historical periods, starting from the Paleolithic age until Islamic times.
Inscriptions and rock drawings in the region offer information on clothing, ornamentation tools, weapons, stone fireplaces, rectangular and conical constructions, and basins. Drawings also show camels, cows, ibex, geese and wild animals, such as lions and wolves. Images also feature battles with knights using spears and hunting scenes. Larger-than-life drawings of humans show some wearing headscarves, with images of men with beards and pendants around their necks.
Saleh Al-Mureeh, a historical researcher, told Arab News that Najran is rich in archaeological and historic sites, making it a unique touristic model locally, regionally and globally.
“The ruins date back 4,000 years and, therefore, it is qualified to be a touristic and archaeological shrine by excellence.”
He said that the “two women drawing” is located in Sadr Al-Nakha in the governorate of Yadma in Najran, adding that the archaeological image has been subject to study, research and controversy for years.
“Some say they are reaching for the sky, while others say that these are a celebration and war dances. It gained a lot of attention from researchers, and it is located on the highest mountain. The Antiquities and Museum Commission discovered it and was shot by a professional Mexican photographer affiliated with the antiquities commission. The picture was publicly published in around 1997,” he said.
Al-Mureeh said that Najran is the home of civilizations and cultures stretching back thousands of years.
Archaeological sites were protected and fenced to avoid damage, while media campaigns have helped to raise residents’ awareness of the importance of these treasures and the need to preserve them as part of the historical identity of the region.


Saudi National Parks Program will benefit environment, communities and tourism, organizers say

The planting of more wild trees will be carried out by staff from the center, along with workers from environmental associations and organizations. The program will be implemented in phases. (Supplied)
The planting of more wild trees will be carried out by staff from the center, along with workers from environmental associations and organizations. The program will be implemented in phases. (Supplied)
Updated 40 min 14 sec ago

Saudi National Parks Program will benefit environment, communities and tourism, organizers say

The planting of more wild trees will be carried out by staff from the center, along with workers from environmental associations and organizations. The program will be implemented in phases. (Supplied)
  • The program, launched this month, includes plans to establish 100 national parks within five years and showcase the Kingdom’s natural splendor and treasures

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia’s recently launched National Parks Program will benefit the environment and local communities, and provide a boost to sustainable tourism and by attracting local and foreign visitors, according to the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification.

The program, unveiled by the center this month, includes plans to establish and enhance 100 national parks within five years and showcase the Kingdom’s natural splendor and treasures. It also includes the planting of 50 million trees as part of the Saudi Green Initiative.
Abdul Rahman Al-Dakhil, a spokesman for the center, said that the program will help to achieve the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development and diversification project and the Saudi Green Initiative.
He added that the center will promote and develop the parks program by supporting afforestation efforts and sustainable ecotourism initiatives, while helping to protect the environment in partnership with governmental organizations.
“The program will be implemented in phases, whereby the first phase will target 100 national parks and turn them into sustainable landmarks, followed by other phases and goals,” Al-Dakhil told Arab News.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The program, unveiled by the center this month, includes plans to establish and enhance 100 national parks within five years and showcase the Kingdom’s natural splendor and treasures. It also includes the planting of 50 million trees as part of the Saudi Green Initiative.

• Some areas of land allocated for the development of national parks have special historical, cultural, geological or archaeological significance. The project includes some of the most important sites in the Kingdom, including the Edge of the World, which is located northwest of Riyadh and was formed about 180 million years ago, and the ancient Muawiyah Dam, also known as Saysad Dam.

“Achieving tourism and environmental balance is one of the most important criteria while developing any park.”
The planting of more wild trees will be be carried out by staff from the center, along with workers from environmental associations and organizations.
Some areas of land allocated for the development of national parks have special historical, cultural, geological or archaeological significance. The project includes some of the most important sites in the Kingdom, including the Edge of the World, which is located northwest of Riyadh and was formed about 180 million years ago, and the ancient Muawiyah Dam, also known as Saysad Dam.
Abdulrahman Alsoqeer, chairman of the Environmental Green Horizons Society, said that the Kingdom is experiencing an environmental renaissance, focused on preserving vegetation and expanding afforestation efforts, that is attracting global attention. The National Parks Program is part of this green renaissance, he added.
“Allocating lands for national parks is an important primary step in protecting the vast areas of government lands that are scattered and untapped, and converting them into vast vegetation reserves,” Alsoqeer told Arab News.
He said that there are a number of benefits to establishing and maintaining national parks, including the restoration of vegetation cover that has deteriorated drastically in the recent decades. It can also improve the quality of life by reducing the intensity of dust storms, improving the climate, and enhancing the visual landscape with the addition of more greenery.
In addition, a number of products can be derived from the plants cultivated in the parks, including honey provided by bees that will thrive among the wild plants.
Local communities in the vicinity of the parks will also benefit from increased employment and investment opportunities, enhanced biodiversity, the protection of endangered plant and animal species, and the enhancement of ecotourism and recreation options.


First phase to document the path of Prophet’s journey completed

Documentation of the path was mainly done by panoramic photography 360. Later, the migration of the Prophet will be digitally documented using 4K drones. (Supplied)
Documentation of the path was mainly done by panoramic photography 360. Later, the migration of the Prophet will be digitally documented using 4K drones. (Supplied)
Updated 29 min 11 sec ago

First phase to document the path of Prophet’s journey completed

Documentation of the path was mainly done by panoramic photography 360. Later, the migration of the Prophet will be digitally documented using 4K drones. (Supplied)
  • The initiative is part of the preparations to inaugurate Jabal Thawr Cultural Center in Makkah, which seeks to enrich and broaden tourists’ experience

MAKKAH: The organizers of “Rihlat Muhajir” (An Emigrant Journey) have announced that the first phase of the initiative to document the path of the Prophet’s emigration has been completed.

The work with specialists and researchers in the Prophet’s biography is part of the preparations to inaugurate the Jabal Thawr Cultural Center in Makkah, which seeks to enrich and broaden tourists’ experience. This is the aim of Samaya Investment, a company specializing in cultural projects, including national museums, exhibitions, and activities.

Samaya CEO Fawaz Al-Merhej said the “Muhajir” initiative is documenting the path of the Prophet’s emigration using modern technology in aerial documentation and panoramic photography 360.

He said that in the first phase, which was launched on Dec. 20 last year, the team sought all the locations that were cited on the path of the Prophet’s emigration, starting from Cave Thawr on Mount Thawr in Makkah, passing through 40 stations all the way to Quba Mosque in Madinah.

He said the idea of documenting the route came up when they were considering how to present the story of the Prophet’s migration in the Jabal Thawr Cultural Center.

Documentation of the path was mainly done by panoramic photography 360. During the second stage the migration of the Prophet will be digitally documented using 4K drones based on the locations’ coordinates.

The biggest challenges they faced, he said, were the bumpy roads, and the fact that some historical sites had their names changed over time.

A number of scholars specialized in Islamic history and the Prophet’s biography helped in this investigation, including Professor Mohammed bin Samil Al-Salami and Professor Saad bin Musa Al-Musa, of the Department of History and Islamic Civilization at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah, and Professor Sulaiman bin Abdullah Al-Suwaiket and Professor Abdul Aziz bin Ibrahim Al-Omari, of the Department of History and Civilization at Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, who are also members of the scientific committee of the Atlas Biography of the Prophet. Professor Abdullah bin Mustafa Al-Shanqiti, specialized in the landmarks of Madinah and the Prophet’s Biography, also participated in some stages of the project.

 


Diriyah’s historic At-Turaif ‘a new lifestyle destination’ in Saudi Arabia

Dalya Mousa  shed light on the culture, history and heritage of At-Turaif and revealed that six museums and an art district are being developed as key cultural sites in the district. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)
Dalya Mousa shed light on the culture, history and heritage of At-Turaif and revealed that six museums and an art district are being developed as key cultural sites in the district. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)
Updated 58 min 55 sec ago

Diriyah’s historic At-Turaif ‘a new lifestyle destination’ in Saudi Arabia

Dalya Mousa  shed light on the culture, history and heritage of At-Turaif and revealed that six museums and an art district are being developed as key cultural sites in the district. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)
  • The historic district will offer world-class education to nurture the future cultural leaders of the Kingdom, including the opening of King Salman University, six academies and new public schools

RIYADH: A two-day Diriyah art forum is building links between Saudi cultural authorities as part of a broader plan to make the At-Turaif district a lifestyle and culture destination.
The Diriyah Gate Development Authority, the body overseeing the development of the historic site, is taking part in the event.
Dalya Mousa, DGDA director of culture, spoke about new projects and developments set to take place in Diriyah, including At-Turaif district, the first capital of Saudi Arabia and an important political and historical site.
Speaking on the importance of At-Turaif — one of six heritage sites recognized by UNESCO in the Kingdom — Mousa told Arab News: “When we are talking about At-Turaif, we are talking about the first Saudi capital in the 18th century.

Dalya Mousa  shed light on the culture, history and heritage of At-Turaif and revealed that six museums and an art district are being developed as key cultural sites in the district. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

“We are talking about the foundation of the Kingdom, with really diverse cultural landscapes and architecture that goes back 300 years. We aim to show the world how people used to live here and we will include museums, galleries and ancient palaces in the plans.”
The director also shed light on the culture, history and heritage of At-Turaif and revealed that six museums and an art district are being developed as key cultural sites in the district.

Culture plays a vital role in our lives. It reflects our identity and shapes our future. Our mission is to create a best in class culture platform that connects Diriyah’s past with its present and future.

Dalya Mousa, DGDA director of culture

Mousa said: “Culture plays a vital role in our lives. It reflects our identity and shapes our future. Our mission is to create a best in class culture platform that connects Diriyah’s past with its present and future.
“When we talk about art and culture, it includes visual art, performances, commissions, collections, traditional arts and crafts, multimedia urban intervention and more,” she added.
“At-Turaif will have cultural museums, cultural academies, a cultural district and most importantly, art commissions across the master plan. We’re talking about digital libraries and archives, in-house expertise, capacity building, traditional arts and craft schools, and more.”
The historic district will also offer world-class education to nurture the future cultural leaders of the Kingdom, including the opening of King Salman University, six academies and new public schools.
Diriyah will also contain boutique hotels and resorts as part of its strategy to become a premium lifestyle destination where visitors can shop and dine in the presence of unique cultural history.
Mousa said that “working with and for the local community” will strengthen Diriyah’s creative ecosystem across cultural sectors in alignment with the Ministry of Culture’s plan to celebrate the town nationally, regionally and globally.
Launching Diriyah as the culture capital of the Middle East 2030, the Diriyah Gate Development Authority partnered with the Ministry of Culture and Diriyah Biennale Foundation on a series of multidisciplinary cultural programs to achieve that goal.


Saudi aid agency rolling out relief projects worldwide

KSrelief rolling out aid projects worldwide. (SPA)
KSrelief rolling out aid projects worldwide. (SPA)
Updated 13 min 54 sec ago

Saudi aid agency rolling out relief projects worldwide

KSrelief rolling out aid projects worldwide. (SPA)

AMMAN: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center has rolled out aid projects in numerous countries.

Winter supplies, including 8,840 blankets and 4,420 winter family packs, were distributed in the governorates of Amman, Balqa, Karak, Tafileh, and Mafraq to needy Jordanian families and Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Jordan.

This aid is part of a project implemented by the Kingdom to alleviate the suffering of disadvantaged families during winter and meet their basic needs.

Meanwhile, the prosthetic limbs and physical rehabilitation center in Seiyun, Yemen, has continued to provide medical services for Yemenis through the support of KSrelief.

FASTFACT

Since its inception in May 2015, the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center has implemented 1,814 projects worth more than $5.5 billion in 77 countries.

The center provided 1,433 services for 432 beneficiaries in one month, including the manufacturing, fitting and maintenance of prosthetic limbs for 169 patients, covering delivery, measurement and maintenance services.

It provided other treatments for 263 patients, including physical therapy and consultation sessions.

It comes as part of the Kingdom’s efforts, represented by KSrelief, to improve the capacities of the health sector in Yemen.

In Afghanistan, KSrelief is distributing food and providing shelter to needy families as part of the Saudi relief airlift to support the Afghan people. It distributed nearly 19 tons of aid, which included 300 food baskets, 600 flour bags and 250 blankets in the Qala-e-Fathullah district of Kabul, helping 300 families.

The center has continued to distribute aid to those affected by the floods and to the neediest families in Sudan. It distributed more than 12 tons of food baskets in the Omdurman locality, benefiting 2,100 people.

Worldwide, KSrelief has implemented 1,814 projects worth more than $5.5 billion in 77 countries, carried out in cooperation with 144 local, regional and international partners since the inception of the center in May 2015.

According to a recent KSrelief report, the countries and territories that benefited the most from the center’s various projects were Yemen, Palestine, with projects worth $368 million, Syria ($322 million) and Somalia ($209 million).


Saudi royal reserve to plant 400k seedings

The reserve is also working to keep up with the latest international technologies and innovations linked to irrigation and seed disposal processes. (SPA)
The reserve is also working to keep up with the latest international technologies and innovations linked to irrigation and seed disposal processes. (SPA)
Updated 17 sec ago

Saudi royal reserve to plant 400k seedings

The reserve is also working to keep up with the latest international technologies and innovations linked to irrigation and seed disposal processes. (SPA)
  • The center is working to preserve natural reserves, contain desertification and restore biodiversity in natural environments

RIYADH: The National Center for Vegetation and Combating Desertification has signed a two-year contract with one of the national afforestation companies in the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Reserve to plant 400,000 local tree seedlings.
The project, which also includes irrigation works, is part of the MoU signed with the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Reserve Development Authority to develop vegetation cover in the reserve.
Dr. Khaled Al-Abdulqader, CEO of the center, signed the deal as a part of broader plans to increase green spaces across the Kingdom.
The center is working to preserve natural reserves, contain desertification and restore biodiversity in natural environments, and improve quality of life in line with the objectives of the Saudi Green Initiative.
The Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Reserve also announced controls on grazing, entry, hunting and woodcutting from Feb. 1. The reserve is also working to keep up with the latest international technologies and innovations linked to irrigation and seed disposal processes while working to adopt factors that serve the environment and guarantee sustainability in plant cultivation and afforestation techniques.