In many parts of the world, heritage and culture are considered key elements of a nation’s identity. The traditions of our ancestors that have been passed on to us reflect how they saw the world. Their ideas may be different or similar to today’s culture. Nonetheless, what we carry with us from generation to generation defines who we are and our worldview. It gives us an understanding of our history, to confidently pave the way to our future.
In Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Culture focuses on holding different festivities and establishing museums, as a means to share our heritage with the new generation, and to celebrate our history. This has been done while also focusing on sharing our story with the rest of the world.
Saudi Arabia has several historical landmarks providing various narratives of our past, including Jeddah’s Al-Balad district, that provides some information about the pre-Islamic era. Another example is Hegra, located in AlUla, which in 2008 was the first area in Saudi Arabia to be inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Its unique architecture never fails to amaze people.
Diving deeper into AlUla, we see how Saudi Arabia’s culture has drawn inspiration from the Arabian leopard, as a symbol of fortitude and grace. It has been classified as critically endangered since 1996, but the Kingdom has made significant strides in setting up a conservation program to save the animal from extinction.
A potent example of how Saudi Arabia is marrying its culture with its future development is NEOM, a landmark project that incorporates the best technology and innovation that the world has to offer.
Saudi Arabia has much to offer in terms of its natural beauty and ancient history and there are, commendably, much effort and resources being allocated to ensure our tourist sites can be enjoyed by visitors from across the world.
The Kingdom’s geographical diversity has seen differing expressions of faith and traditions but this is much like the unique personalities of every individual that makes up a family. It is our values that unite us.
Arabic is of great significance in our culture because it is through this language, as expressed in the holy Qur’an, that we have learned hospitality and kindness. Arabic is also the language of our tradition of oral poetry, which is such an important part of our culture. We are indebted to the organizations including the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Dhahran and the Misk Art Institute in Riyadh, for protecting this heritage.
Our past is critical because it holds valuable lessons that strengthen us no matter what happens in the world. We will therefore be much better equipped to handle future challenges.
What we can look forward to now are events such as Expo 2030, which hopefully the Kingdom will host. It is an exciting prospect and could be another opportunity for Saudi Arabia to showcase its rich culture and heritage.
- Ritaj Hussain Al-Hazmi is a young writer and holds a Guinness World Record. She believes in helping the new generation reach their full potential.