Historic Jeddah Program unveils hidden gems of Al-Balad

The Historic Jeddah Program, in collaboration with the Heritage Commission, ensures that archaeological resources are documented, registered, and preserved. (AN photo by Hashim Nadeem)
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The Historic Jeddah Program, in collaboration with the Heritage Commission, ensures that archaeological resources are documented, registered, and preserved. (AN photo by Hashim Nadeem)
Historic Jeddah Program unveils hidden gems of Al-Balad
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The Historic Jeddah Program, in collaboration with the Heritage Commission, ensures that archaeological resources are documented, registered, and preserved. (SPA)
Historic Jeddah Program unveils hidden gems of Al-Balad
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The Historic Jeddah Program, in collaboration with the Heritage Commission, ensures that archaeological resources are documented, registered, and preserved. (AN photo by Hashim Nadeem)
Historic Jeddah Program unveils hidden gems of Al-Balad
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The Historic Jeddah Program, in collaboration with the Heritage Commission, ensures that archaeological resources are documented, registered, and preserved. (AN photo by Hashim Nadeem)
Historic Jeddah Program unveils hidden gems of Al-Balad
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Dr. Laurence Hapiot, director of the archaeology department of the Historic Jeddah Program. (AN photo by Hashim Nadeem)
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Updated 05 February 2024
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Historic Jeddah Program unveils hidden gems of Al-Balad

Historic Jeddah Program unveils hidden gems of Al-Balad
  • Dania Baeisa, senior project engineer, told Arab News: “The discoveries that we found here in the Al-Shuna site were fragments of artifacts that tell a story about this site and how it was a center of global trade

JEDDAH: The Historic Jeddah Program, in collaboration with the Heritage Commission, has made a groundbreaking announcement about the discovery of about 25,000 remnants of artifacts at four historic sites.

The artifacts, dating back to the first and second centuries of the Hijri calendar, shed light on the rich history of Jeddah and its significance in the broader context of trade, architecture, and cultural exchange.

This announcement comes as part of the archaeological project overseen by the Historic Jeddah Program, which includes sites such as the Uthman bin Affan Mosque, the Al-Shuna site, parts of the eastern trench, and the northern wall.

The Uthman bin Affan Mosque, which is considered one of the oldest in Jeddah, has unveiled artifacts dating back to the ninth to 10th centuries.

Otto Bagi, senior project manager at the mosque, explained that the site’s significance was affirmed by the misalignment with the Kaaba and the discovery of an octagonal pillar dating back to the 19th century. These findings strengthen the belief in the mosque’s importance.




The Historic Jeddah Program, in collaboration with the Heritage Commission, ensures that archaeological resources are documented, registered, and preserved. (SPA)

Bagi told Arab News about the secrets behind the Uthman bin Affan Mosque.

He said: “Why do we assert that this mosque may indeed be one of the oldest, if not the oldest, in existence? According to local tradition, it is considered one of the oldest, if not the oldest.

“We began our work here three years ago, and we have some indications that this local tradition might actually be true. There is archaeological evidence supporting the claim that this mosque dates back to the ninth to 10th centuries at the moment.




The Historic Jeddah Program, in collaboration with the Heritage Commission, ensures that archaeological resources are documented, registered, and preserved. (SPA)

“Beyond the initial reason I mentioned, which is the misalignment of the mosque with the Kaaba, there is another significant factor to consider. A pillar was discovered in the central layer dating back to the 19th century during excavation. As we delved deeper, reaching the foundational layers, we unearthed a peculiar discovery — the pillar’s base was not round but octagonal in shape. Further excavation revealed the octagonal base of the pillar, located approximately three to four meters below the surface. This evidence, coupled with additional findings, solidifies our belief in the historical significance of the mosque.”

Dania Baeisa, senior project engineer, told Arab News: “The discoveries that we found here in the Al-Shuna site were fragments of artifacts that tell a story about this site and how it was a center of global trade. The area of Al-Shuna is approximately 5,000 square meters.”

The announcement comes in light of the project’s efforts to revive Historic Jeddah, launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which aims to preserve national monuments, highlight historically significant sites, enhance the historic importance of Jeddah as a cultural center, and achieve the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 in preserving archaeological sites.




Dr. Laurence Hapiot, director of the archaeology department of the Historic Jeddah Program. (AN photo by Hashim Nadeem)

The Al-Shuna site, with a history reaching back to the 13th century, offers a unique glimpse into Jeddah’s past.

Dr. Laurence Hapiot, director of the archaeology department at the Historic Jeddah Program, spoke of the preservation of ancient remains amid the modern city. She said the site, with four meters of elevation, had revealed pottery, animal bones, shells, and even cannonballs, reflecting its diverse historical functions.

Regarding Al-Shuna, Hapiot told Arab News: “What you see here is the back of the tower and one entrance that we revealed by removing some modern concrete shops that were here. It’s amazing because despite the vibrant life in Jeddah and centuries of development, this area was preserved, with modern shops built all around, preserving these ancient historical remains. So, this is a very significant site, displaying four meters of elevation in the heart of a city that is so active.”




The Historic Jeddah Program, in collaboration with the Heritage Commission, ensures that archaeological resources are documented, registered, and preserved. (SPA)

Hapiot added: “On this site we discovered a lot of materials, primarily pottery chairs, but also some animal bones, shells, fragments of metal or glass, and various small finds. Interestingly, we also found cannonballs made of metal and one made of stone.

“It is exceptionally rare to find a building site with elevations in the heart of the city.”

The survey and excavation work, which was initiated in November 2020, has led to the discovery of over 11,000 ceramic artifacts, animal bone artifacts, shell materials, construction materials, and glass and metal artifacts. The total findings, weighing 531 kg, make a significant contribution to national archaeological discoveries.




Otto Bagi, senior project manager of Uthman bin Affan Mosque. (AN photo by Hashim Nadeem)

Studies at the Uthman bin Affan Mosque revealed artifacts dating back to the first and second centuries of the Hijri calendar. The archaeological studies of ebony pieces highlight trade connections extending to Jeddah, including materials from Sri Lanka and porcelain from Jiangxi Province, China.

The Al-Shuna archaeological site traces its architectural remains back to at least the 13th century, with evidence dating back to the 10th century. Pottery materials from Europe, Japan, and China were discovered, providing insights into the trade connections of Jeddah during the 13th and 14th centuries.

Historic cemeteries in Jeddah have revealed tombstones made of limestone, granite, and marble, with inscriptions dating back to the second and third centuries of the Hijri calendar. These inscriptions, which include names, Qur’anic expressions, and verses, are currently undergoing further studies for accurate classification.




The Historic Jeddah Program, in collaboration with the Heritage Commission, ensures that archaeological resources are documented, registered, and preserved. (SPA)

During excavation works at the Al-Kidwa site (Bab Makkah), parts of the eastern trench were revealed, which likely dates back to the late 12th century of the Hijri calendar (late 18th century).

The archaeological studies of the four historic sites included excavations, analysis of radioactive carbon samples, soil analysis and geophysical and scientific studies of the discovered materials. More than 250 wooden samples from 52 archaeological buildings were transported to specialized international laboratories for identification and age determination.

They will also undergo further research in international archives that have collected more than 984 historical documents about Jeddah, including maps and drawings of historic Jeddah walls, Al-Shouna and other archaeological sites in Jeddah, which were scientifically reviewed and studied.

The Historic Jeddah Program, in collaboration with the Heritage Commission, ensures the documentation, registration, and preservation of archaeological materials. The National Antiquities Register and a scientific database safeguard these historic treasures, with documents and photos archived by specialized Saudi teams.

 


MoU signed to revive cultural sites in Kingdom

MoU signed to revive cultural sites in Kingdom
Updated 7 sec ago
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MoU signed to revive cultural sites in Kingdom

MoU signed to revive cultural sites in Kingdom

RIYADH: The Heritage Commission and ASFAR, Saudi Arabia’s tourism investment company fully owned by the Public Investment Fund, signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance visitor experience at cultural heritage sites in the Kingdom.

Heritage Commission CEO Jasser Al-Harbash and ASFAR CEO Fahad bin Mushayt attended the signing, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

The agreement aims to improve operational efficiency, enhance cooperation, develop plans, refine designs, and establish operational models for heritage sites across Saudi Arabia.

The commission highlighted the importance of partnerships in its commitment to developing the national heritage and archaeology sector, aligning with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.

ASFAR plays a crucial role in shaping the Kingdom’s tourism sector through investments in tourist destinations, historical and cultural sites, SPA said.

The company aims to raise the prominence of Saudi cities on the tourism map by collaborating with public and private sectors.


Young volunteers serve Iraqi pilgrims at Arar border

Young volunteers serve Iraqi pilgrims at Arar border
Updated 3 min 14 sec ago
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Young volunteers serve Iraqi pilgrims at Arar border

Young volunteers serve Iraqi pilgrims at Arar border

RIYADH: The spirit of volunteerism thrives in the Northern Borders region, where young men and women play an important role in welcoming pilgrims arriving from Iraq through the Jadidat Arar border crossing.

More than 80 volunteers affiliated with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, Northern Border University, the Saudi Red Crescent, the Arar Chamber of Commerce and other organizations, have stepped up to serve the pilgrims.

Their dedication has been evident since the arrival of the first groups of pilgrims, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

Tasks include assisting the elderly, providing guidance and hospitality in the designated pilgrim city, and helping with entry procedures and basic health-related tasks, such as taking vital signs.

Several volunteers, some with years of experience, expressed the deep sense of fulfillment that comes from giving back. They view their service as a way to honor their faith, serve their country, and contribute to a smooth and comfortable pilgrim experience.

They also commended government agencies for making their tasks simpler by creating a seamless and flexible work environment. 


King Saud University signs academic agreement with University of Tokyo

King Saud University signs academic agreement with University of Tokyo
Updated 26 May 2024
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King Saud University signs academic agreement with University of Tokyo

King Saud University signs academic agreement with University of Tokyo

TOKYO: King Saud University and the University of Tokyo have signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen academic collaboration in physics, chemistry and Earth sciences.

The MoU was signed by the acting rector of King Saud University, Dr. Abdullah Al-Salman, and the president of the University of Tokyo, Dr. Teruo Fujii, in the presence of the director of Prince Mohammed bin Salman Center for Future Science and Technology, Dr. Hiroaki Aihara.

This collaboration is a major milestone in fostering future partnerships between the two universities.

The Prince Mohammed bin Salman Center, based at the University of Tokyo, will play a crucial role in enhancing and advancing this cooperation.

This article originally appeared on Arab News Japan


Ancient castles in Sabya governorate reflect architectural heritage

Ancient castles in Sabya governorate reflect architectural heritage
Updated 25 May 2024
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Ancient castles in Sabya governorate reflect architectural heritage

Ancient castles in Sabya governorate reflect architectural heritage
  • The Sabya Archaeological Castle has origins that date to the early 20th century

RIYADH: The Sabya governorate in the Jazan region is a treasure trove of archaeological wonders, each with its own unique story.

Among these is the Sabya Archaeological Castle, whose origins date to the early 20th century. The castle, steeped in history, is a must-visit for any archeology enthusiast or researcher.

The castle is situated near Sabya Avenue, within King Fahd Park. It is part of the present city of Sabya, which offers a view of Wadi Sabya. 

The Sabya Archaeological Castle, an architectural marvel, boasts spacious rooms with high ceilings and thick walls. The walls, adorned with beautiful geometric and floral patterns, are a testament to the skill of the craftsmen who built them.

Local materials such as volcanic stone, wood, and limestone were used during construction. Some accounts suggest that the clay used in making bricks was sourced from the banks of Wadi Sabya.

The use of volcanic stones of various sizes and shapes in particular gives the castle a unique and captivating beauty. The stones were obtained from volcanoes near the city, including Jabal Akwa, located a short distance northeast of Sabya.

The mosque, situated north of the castle, was also constructed using the same building materials as the castle and other structures in the area. It was intended for prayers and gatherings of religious leaders, dignitaries, and the people of Sabya. Its mihrab, or prayer niche, still stands despite some damage.

Some accounts suggest the presence of remains of other buildings in the vicinity of the castle, opening the possibility of conducting archaeological excavations to reveal more secrets about this site.

The Kingdom’s Heritage Commission is diligently working to preserve the Sabya Archaeological Castle, recognizing its significance as one of the most important archaeological sites in the Jazan region.


Artist captures Saudi charm with digital works

Artist captures Saudi charm with digital works
Updated 25 May 2024
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Artist captures Saudi charm with digital works

Artist captures Saudi charm with digital works
  • Ghada Al-Shammari says art can be a means to showcase nation’s rich heritage

RIYADH: Timeless Arabic songs and heartfelt poetry provide the inspiration for Ghada Al-Shammari’s digital art, which showcases the Kingdom’s culture and society.

Al-Shammari's first artwork in 2017 was inspired by a popular Saudi song by Majed Al-Esa called “Hwages,” which means “concerns” in English.

The music video provided a comment on society by using satire, showcasing women driving cars, skateboarding, and playing basketball — activities that at the time were not easily accessible for women.

“I liked how they portrayed women in the traditional Saudi abaya, which motivated me to draw it,” Al-Shammari told Arab News.

For one of her artworks Al-Shammari was inspired by a poem by literary icon Prince Badr bin Abdul Mohsen and popularly performed by the late Saudi singer Talal Maddah.

The drawing depicts a man glancing at a woman who has her eyes downcast, with an oud instrument between them, and the 1980 song title “Forgive Me” written in Arabic text above the illustration.

The Saudi artist said that she tries to capture the poet’s feelings with her artwork, adding: “Romantic songs with descriptions of the poet’s beloved have been particularly inspiring for me.” 

Al-Shammari draws inspiration from the beauty within the Kingdom’s culture. Many of her artworks depict women wearing traditional Najdi-style dresses and gowns with draping silhouettes and glimmering gold headpieces and turbans.

The men are depicted with striking features and wearing traditional garments like the head coverings called ghutra or shemagh, and bisht, the men’s cloak commonly worn in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

“Saudi culture and traditions have significantly impacted my work. Growing up, I used to think of Saudi Arabia as just what was around me in terms of environment, customs, and traditions,” Al-Shammari said. 

When she moved from her hometown of Hafar Al-Batin to the capital Riyadh, Al-Shammari said her friendships and acquaintances showed her a new world of ideas that elevated her artistic vision. 

She added: “They shared stories about their region, important landmarks, and fascinating tales that were unique to their areas. This motivated me to learn more about my country and enjoy drawing the diversity and differences I discovered in my artworks.

“Saudi Arabia is full of exciting things, and its diversity is what fascinates me the most. Each region has its own heritage, traditions, architecture, and unique dialect, which makes me eager to learn more and create works that reflect this beautiful diversity.”

Al-Shammari said she selects particular color combinations to evoke the emotions she aims to convey, opting for brighter colors for her cheerful and vibrant works. 

Al-Shammari graduated from the College of Arts and Design at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts.

She added: “Through this specialization, I discovered many artistic and historical aspects, learned about various artists, and got to understand their ideas and philosophies, which transformed my perspective of my work.”

Her love of art began as a child when she would draw characters from her favorite anime and cartoons.

“I started focusing on drawing from an educational perspective at the age of 12 through YouTube tutorials on drawing anime and cartoons, which sparked my artistic journey,” Al-Shammari said.

She added that art is important as it showcases the cultural aspect of a country and its heritage, conveying its history and traditions that help define life in the past and present.

She said: “It serves as a way to preserve and transmit this heritage from one generation to the next, seeking to document knowledge and memories.

“Additionally, from an economic standpoint, art is considered a means to attract tourists interested in discovering the country and its civilization.”

For more information on the artist, visit her Instagram @gh.oi.