How Saudi Arabia revived the ancient Silk Road

How Saudi Arabia revived the ancient Silk Road
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The Saudi delegation headed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during an interaction with representatives of Chinese companies in Beijing on Wednesday. (SPA)
How Saudi Arabia revived the ancient Silk Road
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Saudi officials discuss investment opportunities with their Chinese counterparts in Beijing on Wednesday. (SPA)
Updated 03 September 2016

How Saudi Arabia revived the ancient Silk Road

How Saudi Arabia revived the ancient Silk Road

JEDDAH: The recently signed trade agreements between Saudi Arabia and China have revived ancient trade routes between Arabs and China that were represented in the maritime Silk Road and the incense trade route that crossed the Arabian Peninsula.
The Silk Road or Silk Route was opened around 3,000 years ago with the transfer of Chinese silk to the Arabian Peninsula and trade exchange with Arab goods that included incense, frankincense and pearls. It is opposite to the Khraibeh port, north of Duba on the Red Sea, and the Aqeer port on the Arabian Gulf, the most famous halting areas for ships carrying Chinese silk.
The Silk Route was named after the roads that were used by convoys and ships between China and Europe with a length of 10,000 km during the Han dynasty in China around 200 B.C.
It was named in 1877 by a German geographer because Chinese silk was representing the largest proportion of trade through this road. The maritime silk stems from the port of Canton in China and crosses the Chinese seas before wrapping around the coast of the Indian subcontinent to enter the seas surrounding the Arabian Peninsula.
It is divided into two branches — one to the north in the Arabian Gulf waters to reach the Transoxiana and Persia and the other heading west toward the coast of Yemen and the Hijaz and passing through the Red Sea.
This highlights the fundamental role of Saudi Arabia by virtue of its geographical location, which is also in line with Saudi Vision 2030 that focuses on the exploitation of the geographical location of the Kingdom.
Eid Al-Yahya, a researcher, said that history proves that the Chinese and Arab nations are nations of work and trade, and not nations of wars and conflicts. “Arabs and Chinese roamed the seas and deserts for trade and work. Incense roads cross the Arabian Peninsula desert while the Silk Road is through the seas.”
The researcher said that meetings between Chinese and Arab merchants boosted trade exchange among them. The Arabs possessed Arabian incense, frankincense, copper and pearls which were carried on the backs of camels or in ships for sale. This helped Arabs to be rich as narrated in a lot of pre-Islamic Arab poetry.
The trade stopped after several disturbances in the world, Al-Yahya said. “Wild incense routes were stopped as well. The Quraish tribe reopened only one commercial line, which is called Asaad Al-Kamel road or Elephant Road that connects Yemen and the Hijaz. It had trade, influence and power,” he said.