Saudi models seek ‘understanding’

Updated 05 June 2015

Saudi models seek ‘understanding’

JEDDAH: Several Saudi men and women working as models want fellow citizens to understand that they are simply trying to earn a living, and that their jobs are not unlawful.

Wedyan Khaled, a woman model, said she had to face several problems because many people are opposed to what she is doing. “I have paid a high price. My fiancé left me the moment he heard I was a model,” she was quoted as saying recently in a local publication.
Khaled said she cannot understand why people react in this manner because she models abayas and is constantly surrounded by her women friends and colleagues, with no men around.
Two models, Samar Khayat and Raghdan Al-Ghamdi, said they have also faced several problems. “It is not easy for a woman model to find a husband, not to mention the negative manner in which society views the modeling profession. This is so even though fashion shows are in closed areas with only women allowed entry,” said Al-Ghamdi.
Mohammad Fuhmi, a model, said: “My work has been very successful so far. I first focused on my studies and got a master’s degree. Then I dedicated myself to modeling. I love this profession very much and I cannot imagine doing anything else.”
However, he said that models face many problems including companies refusing to pay them properly. This is because there are no laws regulating the industry, he said.
Mansour Jamal, a model, said there is an urgent need for laws to oversee the industry so that people are not exploited by individuals and companies. However, in response to a question on how he views women models, he said: “To be honest, I will never marry a model.”
Mohammad Fahmi, a fellow model, said he would under certain conditions. “If the woman only models decent clothes, in line with Arab tradition, I would probably marry her,” he said.
Fayez Al-Qahtani, a fashion photographer, said: “There is no doubt that people working in the modeling business face many difficulties. I have been detained and my camera was confiscated many times. But the biggest problem has been people denying us our rights. There is no regulatory body overseeing this work.”
Umaimah Azoz, a businesswoman and head of the committee for fashion design at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “We should consider the issue from the financial side. Saudis spend a fortune on fashion, in fact I think we spend the most in the world.”
“This business generates huge profits that’s why we set up a committee which is helping industry players reach their goals.” Despite all these efforts, she added, the industry is still not properly regulated.
However, she said that measures are taken to abide by local customs. “We respect and abide by our Arab and Islamic traditions in terms of decency,” she said.

Diriyah Gate to be a global, historical and cultural landmark

Updated 22 November 2019

Diriyah Gate to be a global, historical and cultural landmark

  • Diriyah is home to Al-Turaif District, built in 1744 and known as one of the largest clay cities in the world

DIRIYAH: With the establishment of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), the historical site of Diriyah will become one of the largest and most important international destinations.

The DGDA seeks to transform the site into a location to host activities and events aimed at exchanging historical and cultural knowledge through museums and venues spread throughout
Al-Turaif District.

 The DGDA aims to celebrate the people of Diriyah by telling their stories and demonstrating their social, cultural and historical the roots, as the cradle of the first Saudi state and a symbol of the beauty of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and
its people.

 Diriyah is home to Al-Turaif District, built in 1744 and known as one of the largest clay cities in the world. It was registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2010 — one of five Saudi sites listed.

Not far from Al-Turaif District is the historic Al-Bujairi District, which was a center for spreading science and knowledge during the prosperity of Diriyah, as the capital of the first Saudi state. 

Today it houses many commercial centers and cafes and is the perfect destination to experience Saudi cuisine.

One of the historical landmarks in Al-Turaif District is Salwa Palace, which is located in the northeastern part. It is the largest of its landmarks and spans over 10,000 square meters. It was founded by Imam Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed bin Saud in 1765, and is historically known as the home of the first royal family. 

The palace houses the Diriyah Museum, which presents the history and development of the first Saudi state through works of art, drawings, models and documentaries.


At the northern end of old Diriyah, the town of Ghusaybah sits atop of a plateau surrounded by the Hanifa Valley on three sides.

Salwa Palace forms an integrated architectural system with its residential, administrative, cultural and religious units.

 Al-Turaif District also includes the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Mosque, known as the Great Mosque or Al-Turaif Mosque. It is adjacent to Salwa Palace on the north side, and Imams used to lead Friday prayers there.

 To make movement between the mosque and the palace easier, Imam Saud bin Abdul Aziz built a bridge to connect them on the upper floor. The mosque houses a religious school to teach religious sciences. It was formerly the largest mosque in the Arabian Peninsula and was built to symbolize the strength and unity of the Saudi state.

 At the northern end of old Diriyah, the town of Ghusaybah sits atop of a plateau surrounded by the Hanifa Valley on three sides. It was settled by Mani’ Al-Muraydi, the oldest ancestor of the House of Saud, in the 15th century. 

Ghusaybah is a well-established location, carefully chosen for the establishment of the new governorate, and its location played a major role in the protection of Hajj convoys and trade passing through its areas of influence in Al-Arid region.

 Ghusaybah was the seat of an independent governorate before the founding of the first Saudi state. It provided protection for the northern gate of Diriyah during the campaign of Ibrahim Pasha in 1818.

 Samhan is one of the historical areas south of Ghusaybeh on a triangle overlooking the valley when it meets another tributary, the villages of Omran. It directly overlooks the districts of Qusayrin, Mrayih, and Al-Turaif. This location was important during the reign of Imam Mohammed bin Saud and his son Samhan, being a well-fortified site during the siege of Diriyah. It was selected by Imam Abdullah to be his defense headquarters.

 In the field of philanthropy, one may mention “Sabala Moudhi” which was founded by Imam Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed bin Saud, who made it a charitable endowment in the name of his mother, Moudhi bint Sultan bin Abi Wahtan, wife of Imam Mohammed bin Saud. 

It is located east of the Salwa Palace on the southeast of Al-Turaif District. It is a two-story building and was established to provide free accommodation for visitors coming to the city of Diriyah.