Museum Security Network

Saudi heritage needs better care: Prince Sultan Bin Salman

Saudi heritage needs better care: Prince Sultan Bin Salman
By Wafa Badawood
“In my view, we are still lagging behind in caring for our national antiquities and historical heritage.”
This was the frank assessment by Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, Chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), on the state of this part of the country’s historical legacy. He was speaking at a gathering held last Monday by Abdul Maqsood Khoja.
However, the Prince also expressed optimism on the way forward in protecting the country’s historical sites and preserving its ancient artifacts. Developments underway in the Kingdom will soon ensure that this country ranks among the best in the world in this area, he said.
He remarked that the Kingdom was invited regularly to participate at international events aimed at the development of humanity. For this reason, the country needed to be an example to the world, to provide everyone with a “special impression of our great national heritage.” He lamented that a “big portion” of this national heritage has been lost “due to negligence” and the effect of time.
“We must give this aspect special importance because we must show the whole world that the Kingdom has a deep-rooted history.”
In this regard, Prince Sultan announced the launch of the first Saudi exhibition on antiquities at the Louvre Museum in Paris in July next summer and the architectural heritage conference next April.
Protection and awareness
Prince Sultan also said the SCTA had also referred a recommendation for the maintenance and repair of rest-houses on the Kingdom’s roads and highways to the Shoura Council.
He said repairs and renovations will also be completed on mosques with historical value. Work is also underway to launch the Holy Qur’an House (Dar Al-Qur’an Al-Kareem) in Madina and the reconstruction of Khuzam Museum in Jeddah, adding that for the first time in the history of the Kingdom, municipalities have allocated a budget for the protection of the Kingdom’s heritage.
He also announced the establishment of a new company for the development of heritage hotels. “We have made big strides in this direction.
We have a new program under the name ‘Tamkeen’ which involves the protection of antiquities, creating and developing awareness, and training people in this area. We also emphasize family tourism.” He said the most important people being targeted for tourism are Saudis. This is because there is huge economic potential from domestic tourism.
Locals can also get involved in the industry. “There are loans from the credit fund for Saudi nationals, to renovate their heritage villages into tourist areas,” he remarked, adding that this was especially important in rural areas because of the decline in the agricultural sector.
There would also be financial support for museums, through banks and some social bodies. A training program exists for the management of museums and heritage sites; and for developing the handicrafts program, known in “Arabic as Bare.”
Security of antiquities
Prince Sultan also drew attention to the cooperation between the SCTA and the Ministry of Interior on “tourism security.” This refers to the plan to return stolen antiquities to the Kingdom, with the help of the International Criminal Police Organization, better known as Interpol. He said the SCTA has already been able to retrieve 10,000 artefacts.
Indicating that the heritage of the country belonged to all its citizens and should be openly displayed for everyone to appreciate, he said: “We want to remove antiquities from the [dark hole] it is in. We want national antiquities to be easily recognized, openly [displayed] and organized. It [should be the] property of all citizens and not of any particular person.”
He added that citizens should also be educated about the cultural history of their country. “The Saudi national knows less about the antiquities in his country than foreigners. We have been getting our brethren from other countries to work with us. It is strange that they know more about this country than its citizens. These people praise our customs and traditions and are impressed by the Saudi national [heritage] after living for some time among us. For this reason, we must work to reinstate the importance and respect for our national heritage. It must not be viewed merely as a good idea,” he remarked. “History will not forgive us if we leave these artifacts to be stolen. We have left our antiquities exposed to weather and erosion and we have found artifacts in museums [all over the place].”
Prince Sultan also recalled his visit to an archeological site on the occasion, before he was placed in charge of antiquities. “I was brought to tears by the poor condition they were in. I cannot help becoming emotional when I see [other] countries with limited resources making big strides in protecting its antiquities. Therefore, we have started the National Plan for the Protection of Antiquities. The state has and will continue to support it.”
Eight museums
Prince Sultan said the future looked bright, particularly now that a plan is in place to build and develop museums. “This year we will construct eight museums, but in a completely different way. The SCTA has signed an agreement with the Ministry of Education to ensure a comprehensive development of the whole concept of antiquities and museums. The program has so far covered 3,000 students, and work is ongoing to educate other students,” he said. – Okaz/SG

Saudi heritage needs better care: Prince Sultan Bin SalmanBy Wafa Badawood
“In my view, we are still lagging behind in caring for our national antiquities and historical heritage.”This was the frank assessment by Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, Chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), on the state of this part of the country’s historical legacy. He was speaking at a gathering held last Monday by Abdul Maqsood Khoja.However, the Prince also expressed optimism on the way forward in protecting the country’s historical sites and preserving its ancient artifacts. Developments underway in the Kingdom will soon ensure that this country ranks among the best in the world in this area, he said.He remarked that the Kingdom was invited regularly to participate at international events aimed at the development of humanity. For this reason, the country needed to be an example to the world, to provide everyone with a “special impression of our great national heritage.” He lamented that a “big portion” of this national heritage has been lost “due to negligence” and the effect of time.“We must give this aspect special importance because we must show the whole world that the Kingdom has a deep-rooted history.”In this regard, Prince Sultan announced the launch of the first Saudi exhibition on antiquities at the Louvre Museum in Paris in July next summer and the architectural heritage conference next April.
Protection and awarenessPrince Sultan also said the SCTA had also referred a recommendation for the maintenance and repair of rest-houses on the Kingdom’s roads and highways to the Shoura Council.He said repairs and renovations will also be completed on mosques with historical value. Work is also underway to launch the Holy Qur’an House (Dar Al-Qur’an Al-Kareem) in Madina and the reconstruction of Khuzam Museum in Jeddah, adding that for the first time in the history of the Kingdom, municipalities have allocated a budget for the protection of the Kingdom’s heritage.He also announced the establishment of a new company for the development of heritage hotels. “We have made big strides in this direction. We have a new program under the name ‘Tamkeen’ which involves the protection of antiquities, creating and developing awareness, and training people in this area. We also emphasize family tourism.” He said the most important people being targeted for tourism are Saudis. This is because there is huge economic potential from domestic tourism. Locals can also get involved in the industry. “There are loans from the credit fund for Saudi nationals, to renovate their heritage villages into tourist areas,” he remarked, adding that this was especially important in rural areas because of the decline in the agricultural sector.There would also be financial support for museums, through banks and some social bodies. A training program exists for the management of museums and heritage sites; and for developing the handicrafts program, known in “Arabic as Bare.”
Security of antiquitiesPrince Sultan also drew attention to the cooperation between the SCTA and the Ministry of Interior on “tourism security.” This refers to the plan to return stolen antiquities to the Kingdom, with the help of the International Criminal Police Organization, better known as Interpol. He said the SCTA has already been able to retrieve 10,000 artefacts.Indicating that the heritage of the country belonged to all its citizens and should be openly displayed for everyone to appreciate, he said: “We want to remove antiquities from the [dark hole] it is in. We want national antiquities to be easily recognized, openly [displayed] and organized. It [should be the] property of all citizens and not of any particular person.”He added that citizens should also be educated about the cultural history of their country. “The Saudi national knows less about the antiquities in his country than foreigners. We have been getting our brethren from other countries to work with us. It is strange that they know more about this country than its citizens. These people praise our customs and traditions and are impressed by the Saudi national [heritage] after living for some time among us. For this reason, we must work to reinstate the importance and respect for our national heritage. It must not be viewed merely as a good idea,” he remarked. “History will not forgive us if we leave these artifacts to be stolen. We have left our antiquities exposed to weather and erosion and we have found artifacts in museums [all over the place].”Prince Sultan also recalled his visit to an archeological site on the occasion, before he was placed in charge of antiquities. “I was brought to tears by the poor condition they were in. I cannot help becoming emotional when I see [other] countries with limited resources making big strides in protecting its antiquities. Therefore, we have started the National Plan for the Protection of Antiquities. The state has and will continue to support it.”
Eight museumsPrince Sultan said the future looked bright, particularly now that a plan is in place to build and develop museums. “This year we will construct eight museums, but in a completely different way. The SCTA has signed an agreement with the Ministry of Education to ensure a comprehensive development of the whole concept of antiquities and museums. The program has so far covered 3,000 students, and work is ongoing to educate other students,” he said. – Okaz/SG

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