P.K. Abdul Ghafour | Arab News.
JEDDAH: Prince Sultan bin Salman, chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), said Saudi Arabia was working hard to retrieve national antiquities within the framework of a comprehensive program.
“We have been assigned by higher authorities to retrieve these antiquities after locating them. In fact, we have been successful in bringing back some of them from Britain and other countries. Most of the antiquities were safe in world museums,” he said.
Speaking to reporters after opening an exhibition of GCC antiquities at King Abdul Aziz Historical Center in Riyadh, Sultan said the SCTA would hold an exhibition of national antiquities retrieved from foreign countries in the same place within four months. He said the new antiquities law would be very strict in dealing with the issue of smuggling antiquities.
He spoke about valuable historical sites that abound in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, which were at the crossroads of civilizations.
“The commission deals with places of historic importance within the perspective of Shariah and with the intent of protecting them. However, we’ll never allow such sites to be turned into shrines,” he said. “We have to project this heritage in order to prove that the Gulf region is not only rich in oil but also in culture and civilization.”
The SCTA chief said Saudi Arabia had intensified ex-ploration with the support of 10 international teams. “We are now passing through a new era of exploration,” he said, adding that the commission would soon hold a media campaign on the importance of antiquities in order to preserve them.
The exhibition titled “Unity of Civilization and Cultural Diversity,” features 700 pieces of antiquities possessed by GCC countries.
Prince Sultan toured the exhibition’s different pavilions to see its various contents. Apart from rare antiquities, the monthlong exhibition features paintings, illustrating important historical and antiquity sites as well as presentations about the history of the Gulf states. Documentaries on several important historical and heritage sites in the GCC are also shown to visitors.
The first GCC exhibition of antiquities was held in Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.
The exhibition has four sections. First: Prehistory, which extends from one million to 6,000 years to date, displaying relics found in GCC countries. Second: The dawn of civilization, a period that extends from the sixth millennium BC to approximately the third millennium BC. Third: Pre-Islamic period, approximately second millennium BC to a hundred years after Christ. The third part is considered a long period which witnessed the emergence of many civilizations in the Gulf countries under different names. Fourth: Represents the Islamic period from the sixth century AD to the Ottoman era.
The most significant pieces on display at the Saudi pavilion is the Mikab Temah (Temah Cube), an inscriptive cube indicating pre-Islamic times dating back to 18th century before Christ, in addition to potteries representing the Abbasid period and the stone tools and arrows dating back to Paleolithic age. The exhibition will travel to all GCC countries one after another.