Saudi Arabia strives to promote key archaeological and historic sites in line with Vision 2030 goals to grow tourism industry
JEDDAH, July 24, 2017 – King Salman bin Abdulaziz has decreed the establishment of renovation commissions tasked with the development of two of the most important archaeological and historic sites in the Kingdom, Al-Ola and Diriyah Gate. These two areas’ historic, cultural and architectural significance are expected to make them major tourist attractions as Saudi Arabia’s hospitality and tourism industry matures to welcome both local and international travellers.
The new Royal Orders issued recently to establish the Royal Commission for Al-Ola Province and Diriyah Gate Renovation Commission are an outgrowth of Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s roadmap to the future. Among the many targets highlighted by Vision 2030, the tourism industry is expected to grow significantly as infrastructure is put in place to attract over one million tourists annually.
The Al-Ola commission was formed “considering the importance of developing Al-Ola Province in a way that matches its historical value, and the historical sites it contains; in line with the economic and cultural interests of the nation, and the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and to highlight the gifts of human heritage God bestowed on our country,” said one of the Royal Orders.
The King ordered the formation of Al-Ola commission’s board of directors, assigning as chairman of the board HRH the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence.
In another Royal Order, the King approved the establishment the commission to oversee the construction of Diriyah Gate, which looks out over the banks of Wadi Hanifa and is an extension of Al-Bijeiri District from the east.
Diriyah Gate project is part of a massive plan to develop the historic area by building facilities at its entrance to attract visitors. The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO had approved Diriyah’s Turaif District as a World Heritage Site in 2010.
The gate’s design, according to sources, is to be inspired by local motifs woven into distinctive surroundings and urban heritage. A major restoration project, ordered by then-King Abdullah, has been underway at Diriyah since 2011, resulting in construction of the largest Islamic museum in the Middle East, in addition to a city made of mud that includes the King Salman Library. There are also souqs, restaurants and other venues for fun and relaxation.
The Diriyah Gate commission’s board of directors will also be headed by the Crown Prince, who is also Chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs.
Al-Ola: Al-Ola is one of the most fascinating vestiges of ancient Arabia, lying 380 km north of Madina. The small town, an oasis with fertile soil and plenty of water, was founded in the 6th century and today serves as the gateway to the Kingdom’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mada’en Saleh. More than 2,000 years old and built by the Nabataeans, who also carved the ruins of Petra in Jordan, Mada’en Saleh is expected to become one of Saudi Arabia’s premier tourist destination as the Kingdom forges a tourism and hospitality industry. Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) passed through Al-Ola in 630 AD on his way to the Battle of Tabuk between the Arabs and the Byzantines.
Diriyah: The town of Diriyah, about 20 km from the capital of Riyadh, is a small historic city whose historic Turaif District was granted UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site in 2010. Originally the first capitol of the Saudi Royal Dynasty, from 1744 to 1818, the town is an excellent example of the Najdi architectural style of the period. Its close proximity to Riyadh and its historical and architectural significance make it an excellent tour destination for those living in and visiting Riyadh.
- Mountains overlooking the landscape in Mada’en Saleh, a pre-Islamic archaeological site located in Al-Ola in north west Saudi Arabia (external link | SaudiTourism.sa)
- The layered rock formations of Mount Athlib to the north east of Mada’en Saleh (external link | SaudiTourism.sa)
- Temples and stone monuments in Mada’en Saleh. Some of the temples are for general use and others for special worship and many of them were built around Mount Athlib to the north east of Mada’en Saleh (external link | SaudiTorusim.sa)