Kingdom, first among Arab countries to set up monuments system
General Supervisor of King Abdullah Cultural Heritage Project and vice president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) Ali Al Ghabban said Saudi Arabia is one of the first Arab countries to set up a monuments system with the aim to protect the heritage sites in the Kingdom for their cultural significance and their value as an economic resource.
“Saudi Arabia is one of the first Arab countries to set up a system for monuments,” Al Ghabban said in a press statement issued yesterday.
Applauding the issuance of the new system of monuments, museums and architectural heritage which was issued by the Council of Ministers recently, Al Ghabban asserted that the new system of monuments enhances the protection of national heritage sites as resources for economic benefit.
He added that the former system was issued 40 years ago but it was necessary to effect some changes in light of an evolution in the government’s interest in preserving architectural and urban heritage including museums to develop a system for the protection of monuments.
He revealed that the new system had been under study for a long time with concerned partners prior to being released with requirements which would enhance the process of preservation, protection and investment.
“The new system focuses on the importance of monuments, their preservation and as an important area of investment to benefit the country’s economy,” Al Ghabban underlined.
He further said the new system devotes a special chapter to urban heritage and museums and takes care of investment in national heritage. It also ensures economical benefits with regard to the sunken monuments and seeks cooperation from scientific missions, exploration operations and archaeological surveys to cope with new developments.
It further classified the architectural heritage, which is recorded as a national heritage with various categories and also supports the creation of a fund to support urban and general heritage, the SCTA deputy said.
“All of these combine to make the new system an important step toward the protection and development of the national heritage and culture,” Al Ghabban asserted.
According to him, the important additions of the new system are in the area of protection where government agencies including the ministries of Municipal and Rural Affairs, Agriculture, Transport, Petroleum and Mineral Resources and other agencies are obliged to operate in locations that are earmarked for developmental projects to ensure there are no sunken or visible monuments there.
“It is necessary to coordinate with the SCTA to ensure that the sites have no monuments,” he stated adding that the system gives the tourism commission a period of four weeks to respond.
“This system has been applied in the past with the Ministry of Petroleum and succeeded without affecting the ongoing developmental work in any way. It will also work with the ministries of Transport and Municipal Affairs, Petroleum and Agriculture,” he said.
The SCTA has developed mechanisms that enable government agencies to respond to these kinds of applications which aim to protect our national heritage as an economic resource in addition to their cultural significance,” Al Ghabban concluded.
The Kingdom is currently in the process of preserving its unique Islamic and cultural identity by showcasing its heritage in national oriented programs such as the Janadriyah Festival which is held annually in the Riyadh region.