UNESCO recognition boosts Jeddah’s historical district
The recognition of the Historic Jeddah district as a world heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), would boost tourism in the area, a senior official from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) said here recently.
Ali bin Ibrahim Al-Ghabban, SCTA’s vice-president and general supervisor of the King Abdullah Project for the Care of Cultural Heritage, said the area was exceptional in many ways, including its architecture.
“The buildings here reflect the special architectural identity of the Red Sea and it was, since the early years of Islam to the present, a major gateway for millions of pilgrims on their way to the holy city of Makkah,” he said in a statement.
“We should know that the ancient pilgrim routes were abandoned for a long time in the past for several reasons, including political and economic reasons, and Jeddah was the only available gateway.”
He said the area was important for its mosques, endowments, Haj routes, souks and diverse population that reflected the “cultures of Islamic nations.”
He said the Kingdom had failed to get UNESCO to declare the area a world heritage site in 2011. It then worked on the area for three years, from 2011 to 2014, before making a second successful application.
He said work currently includes architectural and surveying projects, in addition to the restoration of the wooden facades of buildings in the area.
Meanwhile, Masher Al-Naeem, general supervisor of the National Urban Heritage Center of the SCTA, said UNESCO recognition means that more people would visit the area.
Al-Naeem urged property owners in the area to turn their buildings into heritage hotels.
This is the first area recognized by UNESCO not owned by the state. Madain Saleh in Madinah and the Turaif Quarter in Al-Dariyah, Riyadh, are state-owned and already registered as world heritage sites.