SCT to Focus on Preservation of Historic Sites

RIYADH- The Supreme Commission for Tourism is to focus increasingly on the preservation of the Kingdom’s threatened historical sites, highlighting a recently restored palace in Taif as an example of the cultural attractions the Kingdom has to offer.

Shubra Palace, once the summer residence of King Abdul Aziz and the seat of the government, has been opened for public after the completion of massive renovation works.

Crown Prince Abdullah recently led a group of officials on a visit of the palace, which consists of a five-story building and a sprawling estate.

At an event mapping out strategies to promote the Kingdom’s historical and cultural monuments, the commission said Shubra Palace embodied the Kingdom’s history of unification and Islamic art.

The SCT workshop, which drew more than 100 people from the public and private sector, discussed the imminent merger of the deputy ministry of antiquities and museums with the SCT, its Secretary-General Prince Sultan in Salman said.

Once it is complete, the commission will be better able to focus on preserving and promoting heritage sites. Several experts at the workshop expressed concern over the destruction of venerable architectural and Islamic monuments.

Professor Saad Al-Rashid, the deputy minister for antiquities and museums at the Ministry of Education, said the SCT has already started work on some projects to preserve historical sites and turn them into valuable tourist attractions in the process.

Al-Rashid said the move would allow the SCT to curb the wanton destruction of scores of historical and Islamic sites, either by government agencies or by individuals. “We dispatched eight scientific excavation teams in different parts of the Kingdom last year alone and we are handling some 20 archaeological projects at the moment,” he said.

A group of experts from King Saud University has also started excavation works in the Al-Oula region, where pre-Islamic findings will shed new light on the history of the Arabian Peninsula.

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