SCTH Transfers National Heritage Sector to Ministry of Culture After Completing its Organization, Development and Launching its Projects


​SCTH Transfers National Heritage Sector to Ministry of Culture After Completing its Organization, Development and Launching its projects

Commission put an end to vandalism, random removals and announced archaeological discoveries that received international recognition


  • SCTH registered five sites at the World Heritage Sites and retrieving more than 54,000 missing archaeological pieces
  • SCTH implemented 230 archaeological, heritage and museum projects under the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Program and adopting a new system for antiquities

The recent signing of a memorandum of understanding – by His Highness Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, the Minister of Culture, and His Excellency Chairman of the Board of the Director Mr. Ahmed bin Aqil Al Khateeb​ between the Ministry and the commission to start preparations to transfer the national heritage sector from the commission to the ministry – represents a new era for the sector that started in the Education Ministry before it moves to the tourism commission in early 1429 H, and is scheduled to move in the few coming months to the Ministry of Culture that had not been established upon the creation of the commission, where the commission coordinated with the Ministry of Culture to transfer the heritage sector for its being a pure cultural activity that is affiliated with the ministries and commissions of culture in most countries. 

The national heritage sector, during the commission's supervision, has witnessed a remarkable qualitative leap at the local, regional and international levels in the fields of archaeological discoveries, retrieving archaeological pieces, local and international antiquities exhibitions, establishing new and developed museums, rehabilitating archaeological and heritage sites, developing handicrafts, endorsing bylaws and laws related to protecting heritage and registering five Saudi sites at the World Heritage Sites of UNESCO, among other achievements. 

The commission's efforts in protecting the national heritage of the Kingdom were crowned by accrediting the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cultural Heritage Program on Thul Hijja 3, 1435 H (corresponding to January 13, 2014), which is considered a historic national project that reflects the development of national heritage programs and projects in the Kingdom, and includes a number of series of national projects through its ventures that reach 230 schemes. The program was among the first important initiatives that were included in the 2020 National Transformation Program to achieve the 2030 Saudi Vision.

New Strategy for Heritage
The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, once it tool the reasonability of the national heritage sector, has worked for drawing the institutional and organizational structures for the sector according to a scientific strategy that accords with the best international experiments in terms of systems and polices that aim at raising the awareness in the national heritage, highlighting its importance, its protection, preparation and rehabilitation, revaluation, and transferring it into tourist destinations and routes to invest them as economic resources that can contribute to diversifying the sources of national income. 

The commission, since annexing the antiquities and museums sectors, has embarked on preparing a comprehensive strategy to develop the sector, which was endorsed by the board of directors in 1426 H. 

With the issuance of the Council of Ministers' decision in Rabi I, 1429 H (corresponding to March, 2008) with the approval on the new bylaw of the commission and amending the higher commission for tourism into the general commission for tourism and antiquities, the commission adopted a comprehensive vision for the sector of antiquities, museums and national heritage with its various categories, and prepared a draft bylaw for antiquities and museums. 
  
Bylaws and Agreements to Protect Antiquities and National Heritage
The commission has worked for preparing a draft bylaw for antiquities, museums and architecture heritage that the Council of Ministers approved on Monday Shaban 25, 1435 (corresponding to June 23, 2014), so as the new bylaw can keep pace with the new comprehensive development process for antiquities, architectural heritage and the handicrafts and their industry. This bylaw is considered a qualitative leap in dealing with antiquities and cultural heritage of the Kingdom, and encourages citizens to be the first partner in preserving these resources, and the bylaw is characterized by the inclusiveness and integration with other bylaws.

The Preservation of Islamic History Sites
Islamic history sites in all regions of the Kingdom, at the top of which are Makka Al-Mukarramah and Al Madina Al-Munawwarah, receive big attention from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, and as part of the commission's efforts in this side, a Royal Decree was issued to preserve Islamic history sites in Makka Al-Mukarramah and Al Madina Al-Munawwarah and investing them in a way that does not lead to violating the Islamic sharia and not to remove historical mosques without referring to a Royal Decree, where a Royal Decree was issued in 1429 H to ban attacks on Islamic historical sites in Makka Al-Mukarramah and Al Madina Al-Munawwarah. The commission, in cooperation with stakeholders and a group of specialists, has identified and registered 384 sites, including 266 sites in Al Madina Al-Munawwarah and 118 sites in Makka Al-Mukarramah.  

The commission also established the "Preservation of Islamic historical sites" program to preserve sites associated with the life of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and the era of Righteous Caliphs (Rashidin Caliphs) with the aim of utilizing them in the best way that can highlight the emergence of the message of Islam. 


 Stopping the Random Removal of Heritage Buildings 
As part of the commission's efforts and assigning it to preserve national heritage, it sought to issue a number of orders and communiques related to stopping violations against heritage and archaeological buildings and sites from His Highness the Minister of Interior and His Excellency the Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs, and set the bylaws that ban the removal of heritage buildings unless by the consultation of the commission's specialists, as well as the issuance of a Royal Decree that bans attacks on sites of heritage importance.   

Survey and Excavation Works and the Most Important Archaeological Discoveries
The commission has increased its focus on conducting archaeological surveys and excavations in various regions of the Kingdom and expanded these works, where 44 local and joint international missions are currently working in the Kingdom, which achieved a lot of important archaeological discoveries that received broad resonance at the international level. Among the most important archaeological discoveries that the commission achieved in the past five years are discovering the "Maqar Civilization" that proved that the first taming of the Arabian horses occurred in the Arabian Peninsula some 9,000 years ago, and discovering a human bone that dates back to some 90,000 ago near the Taima Governorate in Tabouk Region is among the most important recent archaeological discoveries in the region and the world, in addition to discovering a tusk of elephant whose age is more than 500,000 years.

The "Green Arabian Peninsula" project is also an extension to these important discoveries, which unveiled scientific evidence for the presence of hundreds of lakes, rivers, forests and beings in various parts of the Arabian Peninsula, which made several successive civilizations to settle and develop in and around the area.   
 
Retrieving Missing National Antiquities
The commission's efforts has resulted in retrieving more than 20,000 archaeological pieces from inside the Kingdom and more than 34,000 archaeological pieces from outside the Kingdom, where some them had been missing for more than 50 years. The commission continues its efforts to retrieve more missing national antiquities from inside and outside the Kingdom as stipulated in local and international bylaws and agreements.
 
Saudi Sites within the World Heritage Sites
The commission has placed much attention to registering archaeological and heritage sites at the UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, with the aim of maintaining the diversified historical, archaeological and heritage richness in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and highlighting the value and history of its antiquities, where Mada'in Saleh (Hegra) was the first Saudi site to be registered at the World Heritage Site in 1429 H / 2008, and was followed by registering the Tarif Neighborhood in the historical city of Dariyeh in 1431 H / 2010, Jeddah historical site in 1435 H / 2014, followed by registering the stone inscriptions in Hael in 1436 H / July, 2015, and the Oasis of Ahsa in Shawwal, 1439 H / July, 2018 as the fifth site for the Kingdom at the World Heritage Sites. The commission has also proposed other nine sites to be registered at the World Heritage Sites in the coming years, which are: the stone arts in Bir Ham'a, Al-Fao Village in the Riyadh Region, the Egyptian Hajj route, the Levant Hajj route, Darb Zbeidah, the Hijaz Railway, Hayy Al-Dorou' in Domet Jandal, Thi Ain heritage village in Baha Region and Rijal Alma' heritage village in Asir Region.
 
Paying Attention to Museums as part of the national history memory 
The commission has also placed much attention to museums and linked them to tourist activities in the Kingdom's regions and worked on establishing regional museums in each of Dammam, Baha, Abha, Hael and Tabouk, in addition to developing six existing museums in each of Taima', Najran, Jazan, Al-Ahsa', Al-Ola and Al-Jaof. The development process included buildings and museums shows. The commission, in cooperation with its partners in the regions, has also rehabilitated and renovated state-owned archaeological and historical buildings, with the aim of using them as museums and cultural centers for regions and governorates, where the National Museum in Riyadh has received a special attention from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, for its being the most important museum that represents a cultural landmark for the Kingdom in its capital Riyadh, where the commission has embarked on implementing a project to expand and develop the museum. 

The commission also supports private museums according to certain conditions that are associated with the quality of the performance, where it has granted licenses to more than 180 museums that meet the licensing standards so far. 


The “Roads of Arabia Masterpieces of Antiquities in Saudi Arabia Across the Ages” Exhibition
The “Roads of Arabia Masterpieces of Antiquities in Saudi Arabia Across the Ages” Exhibition, which is organized by the Saudi Commission of Tourism and National Heritage, is considered one of the most important international Saudi exhibitions that presented the cultural heritage of the Kingdom and the Arabian Peninsula to more than five million visitors from various countries of the world through holding the exhibition in the most famous international museums in European, American and Asian capitals and cities, where the exhibition was an important and vital opportunity to acquaint the world with the civilizations of the Kingdom and the Arabian Peninsula and what enjoy of rich cultural heritage and cultural components that extend over centuries. 

Over the nine past years, and more specifically since July 13, 2010, the commission has held the exhibition in 15 local and international stations, during which it toured the most famous museums of the world, where the exhibition included more than 460 archaeological pieces from showcases items in the National Museum in Riyadh and several museums of the Kingdom. 
 
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cultural Heritage Program
The commission's efforts in protecting the national heritage of the Kingdom were crowned by accrediting the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cultural Heritage Program on Thul Hijja 3, 1435 H (corresponding to January 13, 2014), which is considered a historic national project that reflects the development of national heritage programs and projects in the Kingdom, and includes a number of series of national projects, such as antiquities, museums, architectural heritage and handicrafts and their industry. Due to the importance of program and its projects that reach 230 schemes that aim at diversifying the national income resources, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cultural Heritage Program was among the first important initiatives that were included in the 2020 National Transformation Program to achieve the 2030 Saudi Vision.