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The culture of arts plays an important role in the country’s history and global reputation and has a significant impact on its economy. Therefore, we have always seen how countries are keen and diligent when it comes to preserving and nurturing their culture and arts, which set them apart from others.

As we know, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a culture incubator country, rich in different and various cultural and artistic treasures.

Saudi culture and arts are our entity and what we are, for we were born and raised getting accustomed to it. They include all dialects, customs, arts, and crafts, and it is our duty to preserve and nurture them because they are the main representative of our identity.

What really sets the Kingdom apart is its unique ancient architecture, for we see in each of its regions an unlimited diversity and distinction in terms of the urban heritage. For example, we see many buildings that reflect the cultural depth of the Kingdom and the Saudi artistic diversity in architecture, such as the buildings of the city of Ad Diriyah, the ancient palaces and castles in Al-Ahsa Governorate, the historic Jeddah, the village of Al-'Ula, and other buildings that still exist today.

Its existence until now is due to the quality of the materials used in the past, and because these buildings have received adequate care and undergone continuous restoration by the authorities concerned with this matter to avoid any danger threatening its demise.

As for numbers and statistics, according to the documentation of the Saudi Heritage Authority, the number of urban heritage sites registered in the regions of the Kingdom according to the National Register of Urban Heritage in the Kingdom reached (1,000) sites, while the total archaeological sites in the Kingdom’s regions, according to the National Antiquities Register, reached (8,176) sites.

Among the architectural styles used in the past in the Kingdom and Arab countries are the use of domes and arches of consistent dimensions, the use of high wooden doors that have geometric shapes and the inclusion of Islamic decorations and inscriptions on the walls and doors.

However, what we miss from Saudi architects, despite the Kingdom’s track record of historical urban buildings, is the lack of attempts to create modern architecture integrated with the Kingdom’s famous ancient architectural arts, commensurate with up-to-date arts of architecture and design, instead of following imported western architecture which is far from Saudi architecture. This will make our architecture and design more distinct and unique than others.

The mixture between ancient and modern architecture will be one of the rare things that we often see in mosques and museums only, but if we try to use this architecture on a wider scale, and use it in more buildings and places, such as buildings with touristic, recreational, and educational purposes, residential homes, and hotel rooms, then this will add to the Saudi architecture more distinction and exceptional design.

Also, rehabilitating heritage buildings to allow them to be used as hotels or to convert them into small museums will help tourists learn about our unique civilization. Thus, we must be careful to preserve the identity of the place and its basic form, even with the rehabilitation works so as not to remove its originality.

The Cabinet approved the Law of Antiquities, Museums, and Urban Heritage in its new version issued by Royal Decree No. (M/3) dated 9/1/1436 AH, which included the importance of preserving antiquities and urban heritage and not subjecting them to demolition, removal, or sabotage, and setting penalties for this, which would motivate citizens to be the first partners in maintaining them.

Some of the suggested methods that contribute to the creation of this art are:

  • Including the forms of modern architecture in Saudi architecture to keep pace with architectural development.
  • Using old style and building methods and making them more integrated with modern architecture, in line with new human needs.
  • Supporting and promoting the orientation of young people toward architectural education and the Saudi colleges of architecture and design.
  • Confidence in the ability and artistic sense of Saudi architects and turning to them instead of foreign architects.
  • Establishing training programs for architecture and design in cooperation with the Architecture and Design Commission and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.
  • Directing the faculties of architecture and design to consolidate and preserve traditional Saudi architecture in their curricula.
  • Re-establishing the infrastructure of heritage buildings and providing them with services and facilities.

It is no secret to us that this unique art will give us many positive returns; It will enable us to attract and develop Saudi talents, as well as create new and unique job opportunities for those interested in design and architecture among the Kingdom’s youth.

This art will help preserve and perpetuate the precious Saudi heritage and identity, of which we are proud, in addition to the fact that our architecture will be able to receive sufficient attention from historians and scholars of ancient and modern oriental art and international organizations, such as UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee. This allows us to promote and reveal our culture and our Saudi civilization locally and globally.

Our ancient architectural heritage is superior and successful in combining heritage architecture with the new needs of individuals, and choosing appropriate designs suggests to us the customary life in the Kingdom, that being the hot and dry desert nature, which is clearly visible through the use of earthy and golden colors. This is the main distinction to which we aspire by merging ancient and modern architecture.

The authentic urban heritage is a symbol of our dignity, pride, and distinction. It is part of our present and future culture and an inexhaustible source of livelihood, so we must celebrate it and use it to serve the interests of our country and its culture.

 

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