Saudi Arabia establishes new project to preserve industrial heritage

The kingdom is the first country in the Arab world to unveil such an initiative

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 23, 2014, the flag of  Saudi Arabia is hoisted onto the world's tallest flagpole in Jeddah.   The US Commission on International Religious Freedom on April 26, 2019, urged action against ally Saudi Arabia after its mass execution of 37 people, most of them Shiite Muslims. The Commission, whose members are appointed by the president and lawmakers across party lines but whose role is advisory, said the State Department "must stop giving a free pass" to Saudi Arabia.
 / AFP / STR
Powered by automated translation

"Saudi Arabia has an established industrial heritage going back thousands of years and has monuments that deserve care and consideration." This was the message of the kingdom's Minister of Culture, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, on Monday when he announced the inauguration of a dedicated society tasked with preserving the country's industrial past.

The Saudi Society for the Preservation of Industrial Heritage, as it's called, aims to raise awareness of cultural landmarks that are associated with historic local industries, such as within the sectors of oil, water supply systems, minerals, gold, transport cement and concrete.

This makes Saudi Arabia the first Arab country to invest in the sector with the established of such an organisation.

Workshops and promotional campaigns are to be held in collaboration with local companies and conglomerates, as the society also works to preserve, document and enhance selected heritage sites throughout the nation.

The Trans-Arabian Pipeline (Tapline) and Hijaz railway are two sites among those being considered for cultural projects in the future.

Dr Miles Oglethorpe, a board member of The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage, who was present at the society's launch event, said Saudi's impact on the world so far has been "significant", reports Arab News. "If you step back for a moment and ask has Saudi Arabia had any impact on the wider world, the answer is a massive yes," he told the publication.

“Saudi petroleum dominated the world and is still extremely important, so the history of that is very significant. Both how it works now and how it originated.” Dr Oglethorpe also referred to the importance of the country's concrete industry and railways.

As the Middle East's biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia is currently in the process of implementing a number of economic and social reforms, as it opens up for foreign direct investment. This also extends to the country's entertainment industry, which is another key aspect of its Vision 2030 economic diversification strategy, which has been devised to reduce the nation's dependence on oil revenues.

Saudi Arabia has also recently relaxed its strict rules on tourist visas, allowing travellers in to explore the vast kingdom for the first time.