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Neglect of historic Jeddah ‘a rumor'
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 25 - 04 - 2013


Mohammad Hadhadh
Okaz/Saudi Gazette
JEDDAH — The executive director of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiques (SCTA) has denied claims that the commission is neglecting the historic area of Jeddah.
Mohammad Al-Omari said the Al-Balad downtown area was the first location to be protected and categorized in the Kingdom.
This has preserved the area and stopped any possible encroachments or its complete removal, he claimed. He pointed out that a separate budget was set aside to develop the historic Jeddah area.
Eighteen cultural buildings and a number of other structures were earmarked for restoration work, while one will be developed by the Saudi Company for Cultural Hospitality as a cultural hotel.
The futures of several waqf (endowment) buildings are being discussed with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Endowments. In addition, a specific and detailed schedule is being developed to complete historic Jeddah projects.
There is a plan for the protection, management and development of historic Jeddah and it has been submitted to UNESCO to consider including the area in its list of world heritage sites.
The SCTA is coordinating with the municipality to electronically archive all documents about the area.
With regard to improving Umrah tourism, he said the government recently approved plans to develop museums on Islamic history.
Many Muslims wish to remain in the Kingdom for a short break after performing Umrah, Al-Omari said, adding there are continuous meetings between the SCTA and the Ministry of Haj, the Passports General Directorate and the National Committee for Umrah to establish a tourism framework for pilgrims who wish to see the country after Umrah.
It will allow Umrah pilgrims to visit any city in the Kingdom during the validity period of their visa.
He said Prince Sultan Bin Salman, president of the SCTA, has taken a keen interest in the preservation of historic Jeddah. He has repeatedly called on local residents and establishments to play a role in maintaining and preserving their heritage, Al-Omari said.
He said the High Commission for the Development of Historic Jeddah has met five times to follow up the execution of the project.
The SCTA is also coordinating with the Ministry of Finance and the municipality in this regard. He said the SCTA conducts inspection tours all year round of more than 5,000 tourist accommodation facilities in Makkah province.
Facilities found to be in violation of SCTA regulations are fined SR10,000.


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