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SR1m per building for renovation of historical Jeddah
By Naif Masrahi
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 28 - 05 - 2010

Jeddah Municipality plans to spend between SR600,000 to SR1 million per building as part of its program to renovate the historical areas in the city's downtown Al-Balad District, said Adnan Adas, Director of Historical Jeddah Urban Regeneration and Development at the municipality, speaking Wednesday while on a tour of the Abo Safiyah and Bassyoney houses as part of the Jeddah Architectural Heritage Exhibition.
“In 1970, there were 1,200 historical buildings. Sadly, only 350 remain,” said Adas.
He believes there are two factors that have resulted in this loss. “First, is the lack of restoration activities and maintenance. Second, despite its good commercial location, houses in Al-Balad are rented out for very low prices to foreign workers who have been living there for a long time and have misused the property,” he said, adding that house owners are also responsible for not caring for their houses in Al-Balad and preferring to live in more modern areas instead.
Adas feels that the creation of new laws will help preserve the unique architecture of the city and its Hijazi heritage.
“We need to start a program to create awareness of the importance of preserving heritage and our Hijazi traditions,” he said.
Commenting on Jeddah's inclusion in UNESCO's list of historical places, Adas said an announcement in this regard will be made in July 2011.
“We are working in cooperation with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) to comply with UNESCO's registration process,” he said.
He said his department has just finished preparing the first technical manual on restoration in Saudi Arabia and that the manual has been approved by UNESCO and other international agencies for urban restoration.
“The Jeddah Mayoralty can solve the funding problem by establishing a ‘Public Private Partnership' (PPP) in cooperation with the Jeddah Development Urban and Recreation Company (JDURC) to develop the historical area,” said Adas, adding that each meter of restoration will cost the municipality between SR2,000 and SR3,000.
“For example, if the area of the building is 200 meters, it will cost us a total of SR 600,000,” he said.
Restoration work has begun on 44 buildings in Al-Sham District, north of Al-Balad. “Life will return to normalcy in that area when the old buildings are converted into traditional restaurants, heritage hotels, coffee shops and bazaars,” he said.
The renovation work is expected to create around 15,000 to 40,000 jobs for Saudi nationals.

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