Saudi Arabia’s Hima rock art added to UNESCO World Heritage List

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Saudi Arabia’s Hima, a mountainous area that is home to a large collection of rock art images dating back thousands of years, has been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, the agency announced on Saturday.

The site of the rock inscriptions in the southwest region is the sixth location in the Kingdom to be added to the list.

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Rock inscriptions in Hima Cultural Area, Saudi Arabia. (Twitter)
Rock inscriptions in Hima Cultural Area, Saudi Arabia. (Twitter)

“We are thrilled to have this exceptional ancient site recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The area has outstanding universal value, providing us with many lessons about the evolution of human culture and life in ancient times,” said Dr. Jasir al-Herbish, CEO of the Heritage Commission.

Hima Cultural Area was once a major route for traders, armies, and Hajj pilgrims who traveled from different parts of Arabia, Mesopotamia, the Levant, and Egypt.

The travelers left behind thousands of inscriptions depicting hunting, wildlife, plants, symbols, and tools in dozens of ancient scripts including Musnad, Aramaic-Nabatean, South-Arabian, Thamudic, Greek, and Arabic.

The location is also home to several wells that date back at least 3,000 years and still produce fresh water.

The preservation and protection of the Kingdom’s cultural and natural heritage is a key part of the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision – a reform plan put forth by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy.

“We are working to preserve the area and conduct research to further understand the rock inscriptions, and are looking forward to welcoming more local and international visitors to come and see this historic cultural site for themselves,” al-Herbish added.

Rock inscriptions in Hima Cultural Area, Saudi Arabia. (Twitter)
Rock inscriptions in Hima Cultural Area, Saudi Arabia. (Twitter)

Overseen by the Heritage Commission, several new discoveries have cemented the country’s reputation as a go-to destination for archeologists, historians, and scientists looking to understand human history across the region, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Last year, the Commission announced one of the Kingdom’s most ground-breaking discoveries in Tabuk – ancient human and animal footprints that date back more than 120,000 years, marking the first evidence of human life on the Arabian Peninsula.

“Behind every cultural achievement is the guidance and vision of a great leader. Thank you to our inspiration, His Highness, the Crown Prince, for his constant support, and thanks go to my colleagues [The Heritage Commission], In the National Committee for Education, Culture and Science and in [The Ministry of Culture and in the [Permanent Delegation of the Kingdom to UNESCO] for their efforts and excellence,” the Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan said.

Prince Badr thanked Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait for their support, adding that “our country is rich in human heritage sites, and the future is always more beautiful.”

He also thanked Egypt for always adhering to principles of Arab cooperation at every cultural forum.

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