Jeddah Heritage Festival kicks off at Balad tonight

The state’s attention toward the historic area continued during the reign of the current Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah

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A 10-day cultural extravaganza that incorporates Jeddah’s historical sites and cultural hubs of yesteryears starts on Thursday night. The first of its kind Jeddah Heritage Festival will feature plenty of cultural and entertaining programs based on Hijazi heritage in the old Balad area.

This festival is organized by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) and the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry under the support of Makkah Emir Prince Mishal Bin Abdullah.

Prince Sultan Bin Salman, head of the SCTA, described the festival as a turning point for cultural heritage in the Kingdom.

He said the event was an extension of the great attention shown to national heritage since it is considered a key component of the Saudi national identity and also the great support for national tourism as a key economic sector.

The government is focusing on the development of these important sectors, he said.

Prince Sultan praised the support of Prince Mishal, Jeddah Governor Prince Mishal Bin Majed and Jeddah Mayor Hani Aburas for the event.

Zaki Hassanien, CEO of Benchmark and organizer of the event, said the festival would be inaugurated at 9 p.m. in Balad.

The ceremony include fireworks, a laser show and Hijazi performances by artists from Jeddah.

Hassanien said the main aim of the festival was to help visitors discover the history of Jeddah culture.

He said: “We are planning to create awareness and educate people, including the younger generations, on the Hijazi’s rich heritage.

“The festival consists of a series of performances and arranged activities, including 46 traditional, cultural and educational activities.

“Comedy plays, standup comedy and folk dance shows will also be organized across various sites in Balad to entertain visitors and guests as we showcase the old life in Hijaz from many years ago.”

According to the SCTA, the Jeddah historical area has enjoyed great attention by the founder King Abdulaziz, who in 1925 used Bait Naseef as his dwelling for 10 years.

He used a location near Al-Hanafi Mosque nearby as a prayer place. The attention toward the historic area did not stop but continued during the reigns of King Saud and King Faisal, who established different types of service networks and public departments and facilities.

The first antiquities regulation was implemented in 1972, providing special protection to the historical area.

During the reigns of King Khalid and King Fahd, the state executed a number of projects, including a SR80 million initiative to pave and illuminate the historical area in a manner that befitted its historic value and preserved its old buildings and urban heritage.

The state’s attention toward the historic area continued during the reign of the current Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.

He created the Supreme Committee for the Development of the Jeddah Historic Area under the chairmanship of Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, former emir of Makkah, and the vice chairmanship of Prince Sultan Bin Salman.

They formed an executive committee under the chairmanship of Prince Mishal Bin Majed and Aburas.

The committees’ aim is to preserve and develop the historical area and transform it into an attractive urban district while preserving its cultural and heritage.

This article was first published by The Saudi Gazette on jan 16, 2014.

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