Saudi Arabia commits $25 million to UNESCO for heritage preservation

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Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud and the Director-General of UNESCO have signed a letter of intent formalizing the Kingdom’s commitment to contribute $25 million to UNESCO strategy and actions for the preservation of heritage.

“In support of the Kingdom’s partnership with UNESCO and its efforts to preserve world heritage, I’ve signed a letter of intent with Audrey Azoulay to support the organization's strategic conservation programs,” Prince Badr said in a tweet on Tuesday.

According to UNESCO, the commitment will cover areas including digital technologies, sustainable cultural tourism, the safeguarding of traditional building techniques, the preservation of World Heritage sites and the promotion of creative economies.

“Activities will contribute to the advancement of UNESCO’s priority programs as well as to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda,” UNESCO said on its official website.

Heritage sites in the Kingdom

The ancient city of Mada’in Saleh is Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Also known as Al-Hijr and Hegra, it was the principal southern city of the Nabataean Kingdom and is comprised of more than 100 well-preserved tombs with elaborate facades cut out of sandstone outcrops surrounding the walled urban settlement.

In June 2018, the Kingdom’s al-Ahsa oasis was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Al-Ahsa oasis is the largest governorate in eastern Saudi Arabia, representing 20 percent of the Kingdom’s area - and home to many historical sites left behind by ancient civilizations.

Al-Ahsa's rich historical sites include the Jawatha Mosque where the second Friday congregation prayer in Islam was offered, the al-Qaisarya Souk (the oldest in the Arabian Gulf), and the Turkish military barracks in Ebrahim Palace, as well as the caves and hills of Jabal al-Qara and the historic port of al-Aqeer.

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