Historic Jeddah mosques to get facelift
17 November 2011
By FATIMA SIDIYA - ARAB NEWS - JEDDAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has approved the restoration of two historic mosques in Jeddah, Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, said on Wednesday.
He said Al-Shafi and Al-Mimar mosques would be refurbished after he visited the city’s historical area.
When asked about the delay by UNESCO to consider the area a heritage site, he replied: “The UNESCO issue has been discussed much more than it deserves. It is not a difficult issue. When we work in the right way, Jeddah’s historical area will remain historic whether it is registered with UNESCO or not.”
He said the SCTA is working intensively with four specialists from UNESCO to try and register Jeddah as a world heritage site within two years.
Jeddah Mayor Hani Abu Ras said the city is a “valued jewel that needs to be protected.” He added that they have started a number of restoration projects in the historical area with special focus on the market district. Abu Ras said starting from next year they would initiate new projects in the area that include lighting, road paving and fire safety projects.
Prince Sultan said the Jeddah historical area will get the facelift without any delays.
“I am quite sure about the future of the area and convinced that the projects will be implemented. I will be happy when I see citizens and property owners are happy as well.”
Prince Sultan said the commission was working on the restoration of 12 sites in cooperation with different governorates, municipalities and concerned bodies. Some of these areas host projects that are in their final stages. Prince Sultan also highlighted the increasing interest in heritage among youth.
Prince Sultan visited a number of historic buildings in Jeddah and met officials from the city’s municipality at Bait Naseef in Balad. These officials are in charge of the project for developing the area.
The prince then attended a number of events as part of the National Built Heritage Forum including those focusing on the restoration of Jeddah’s historic buildings, an art exhibition, and other cultural activities.
Meanwhile, Prince Sultan signed an agreement with Dean of Umm Al-Qura University Bakri bin Ma’atouq for cooperation in human resources development and conducting research in the field of tourism and antiquities in Makkah province.
Under the agreement Umm Al-Qura students will put in 3,000 work hours for the SCTA. The students will be trained by getting them to shadow commission teams working in the development field.