International Literary Experts Discuss Heritage Preservation at Saudi Book Fair

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RIYADH: Literary experts from around the world have gathered in Saudi Arabia to help further cement the Kingdom’s position on the world heritage map.

Writers, publishers and translators are among the delegates taking part in events and discussion sessions organized under the auspices of the Riyadh International Book Fair, which takes place at the Riyadh Front until October 8.

The fair’s program includes dialogue platforms, interactive lectures and workshops on art, reading, writing, publishing, bookmaking and translation.

Director General of the Commission for Literature, Publishing and Translation, Dr. Mohammed Alwan, said the event made a significant contribution to the Saudi literary scene and played a leading role in the revival literature, culture, science and the arts in the Kingdom.

He described the fair as a cultural bridge to understanding others and as a major contributor to the national cultural movement.

The fifth day of the gathering saw six panel discussions, one titled “Saudi Arabia on the World Heritage Map”.

Saudi archaeological discoveries have recently attracted international attention and experts have taken the stage to talk about the future capabilities of the Kingdom, its components and its growing status as a world leader in heritage preservation.

The fifth day of the gathering witnessed six panel discussions, one titled “Saudi Arabia on the World Heritage Map”. Speakers discussed how heritage could improve Saudi Arabia’s cultural and economic position. (A photo by Huda Bashatah)

Ibrahim Aglan, a professor-researcher at the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, said culture had many facets. “It’s a way of life, a way to improve the Kingdom’s international position and economic prosperity.”

Acting Director General of the Saudi Heritage Preservation Society, Rehaf Gassas, said: “The society is considered a branch of government bodies and agencies responsible for preserving heritage and implementing specialized projects in this field.

“Whatever we do on our side as researchers, the community remains the sole owner of the heritage, knowing how it has circulated and changed from one generation to another, and how it is practiced.

The Director General of Intangible Heritage of the Saudi Ministry of Culture, Ebtisam Al-Wehaibi, told delegates that the ultimate goal was communication between people.

She said, “It’s amazing that we can learn about other people’s cultures and heritage and create a dialogue; that instead of looking for differences, you are looking for similarities.

Al-Wehaibi noted that Saudi Arabia was among 20 countries that came together after World War II to create the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

“In 2020, the Kingdom joined UNESCO’s executive council and the World Heritage Committee,” she added.


A workshop was organized on the role of law in the protection of cultural heritage by Dr. Muhammad Al-Sudais, Professor of Law at Al-Yamamah University, who spoke about the laws and the penalties imposed on anyone who tries to harm to heritage. (A photo by Huda Bashatah)

Meanwhile, a workshop led by Al-Yamamah University law professor Dr. Muhammad Al-Sudais examined the role of law in protecting cultural heritage.

He said, “As far as the legal aspect is concerned, the Kingdom has presented a marvelous model in heritage preservation.” And he pointed out that in recent years, the Ministry of Culture has introduced a series of rules and regulations related to antiquities, museums and urban heritage.

Al-Sudais noted that the Saudi Heritage Commission had added the 70-year-old Trans-Arabian Oil Pipeline (Tapline), built during the reign of King Abdulaziz, to the national register of industrial heritage, adding that the Kingdom’s urban heritage register provided an important source of information for research centres.

“The Kingdom is very interested in excavating antiquities and preventing the granting of licenses except to authorities designated by the system.

“He also clarified that it is not permitted for any person, citizen or not, to sell antiquities and engage in any activity related to the import and export of antiquities without obtaining a license from the commission,” Al-Sudais said.

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