An old building in Jeddah's heritage center. (AN Photo)
JEDDAH: P.K. ABDUL GHAFOUR
The Council of Ministers on Monday applauded UNESCO's decision to include the Jeddah historical area among the world heritage sites.
The UNESCO panel took the landmark decision on Saturday.
The Cabinet also appreciated the efforts undertaken by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) under the leadership of its president, Prince Sultan bin Salman, to get the nomination approved by the international body.
"The world heritage committee approved the admission of the Jeddah historical area considering its cultural value and architectural distinction," said the Cabinet, which was chaired by Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense.
"It is an important national landmark," the Cabinet said, while praising the efforts being made by SCTA to develop and renovate the region in cooperation with the Jeddah Municipality as part of the King Abdullah Project for Care of Cultural Heritage.
The area, a part of the Balad district, is known for its historical past, distinguished planning and unique architecture. It contains many historic landmarks and buildings, such as the old Jeddah's wall and gates and the old quarters, including Al-Mazloom, Al-Sham, Al-Yaman, and Al-Bahar.
There are several historical mosques named after Uthman Ibn Affan, Al-Shafie, Al-Basha, Ukash, AI-Meamar and Al-Hanafi. The region also houses severeal old souqs, such as Al-Nada, AI-Khasequiyyah, Al-Alawi and Al-Saghah, and a large number of heritage buildings.
"UNESCO's decision highlights the Kingdom's historical position and its rich heritage. The inclusion of another site to the UNESCO heritage sites shows the depth of the Kingdom's culture and interaction with human civilizations throughout the centuries," said Prince Sultan.
UNESCO's decision represents part of the comprehensive initiative taken under the King Abdullah Project, he said. He commended the great efforts made by Makkah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Abdullah and former governors Prince Majed, Prince Abdul Majeed and Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, as well as Jeddah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Majed, for their efforts to develop the region and get it included in the UNESCO list of heritage sites.
Prince Sultan asserted that the inclusion of Jeddah and before that, Madain Saleh and Direya, represents global recognition of the importance of the Kingdom's historical sites.