Rijal Alma: Saudi village with a long history prepares for international exposure

Tue, 2018-10-30 22:56

RIYADH: The village of Rijal Alma has finalized its submission
for the UNESCO’s World Heritage List and is now awaiting the
arrival of experts from the UN International Organization for
Culture, Arts and Heritage.
The importance of the historical and archaeological village lies in
its cultural depth and prominence in trade and architectural arts,
represented in tall fortresses that combine beauty and expertise.
The space is exploited in a remarkable way, where eight blocks rise
on a small surface, forming a united bloc with various fluctuating
heights, reaching six floors at times, meticulously decorated from
the inside and the outside.
Visitors can reach the village of Rijal via several roads, the most
important of which is Aqabat Sama, linking Abha and Rijal Alma
through the famous tourist Sawda Center in Saudi Arabia. There are
also two other roads leading to Rijal, linking it to the province
of Muhayil Asir and the Hobail leading to Ad-Darb province in the
Jazan region.
The researcher Mohammed Hassan Gharib wrote about the history of
the village and its development. He pointed out that “the
evidence of civilization is depicted in buildings, roads, reserves,
agricultural planning, wells, crowded cemeteries and in what has
been revealed in terms of underground houses in valleys and coal in
one of the 30-meter-deep wells dating back to 1375 AH in the
neighborhood of Asla. This gives definitive indications of
settlement and human presence in the village before the 10th Hijri
century and depicts the stages of growth and prosperity.”
Gharib confirmed that the old commercial dimension of the village
was the most famous in the region: “The traders in this region
reached far regions and the sailboats that they used to rent to
transport goods from Aden, Hodeidah and Habashah (Ethiopia)
remained in the Red Sea, loaded with products and goods they bought
from these areas, which made them an important economic power.”
He added that the Rijal village has remained for a period of time,
the destination for traveling traders coming from the ports of the
Red Sea, especially from its local and foreign trade centers, and
it also remained the favorite destination for those coming from
Jeddah, Qunfudah and Qahma, Jazan, Hodeidah, Aden, and some of the
east coast countries on the African continent like Djibouti,
Massawa and Ethiopia.
Gharib said that the goods sold in the shops of the village at that
time were Indian, Egyptian, Yemeni, European and African
commodities. They even used to sell products from East Asia, such
as from Japan and China. Some of them used to mix many trades
together, such as food, grains, household items, spices, perfumes,
jewelry and others.
The Rijal village has undergone various stages of development
including an open theater that extends over an area of 615 square
meters, and can accommodate about 1,000 people.
Documenting the heritage of the Alma province started while
establishing one of the oldest museums in the Kingdom: The “Alma
Museum of Heritage” in 1985, in one of the fortresses of the
village. This museum has 2,800 pieces distributed in 12 rooms, each
devoted for a particular type of heritage such as agricultural
tools, clothes, jewels, old cooking utensils and accessories,
ancient education tools and many other aspects related to ancient
life, in addition to some rare manuscripts.
Gharib said: “The museum was created in 1405 AH upon the
initiative of the people of the province to preserve the heritage
of the region. Al-Alwan fort was chosen to be renovated in the
Rijal village and it is one of the largest fortresses. The
villagers in Rijal collected old artifacts donated by the people,
and women in the village have also contributed to this work, under
the supervision of Alma artist Fatima Ali Abu Qahas. Many women
donated their old jewelry and adornments. The work at the museum
was completed and then inaugurated by Prince Khaled in Asir in 1407
AH. The museum has become a cultural touristic hub since

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Mountain village of Rijal Alma, south of Saudi Arabia, ready to
take global tourism limelightSaudi village of Rijal Alma prepares
to join UNESCO World Heritage List
Source: FS – All-Travel destinations-News
Rijal Alma: Saudi village with a long history prepares for international exposure