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SCT Plans Islamic Heritage Museum
P.K. Abdul Ghafour, Arab News —


JEDDAH, 25 April 2008 — Prince Sultan bin Salman, secretary-general of the Supreme Commission for Tourism (SCT), announced plans to establish an Islamic heritage museum in Makkah and a Qur’an museum in Madinah.

He said the two museums would be established in cooperation with the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. The project is significant as it targets nearly 10 million foreign pilgrims who visit the Kingdom every year to perform Haj and Umrah.

“We’ll establish six new museums in different regions this year and renovate 12 others,” the SCT chief said. He also disclosed plans to establish a large museum in Jeddah, which attracts more than two million tourists and visitors annually.

The Jeddah museum will be located at Khozam Palace, Prince Sultan said, adding that it would be similar to the National Museum in Riyadh.

Prince Sultan said the Kingdom’s heritage and museum sector would witness tremendous development in the coming years with the issuance of a new law regulating its activities.

He also spoke about excavations in association with foreign geological missions in various parts of the Kingdom. A German team is currently conducting digging works in Taima with the support of Saudi teams. “We have plans to renovate the Taima Museum as well as a number of other museums, historical sites and palaces,” the prince said. He recently inspected archaeological sites in Taima, 260 km east of Tabuk.

The SCT has started a new program to promote tourist villages in five regions of the country. It also intends to build a series of heritage hotels making use of heritage palaces and historical sites in various parts of the Kingdom.

“We are conducting a feasibility study on heritage hotels in association with the Finance Ministry and the Public Investment Fund,” he explained.

Prince Sultan referred to challenges in preserving heritage sites in the country. “Preservation cannot be achieved without the cooperation of other government agencies, especially municipalities, and the citizens. We also need more financial and human resources for this purpose,” he added.

The SCT has set out a five-year strategy for the development of antiquities and museums across the country.

Prince Sultan said the commission was reviewing offers made by developers to implement the Al-Oqair tourism project in Al-Ahsa, which is expected to become one of the major tourist centers in the Kingdom. He also disclosed plans to establish another major tourist destination on the Red Sea in the next few months.

“Al-Oqair is one of SCT’s major projects aimed at developing large-scale tourist destinations in various parts of the country,” the prince said. 

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