JEDDAH: Archaeology has picked up tremendous pace over the past five years in the Kingdom, with the support of foreign missions and the Saudi Heritage Commission, a Saudi archaeologist told Arab News.
“Archaeology was always around in Saudi Arabia as King Saud University has done great work in excavations and research, but what is different now I would say is the awareness that is being spread about the previous and current works,” said Riyadh-based Hassa Marwaan Al-Sudairy.
“We have announced several ground-breaking archaeological discoveries and there are many hidden treasures that have yet to be discovered,” she said.
One of the hidden gems of the Kingdom that Al-Sudairy believes people should know about is “Dumat Al-Jandal, which was the capital of Qedar Kingdom in Al-Jouf region about 740 BC. It was ruled by an Arab Queen Zabibe and Queen Samsi, it is a gem for sure. Many civilizations lived there, such as Assyrian, Nabatean and Islamic history.”
Al-Sudairy also said that more than 70 percent of antiquities in Saudi Arabia have not been discovered as Saudi Arabia is dotted with the traces of people who migrated from pre-historic times to the region, in addition to the many civilizations, kingdoms and trading routes that existed here.
“To learn more about its ancient past, Saudi Arabia is conducting projects using helicopter aerial survey, ground survey and excavation,” she said.
“Our archaeological collaboration with other nations is an extension of the long-standing cultural relationship, and is built on our mutual commitment to historical preservation and knowledge-sharing.
“Recently, archaeology projects in Saudi Arabia have helped shed light on the civilizations and centuries-old history of the Kingdom,” she said.
The Saudi Heritage Commission recently launched a project in partnership with King Abdulaziz University and the University of Naples in Italy to conduct a vast underwater survey in the Red Sea.
Working with other nations in archaeology has been a great experience for Al-Sudairy. “You get to learn from their experiences, exchange culture and see things differently from their point of view,” said Al-Sudairy, who was fascinated by ancient civilizations as a child and enjoyed visiting museums and archaeological sites with her mother.
Saudi Arabia has all the tools to become a global leader in archaeology, she said.
Al-Sudairy, who is a research archaeologist with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Jordan and a master’s degree in tourism from Berlin School of Business and Innovation, has participated in several archaeological excavations and prepared a number of research papers for international missions in Jordan.
“I found it very interesting and decided to pursue a career in archaeology. The treasures gifted to us by our forefathers needed to be protected,” Al-Sudairy said.
The passionate archaeologist hopes to simplify the language of archaeology, make it accessible and enjoyable for readers, which would help promote tourism in the Kingdom.
She recently published a study, “Winter at Tantora in AlUla,” in which she focused on the importance of tourism and hospitality sectors in light of Vision 2030.
Al-Sudairy said that AlUla aims to attract two million tourists and create 38,000 new job opportunities for locals by 2030.