When we met with the Emir Sultan Bin Selman, president of the Antiquities and Tourism authority, in Al-Diriyah, we asked him about the Old Jeddah. We met as scheduled and he took us on a tour in the old Jeddah, starting with one of the most important places in ancient city’s history: Beit Nassif.
“This is probably the only archeological site on the Red Sea shore. We want to revitalize this site in Jeddah,” said Emir Sultan Bin Selman.
From Beit Nassif, where King Abdul Aziz resided during his first entry to Jeddah in the battle for the Unification of Saudi Arabia, we moved on to visit other historical sites, but a small sign caught the Emir’s attention:
“You need to see this sign; it is part of the citizen training program to preserve and conserve the heritage sites,” the Emir said on preserving their culture.
“We restored 20 sites in the kingdom and we want to bring the people closer to their heritage,” he added.
The sign’s project diverted our tour when we met a group of young people participating in the restoration process and the Emir Sultan forgot the plan we agreed on and joined the group.
The sudden meeting with the Emir was not only a stroke of luck for these young men, but it also opened for them the door of an unexpected opportunity.
“You know what, you need to establish a company and we will finance and support you until the end of the project,” the Emir explained.
It seems that the Emir Sultan was so pleased by this conversation that he forgot about the tour he had promised us.
“This is the best thing that happened today,” said the Emir.
The Emir went back to his car in the market place in front of Beit Nassif, forgetting about completing the tour in the sites of the old Jeddah. He turned to the town’s residents “without whom, any restoration of the town is incomplete and meaningless”, as the Emir proudly said.
Translated from Arabic by: Stanela Khalil
Voice: Nadia Idriss Mayen and Harry Hughes-D'Aeth