Abu Dhabi: Saudi Arabia’s Haima Cultural District, a Najran area that contains substantial collection of rock art images depicting hunting, fauna, flora and lifestyles in a cultural continuity of 7,000 years, has been included among the Unesco World Heritage Sites, the UN Cultural Organisation announced on Saturday.
For centuries, travellers and armies have left rock inscriptions on the site, most of which are preserved in pristine condition, said Unesco. It is located at the oldest known toll station on an important ancient desert caravan route where centuries-old wells still produce fresh water.
The Hima region contains more than 34 sites, among the petroglyphs and wells along this route of ancient Arab caravans, according to the Unesco.
Expeditions have proven that the history of the site extends from the seventh millennium BC to the first millennium BC, Unesco said.
“New UNESCO World Heritage Site: Haima Cultural District, Saudi Arabia. Mabrouk! (Arabic for congratulations!)” Unesco added.
Prince Badr Bin Abdullah, Saudi Minister of Culture, welcomed the inclusion of the sixth site of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the World Heritage List.
The Kingdom is rich in heritage important to human civilisations, and the efforts had paid off in introducing it to the world, he said, quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency.
Haima, one of the world’s largest rock art sites, covers an area of 557 square kilometres and includes 550 rock paintings containing “tens of thousands” of inscriptions in many ancient scriptures, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
The site included one of the main markets on the peninsula, and its wells, the last water point on the northern road or the first on the southern road after crossing the desert, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
Saudi Arabia announced in 2019 that it will grant tourist visas for the first time in the country that has until now been open to businessmen and pilgrims visiting the cities of Makkah and Madinah; These two cities remain designated for Muslims only.
Other 5 Saudi cultural sites on World heritage List
• Al Ahsa Oasis, an Evolving Cultural Landscape (2018)
• Rock Art in the Hail Region of Saudi Arabia (2015)
• Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah (2014)
• At-Turaif District in ad-Dir’iyah (2010)
• Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih) (2008)