By The Arab News
THE FIVE HISTORIC SITES INSCRIBED ON UNESCO’S WORLD HERITAGE LIST TELL A STORY OF UNIVERSAL IMPORTANCE
One of the objectives of the increasingly outward-looking nation of Saudi Arabia, set out in the ambitious Vision 2030 document and its plan to create a more diverse and sustainable economy, is to open up the Kingdom to visitors as a destination for heritage tourism.
Among the attractions long closed off to much of the world are many hundreds of historic sites.
Some date back to prehistory and comprise key chapters in the story of humankind’s evolution and migration out of Africa. The twin rock art complexes of the Hail region, parts of which are 10,000 years old, are “among the most fascinating and largest rock art sites of the world.”
Others provide mute evidence of the transformation of the Arabian Peninsula over millennia from a lush haven of greenery, lakes and rivers to a largely arid landscape.
Even as the world is facing accelerating climate change on a scale never witnessed before, these sites tell the extraordinary and timely story of how human beings have adapted to changing circumstances with determination and ingenuity.
Some of these sites were known to ancient Greek and Roman historians or to travelers in the 18th and 19th centuries. Others have been studied extensively by modern scholars and archaeologists from Saudi Arabia and around the world.