18 Muharram 1446 - 24 July 2024
Sign up for newsletter
Eye of Riyadh
Business & Money | Wednesday 3 April, 2024 1:27 am |


The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) and Henan Provincial Cultural Heritage Administration have signed a strategic partnership on cultural collaboration and heritage preservation as RCU builds its global partnership network and deepens Saudi ties with China.


The cultural collaboration agreement will leverage shared knowledge and resources with a focus on archaeology; cultural heritage preservation; museums; research collaboration and talent development; and tourism and other cultural exchanges. 


Prospective areas of collaboration between RCU and Henan include:


  • Establish a technology-oriented archaeological laboratory, conduct excavation activities, and carry out research activities in archaeology;
  • Build connections between AlUla and Henan heritage sites; 
  • Carry out joint exchange, education and talent development programmes;
  • Collaborate on exhibitions, arts and culture events, and museum technologies such as VR and AR;
  • Develop a centre of knowledge across heritage preservation technology, archaeological technology, and museum curation.

This strategic partnership comes to life based on the Ministry of Culture agreement with China to enhance cooperation between the parties in the field of culture with a key focus on the cooperation in cultural projects across AlUla.


Abeer Al Akel, Acting CEO of RCU, said: “RCU is actively realising its partnership strategy through its Henan Province agreement, anchored in a shared dedication to preserving cultural heritage and cultivating a knowledge hub to drive best practices and fortify the relationship between Saudi Arabia and China. AlUla's legacy as a crossroads and crucible of civilisations, knowledge and inspiration is conserved, enriched and continued through cooperation with Henan.”


AlUla County and Henan province are both home to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with a shared legacy as capitals of ancient empires. 


More than a hundred thousand visitors flocked to AlUla in 2023 to visit Hegra, site of monumental tombs built by the ancient Nabataean civilisation and Saudi’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jabal Ikmah, an open-air museum of 450 historically significant carved inscriptions dating from the second half of the first millennium BCE, has been inscribed into UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, while ancient tools have been unearthed by archaeologists working in the protected wadis of the Harrat Uwayrid Biosphere Reserve.


With a population of roughly 100 million, Henan is China's third-most populous province. It is also one of China’s most historically and culturally significant regions. It boasts UNESCO World Heritage Sites including Yinxu, the ruins of an ancient capital and the source of some of the earliest examples of Chinese writing, and the Longmen Caves, home to stunning rock relief sculptures. 


Supporting the growing ecosystem of cooperation and connectivity between Saudi and Chinese partners, AlUla has also been announced as a founding member of the International Alliance of Silk Road Cities. 


Established with the aim of building long-term collaboration and knowledge exchange between cities of major touristic, historic, and cultural significance in China and abroad, the Alliance is co-sponsored by the Chinese and Foreign Cultural Exchange Center of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. 


AlUla joins 58 cities in 26 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, America, and other regions as founding members of the Alliance.


As such, AlUla will participate in international forums, delegations, and events to promote sustainable tourism and development in northwest Arabia as well as amongst fellow member cities.


While diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and China weren’t established until 1990, the historical relationship goes back to the sea routes of the Silk Road, which facilitated the exchange of goods and ideas for centuries. China became Saudi Arabia’s top trading partner in 2013, and this economic interdependence laid the groundwork for deeper cooperation. Saudi Arabia is a key collaborator in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a global infrastructure strategy that aims to enhance connectivity and economic cooperation across regions. The two countries signed the bilateral Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement in January 2016.


Under the name of ‘AlUla, Wonder of Arabia’, an exhibition of 236 archaeological artefacts draws crowds at the Palace Museum in Beijing's Forbidden City UNESCO World Heritage site. 


A major cross-cultural event, ‘AlUla, Wonder of Arabia’ has so far attracted around 250,000 visitors. Numbers are expected to rise even higher in the coming weeks with the free exhibit’s showcase at the Palace Museum now officially extended to April 11.


Since RCU was formed by Royal Decree in 2017, its dedicated approach to developing a network of international partners and inviting sustained investment in AlUla's comprehensive regeneration has seen deep rooted and successful relationships forged with important cultural entities, particularly from France and Italy. These have led the creation of expansive, and sustainable ties across diverse sectors such as heritage conservation, tourism development and the celebration and protection of shared traditions and heritage. 


Building on the KSA-China relations, these announcements further strengthen the ties between the two countries and underscore the commitment to mutual cultural exchange and preservation.




Post Your Comment