UN tourism body hails new law to protect Saudi heritage

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The United Nation's tourism unit has hailed new Saudi Arabian legislation aimed at protecting the country’s antiquities and heritage.

The new law, which will also give the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) the mandate to ensure the preservation, has been applauded by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

It said in a statement that heritage conservation is today fundamental to safeguard cultural legacy but also to promote and preserve key tourism assets which are central to differentiating destinations all around the world.

UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, congratulated Saudi Arabia for adopting legal mechanisms for the protection of its historical sites, contributing to ensure that tourism and culture continue to develop to the benefit of both.

“Cultural tourism – the movement of travellers motivated by the mosaic of art forms, heritage sites, festivals, traditions, and pilgrimages – is growing at an unprecedented rate," he said.

"These is positive news as the nexus between culture and tourism translates into important income generation for destinations but also for conservation, and such growth needs to be managed in a responsible and sustainable manner through adequate public policies and legislation”, he added.

The Saudi law on antiquities, museums and built heritage approval coincided with the recent inclusion of the Jeddah Historical Area in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, recognising the old city’s cultural value and unique model with its distinguished urban heritage.

Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah, was among the 26 new inscriptions decided at the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee of the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), held in Qatar last month.

“UNESCO’s decision highlights the kingdom’s historical position and its rich heritage and shows the depth of the kingdom’s culture and interaction with human civilizations throughout the centuries,” said Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of SCTA.

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