Four Tombs Discovered in Roman Necropolis in Gaza

The discovery marks the first complete Roman necropolis, or cemetery, fully unearthed in Gaza © MAHMUD HAMS / AFP
The discovery marks the first complete Roman necropolis, or cemetery, fully unearthed in Gaza © MAHMUD HAMS / AFP
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Four Tombs Discovered in Roman Necropolis in Gaza

The discovery marks the first complete Roman necropolis, or cemetery, fully unearthed in Gaza © MAHMUD HAMS / AFP
The discovery marks the first complete Roman necropolis, or cemetery, fully unearthed in Gaza © MAHMUD HAMS / AFP

Four Roman tombs dating back 2,000 years have been discovered in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian archaeologist said Saturday, bemoaning a lack of resources that has delayed excavations in the besieged territory.

"With the discovery of these four tombs, the total number of tombs in this Roman cemetery, dating from the period between the first century BC and the second century AD, now stands at 134 tombs," said archaeologist Fadel Al-Otol.

The discovery marks the first complete Roman necropolis, or cemetery, fully unearthed in Gaza, he told AFP.

"Fragments of pottery and metal pieces used in funeral rituals" have been found in the resting places, added Otol.

The cemetery is notable for its pyramid-shaped tombs. Inside them, a team of technicians, working under the direction of Otol, undertake restoration work using rudimentary tools.

"Two lead coffins, one adorned with clusters of grapes and the other with dolphins swimming in water, were recently discovered on the site," noted the Palestinian archaeologist, who lamented a lack of financial resources.

The funding for the excavation and restoration work comes from the British Council's Fund for the Protection of Culture.

 

 



Culture Ministry Launches ‘1727’ Competition to Mark Saudi Founding Day

The Ministry of Culture
The Ministry of Culture
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Culture Ministry Launches ‘1727’ Competition to Mark Saudi Founding Day

The Ministry of Culture
The Ministry of Culture

The Ministry of Culture has announced the launch of the ‘1727’ competition, featuring a prize pool of 100,000 Saudi riyals on the occasion of Saudi Founding Day.

The competition, open to the general public, started Thursday and will run through Saturday. It entails a series of questions related to the establishment of the Saudi state by Imam Muhammad bin Saud in 1727 AD.

Participants will encounter eight diverse questions divided into four phases, with two questions per phase, focusing on the cultural and historical aspects of Founding Day.

Participants who correctly answer all questions, progressing through all phases, will qualify for a prize draw. Randomly, 100 winners will be chosen, each receiving 1,000 Saudi Riyals.

The competition is part of numerous activities and events presented by the Ministry of Culture to commemorate Founding Day, a source of immense pride for all Saudis. These events aim to engage all segments of society throughout the Kingdom.


Saudi Arabia Unveils Exhibition Exploring Diriyah’s Natural and Built Landscapes

The exhibition combines historical remnants and archaeological objects to offer a wider lens into Diriyah and At-Turaif. SPA
The exhibition combines historical remnants and archaeological objects to offer a wider lens into Diriyah and At-Turaif. SPA
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Saudi Arabia Unveils Exhibition Exploring Diriyah’s Natural and Built Landscapes

The exhibition combines historical remnants and archaeological objects to offer a wider lens into Diriyah and At-Turaif. SPA
The exhibition combines historical remnants and archaeological objects to offer a wider lens into Diriyah and At-Turaif. SPA

“The Earthen Testaments,” a multidisciplinary exhibition exploring Diriyah’s natural and built landscapes through imagery, film, artifacts, and contemporary artworks commissioned from Saudi artists, has opened at Ségur Hall, UNESCO House, in Paris.

The exhibition combines historical remnants and archaeological objects to offer a wider lens into Diriyah and the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site of At-Turaif, the center of government of the First Saudi State and the ancestral home of the Saudi Royal family. Presented by the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, the exhibition will be on view February 22 to 29.

“We are thrilled to host this exhibition on the rich heritage of Diriyah and At-Turaif, its UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our collaboration is vital to our mission to protect cultural heritage sites and to bring their archaeological significance to life—not only for the Saudi people but also for the international community,” said Fahad bin Maayouf Al Ruwaily, the Saudi ambassador to France and Monaco and interim permanent delegate of the Kingdom to UNESCO.

“The Earthen Testaments presents, through the visionary work of contemporary Saudi artists, a window into the world of Diriyah and At-Turaif. For this enriching cultural exchange, we extend our sincere gratitude.”

According to Diriyah Gate Development Authority CEO Jerry Inzerillo, “As a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Kingdom, At-Turaif represents the birthplace and gateway to Saudi Arabia, and it is a privilege and great responsibility to share Diriyah’s stories, values, culture, art, and heritage with the world through this exhibition.”

The historical city of Diriyah, birthplace of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia situated along Wadi Hanifah, has been redefined as a thriving, vibrant center of culture, history, heritage, and knowledge that celebrates its storied landscape, history, heritage, and symbolic monuments.

The unique characteristics of the site have contributed to its status as a natural, cultural, and national landmark, with the UNESCO World Heritage Site of At-Turaif at its heart. The earthen structures of At-Turaif, a UNESCO site since 2010, stand today as a symbol of the heritage, traditions, values, and material forms that define Najdi culture and heritage.

The exhibition combines historical remnants and archaeological objects with contemporary responses from various Saudi artists, offering a wider lens into Diriyah’s heritage and values through material traces. Artwork and film are juxtaposed with a selection of material excerpts, archival images, historical maps, poetry, and an interview with a descendent of the master builder of At-Turaif.

Numerous elements immerse visitors in the unique properties of At-Turaif and its intimate link between landscape, natural resources, and the history of place. The Earthen Testaments presents a glimpse into the story of this historical city and its people through an exploration of its materials.
The exhibition combines archeological fragments, archival photographs, film, poetry, and artwork by Saudi artists Rasha AlRashed (b.1985), Omar Abduljawad (b.1989), Ali AlSumayin and the collective Bricklab (Est. 2015).

In addition, the artisan Abdullah AlSayegh and the perfumer Bader AlHarqan have crafted a Diriyah-inspired giveaway. Visitors will be able to trace the material as witness to the stories of the Wadi and the archeological structures of the sites and experience the tangible and intangible heritage of the area, stepping into a site that stands today as the gateway to the establishment of the story of Saudi Arabia today.


Cultural Events Celebrate Saudi Arabia’s Founding Day

The events recall the story of the Kingdom's founding by Imam Mohammed bin Saud in 1727. (Saudi Ministry of Culture)
The events recall the story of the Kingdom's founding by Imam Mohammed bin Saud in 1727. (Saudi Ministry of Culture)
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Cultural Events Celebrate Saudi Arabia’s Founding Day

The events recall the story of the Kingdom's founding by Imam Mohammed bin Saud in 1727. (Saudi Ministry of Culture)
The events recall the story of the Kingdom's founding by Imam Mohammed bin Saud in 1727. (Saudi Ministry of Culture)

The Saudi Ministry of Culture inaugurated on Thursday several events to commemorate the Kingdom's Founding Day, including music concerts that celebrate Saudi Arabia and the early days of its founding.

The events recall the story of the Kingdom's founding by Imam Mohammed bin Saud in 1727 and the heroics that helped build a stable and prosperous country on unified political foundations.

"Founding Nights", which concludes on Friday, features music and poetry that transport the audience on a journey through time to celebrate the Kingdom’s history. It brings together several poets and artists, who will sing popular songs that have resonated with the people for years.

The event was kicked off by artists Fuad Abelwahed and Abdullah al-Mana, who sang a number of national songs. The event also featured poetry readings by Saeed bin Mane and Fahad al-Shahrani.

The second night featured concerts by Majid al-Muhandis and Dalia Mubarak, who sang national songs that captivated the audience. It also included more poetry readings, featuring Suleiman al-Maneh and Abdullah Abyan.

The Ministry of Culture also opened an exhibit, "Path of History", that features several scenes and sculptures that reflect the values embodied in the founding.

The exhibit features 19 "scenes" that highlight significant events that have taken place since the founding in 1727 and until this day.

The Ministry is also organizing a musical concert, "The Symphony of the Beginning", which will be held on Sunday and Monday.

An orchestra will escort the audience on a journey through time to recount how Saudi Arabia was founded. Several celebrated Saudi poets and composers will take part in the event.


KAUST Launches 1st Initiative to Enhance Scientific, Sustainability Literacy for Children

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) launched its first educational initiative designed to enhance scientific and sustainability literacy for children. SPA
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) launched its first educational initiative designed to enhance scientific and sustainability literacy for children. SPA
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KAUST Launches 1st Initiative to Enhance Scientific, Sustainability Literacy for Children

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) launched its first educational initiative designed to enhance scientific and sustainability literacy for children. SPA
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) launched its first educational initiative designed to enhance scientific and sustainability literacy for children. SPA

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) launched its first educational initiative designed to enhance scientific and sustainability literacy for children, underscoring the critical role of science in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The initiative was launched in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) office in the Kingdom and "Frontiers for Young Minds," an open-access scientific journal dedicated to children.

The initiative, titled "The SDG Collection: How Science Can Help Us to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals," includes a series of articles on each of the 17 SDGs and will be published in Frontiers for Young Minds.

The initiative builds upon previous partnership efforts between KAUST and the journal, which included a collection of scientific articles tailored for children and translated into Arabic. It made complex scientific concepts easily accessible and appealing to Arabic-speaking children worldwide.

The project aligns with Saudi Vision 2030, which emphasizes the role of sustainable research in stimulating social and economic development, and inspiring future generations to achieve sustainable development.

KAUST Professor of Practice of Sustainability and Head of Sustainability Ana Margarida Costa indicated that the initiative reflects the university's utilization of science and educational programs to address global challenges.

Through these scientific articles about SDGs collection, the aim is not only to educate young minds but also to inspire them to take concrete actions for a sustainable world, said Costa.

“The collection, edited by KAUST experts, will feature contributions from KAUST's diverse pool of researchers and will leverage an in-person, interactive, peer-review process involving students from local schools, including the KAUST School (TKS),” Costa added.

KAUST Enrichment for Youth Director Nicki Talbot, currently leading the engagement with TKS, emphasized that the initiative allows children to participate in reviewing research papers authored by KAUST researchers, which is a wonderful example of the university's commitment to empowering and educating youth.

Talbot also pointed out that it would involve the inclusion of new audiovisual materials, such as talk shows and interviews with authors led by students, to bridge the gap between researchers and children.

Talbot noted that the initiative’s translation into Arabic would improve its accessibility, ensuring that children throughout the Kingdom and the Arab region can fully benefit from this educational resource aimed at raising awareness about the global sustainable development agenda.


Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale Opens Under Theme ‘After Rain’

The Saudi Ministry of Culture inaugurated the third edition of the International Biennial of Contemporary Art of the South – Bienalsur – at Saudi Arabia Museum of Contemporary Art at Jax (SAMoCA) (Marco Cappellletti)
The Saudi Ministry of Culture inaugurated the third edition of the International Biennial of Contemporary Art of the South – Bienalsur – at Saudi Arabia Museum of Contemporary Art at Jax (SAMoCA) (Marco Cappellletti)
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Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale Opens Under Theme ‘After Rain’

The Saudi Ministry of Culture inaugurated the third edition of the International Biennial of Contemporary Art of the South – Bienalsur – at Saudi Arabia Museum of Contemporary Art at Jax (SAMoCA) (Marco Cappellletti)
The Saudi Ministry of Culture inaugurated the third edition of the International Biennial of Contemporary Art of the South – Bienalsur – at Saudi Arabia Museum of Contemporary Art at Jax (SAMoCA) (Marco Cappellletti)

The Diriyah Biennale Foundation inaugurated on Monday the second edition of Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, held under the theme “After Rain”, showcasing the works of Saudi and international artists, SPA said.
Held until May 24 in the JAX district, in Diriyah, the exhibition is curated by Ute Meta Bauer, artistic director of the biennale. Some 100 artists, including 30 from the Gulf countries, exhibit 177 artworks in six indoor and outdoor halls and courtyards spread over 12,900 square meters.

Photo by Alessandro Brasile

 

The works are based on artistic research inspired by the curatorial team trips throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which culminated in a creative artistic dialogue between different generations.
This edition of the biennale gathers artists from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and environments who contemplate the relationship between humans and nature, interact with the surrounding nature, and focus their works on primary human needs such as water, food, and medical care.
They also narrate history, in a country undergoing rapid developments and changes, and offer a rich multi-sensory experience.
For the second edition of the biennale, the Diriyah Biennale Foundation supported 47 new artists, including Jumana Emil Abboud, Sara Abdu, Mohammad AlFaraj, Azra Akšamija, Tarek Atoui, Rachaporn Chochoy, Vikram Divesha, Christine Fenzl, Anne Holtrop, Armin Linke and Ahmed Mater in an artistic collaboration, Njokobok, and Camille Zakharia.
Artist Tania Mouraud displays on a roundabout in the JAX district, and Mariah Lookman’s work is displayed in Shamalat Diriyah, the artistic cultural center located on the outskirts of old Diriyah.


Besides the art exhibition, there will also be a series of meetings and dialogues among artists, workshops, 10 film screenings in the Black Box Theater, an area for research-based artworks, and displays of research projects and artistic talks, which began last April, under the title Biennale Meetings Series.
These last activities will continue over the course of a full year, in conjunction with the interactive “Learning Garden” online platform, which continues to showcase the ideas presented at the biennale even after the conclusion of the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale.


Diriyah Biennale Foundation CEO Aya Al-Bakree said the second edition of the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale “synchronizes with the great renaissance and the civilizational and developmental transformation that the Kingdom is experiencing, especially in the arts sector”.
She said that this edition of the event is a cultural experience that calls for contemplation and reflection, and resonates with visitors of all cultures and ages.
The depth of research conducted by Meta Bauer adds creativity and vitality to the event, Al-Bakree said.


Aswan Hosts 11th Edition of International Festival of Art and Culture

The Aswan International Festival of Art and Culture. (Aswan Governorate)
The Aswan International Festival of Art and Culture. (Aswan Governorate)
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Aswan Hosts 11th Edition of International Festival of Art and Culture

The Aswan International Festival of Art and Culture. (Aswan Governorate)
The Aswan International Festival of Art and Culture. (Aswan Governorate)

The city of Aswan has launched the 11th edition of the Aswan International Festival of Art and Culture, in a morning event that hosted 15 folkloric Egyptian, Arab and international ensembles, on Sunday.

Co-organized by the ministry of culture and the Aswan governorate, the festival is aimed at promoting folkloric arts and emphasizing the cultural heritage of several countries, as well as highlighting the natural charm of Aswan, said the Aswan governorate in a statement on Facebook.

“The festival is special because it is held on the Nile,” Doha Assy, Egyptian author, parliament member and member of the parliament’s culture committee, said in the opening ceremony. “This incredible launch on the Nile underscores the significance of the river in the popular culture,” she told “Asharq Al-Awsat”.

“The festival combines two things: folklore and popular art. Each country brings its own culture and folklore in special art performances, shedding lights on the diversity of identities and the harmony that it creates,” she added.

The festival runs until February 22, coinciding with a special astronomical event, the alignment of the sun with the King Ramses II temple in Abu Simbel. The phenomenon occurs twice a year, on February 22, on which started the cultivation season in Ancient Egypt, and on October 22, the birthday of King Ramses II and the anniversary of his crowning.

The Egyptian MP said they watched “amazing shows from Mexico, Sudan and Palestine during the opening.

During the event, Aswan is set to embrace a number of artistic and cultural events, including the Aswan Sculpture Symposium, which hosts Egyptian and international artists.

Assy noted that “the festival of art and culture has all the potentials to become a major tourism event,” describing the foreign ensembles as “ambassadors of their countries to Egypt.”


Minister of Media Launches 'Saudipedia Platform' at Saudi Media Forum

A landmark is lit up in the colors of the national flag in Diriyah on the occasion of Saudi National Day. (SPA file photo)
A landmark is lit up in the colors of the national flag in Diriyah on the occasion of Saudi National Day. (SPA file photo)
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Minister of Media Launches 'Saudipedia Platform' at Saudi Media Forum

A landmark is lit up in the colors of the national flag in Diriyah on the occasion of Saudi National Day. (SPA file photo)
A landmark is lit up in the colors of the national flag in Diriyah on the occasion of Saudi National Day. (SPA file photo)

Minister of Media Salman bin Yousef Al-Dosari launched in Riyadh on Monday the digital platform for the Saudi encyclopedia (saudipedia.com).

The launch was held at the Future of Media Exhibition (FOMEX) during the Saudi Media Forum.

Minister of Communications and Information Technology Eng. Abdullah Alswaha and several other officials from Arab and international media outlets attended the event.

The Saudi encyclopedia is one of the initiatives of the Human Capability Development Program, one of the programs of Saudi Vision 2030.

Saudipedia will be a comprehensive platform that offers encyclopedic content covering various aspects of the Kingdom, including culture, society, economy, politics, geography, and history. It will serve as an authentic source of knowledge for regional, Arab, and international media, and as a knowledge platform with accurate information about Saudi affairs.

The platform is expected to become the primary reference on Saudi information and will be available in multiple languages.

Al-Dosari said work was started to create Saudipedia, an initiative that aligns with Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister’s vision to establish a thriving society that takes pride in its rich history, heritage, and distinctive cultural identity.

He said: “Saudipedia aims to become the primary source of information about the leadership, people, history, geography, and culture of Saudi Arabia. We will achieve this by providing a platform in multiple languages, starting with Arabic.”

The Saudi encyclopedia will combine multimedia elements to enhance its textual content and will undergo regular updates to reflect the cultural, civilizational, historical, and natural geographical wealth of the Kingdom.


Strike at the Eiffel Tower Closes One of the World’s Most Popular Monuments to Visitors

A general view of the Eiffel Tower that remains closed to visitors during a strike of the staff in Paris, France, 19 February 2024. (EPA)
A general view of the Eiffel Tower that remains closed to visitors during a strike of the staff in Paris, France, 19 February 2024. (EPA)
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Strike at the Eiffel Tower Closes One of the World’s Most Popular Monuments to Visitors

A general view of the Eiffel Tower that remains closed to visitors during a strike of the staff in Paris, France, 19 February 2024. (EPA)
A general view of the Eiffel Tower that remains closed to visitors during a strike of the staff in Paris, France, 19 February 2024. (EPA)

Visitors to the Eiffel Tower were turned away on Monday because of a strike over poor financial management at one of the world’s most-visited sites.

A sign was posted at the entrance in English, saying: “Due to a strike, the Eiffel Tower is closed. We apologize.”

The hugely popular 330-meter (1083-foot) landmark in central Paris has seen soaring visitor numbers in the lead-up to the Summer Olympics in the French capital.

Tourists planning to visit the Eiffel Tower on Monday were warned of disruptions in multiple languages on its website. Visitors were advised to check the website before heading to the monument or to postpone their trip. Electronic ticket owners were told to check their inboxes beforehand.

The landmark's operator also said on its website that visits to the Eiffel Tower will be disrupted on Tuesday.

“We’re a little disappointed but we understand that people deserve a fair wage and they deserve proper working conditions,” said Marisa Solis, an American tourist, visiting Paris from New York City.

The Eiffel Tower is typically open 365 days a year. Monday’s closure is the second in two months due to strikes. In December, it was closed to visitors for an entire day during Christmas and New Year’s holidays because of a strike over contract negotiations.

Morgan McKenny, an American living in Germany, has come to Paris to celebrate her birthday and decided to enter the landmark Monday after surveying it from all sides over the weekend.

“Knowing that I can’t come to the tower today is very, very disappointing,” McKenny said. She added: “I appreciate the workers wanting to keep the tower going for the next few hundred years.”

Stephane Dieu of the CGT union, which represents a large number of the Eiffel Tower’s employees, said Monday's strike is aimed at a salary increase in proportion to the incoming revenue from ticket sales and improved maintenance of the monument, which is owned by the Paris municipality.

Union leaders have criticized the Eiffel Tower operator's business model, saying it's based on an inflated estimate of future visitor numbers, maintenance cost expenses and employees' work compensation.

“They are giving priority to short-term benefits over long-term conservation of the monument and the well-being of the company we are working for,” Dieu said in an interview with The Associated Press at the Eiffel Tower picket line on Monday.


AlUla Summit to Discuss Future of Global Culture Next Week

“AlUla Future Culture Summit” (FCS) will witness the participation of approximately 150 leaders, decision-makers, entrepreneurs, and artists from around the world during February 25 to 27. (SPA)
“AlUla Future Culture Summit” (FCS) will witness the participation of approximately 150 leaders, decision-makers, entrepreneurs, and artists from around the world during February 25 to 27. (SPA)
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AlUla Summit to Discuss Future of Global Culture Next Week

“AlUla Future Culture Summit” (FCS) will witness the participation of approximately 150 leaders, decision-makers, entrepreneurs, and artists from around the world during February 25 to 27. (SPA)
“AlUla Future Culture Summit” (FCS) will witness the participation of approximately 150 leaders, decision-makers, entrepreneurs, and artists from around the world during February 25 to 27. (SPA)

“AlUla Future Culture Summit” (FCS) will witness the participation of approximately 150 leaders, decision-makers, entrepreneurs, and artists from around the world during February 25 to 27, SPA said on Sunday.
The FCS aims to address key issues in the cultural sector and explore ways to strengthen it as a catalyst for social progress and positive transformation in the future.
The FCS, organized by the Royal Commission for AlUla in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, comprises a range of discussions, workshops, and interactive presentations. Its objective is to explore innovative approaches to fostering widespread involvement and making a significant impact through art, culture, and related industries.
The FCS program comprises three primary sessions. The initial session, referred to as "The Rich Foundation," is designed to promote innovation and rejuvenation in culture. Its goal is to delve into the essence and requirements of culture, establishing a harmonious connection with the environment.
The second session, titled "The Creative Land," aims to facilitate the shift towards global creativity and cross-cultural dialogue. This session will explore cultural economic development policies, and provide support for creative entrepreneurship. The last session, named "Harvest of Impact," will focus on fostering comprehensive culture and community empowerment, examining global cultural production and its influence on local cultures.
In addition to exploring the natural and cultural beauty of AlUla, participants in this cultural event will also have the opportunity to enjoy various artistic performances. The lineup includes renowned Saudi artist Balqees Alrashed, the Spanish theater group La Fura dels Baus, and the talented Nigerian-British poet and writer Inua Ellams.


Cairo Citadel Opens Another Wing to Public to Attract More Visitors

 A view of the Al-Ramla and Al-Haddad towers after their renovation for re-opening to the public, that will increase visitors and numbers of visiting hours for Salah al-Din citadel, which was constructed under the Muslim military commander Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi around 1176 A.D, in Cairo, Egypt, February 18, 2024. (Reuters)
A view of the Al-Ramla and Al-Haddad towers after their renovation for re-opening to the public, that will increase visitors and numbers of visiting hours for Salah al-Din citadel, which was constructed under the Muslim military commander Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi around 1176 A.D, in Cairo, Egypt, February 18, 2024. (Reuters)
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Cairo Citadel Opens Another Wing to Public to Attract More Visitors

 A view of the Al-Ramla and Al-Haddad towers after their renovation for re-opening to the public, that will increase visitors and numbers of visiting hours for Salah al-Din citadel, which was constructed under the Muslim military commander Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi around 1176 A.D, in Cairo, Egypt, February 18, 2024. (Reuters)
A view of the Al-Ramla and Al-Haddad towers after their renovation for re-opening to the public, that will increase visitors and numbers of visiting hours for Salah al-Din citadel, which was constructed under the Muslim military commander Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi around 1176 A.D, in Cairo, Egypt, February 18, 2024. (Reuters)

Cairo's citadel, one of the Egyptian capital's most prominent landmarks, opened another wing housing two semi-circular towers to the public on Sunday, to expand the country's tourist attractions.

One of the world's biggest mediaeval citadels, the Citadel of Cairo dates back to about 1176 A.D. when construction began under the Muslim military commander Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi, who later went on to capture Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187 A.D.

The fortress, also known as the Saladin Citadel and which towers over Cairo, was the base of Egypt's government for over 700 years.

The newly opened section was used until recently as a private events space and to house army and police barracks.

It includes the Ramla and Haddad (blacksmith) towers, built in the decades following Salah al-Din's death by his successors Sultan Al-Adil Al-Ayyubi and Sultan Al-Nasser Saladin Al-Ayyubi.

Tourism minister Ahmed Eissa said opening the additional section to the public was part of a broad plan to improve tourism in Egypt that will be formally announced next month.

"I'm being told by travel agencies that the citadel visit doesn't last more than an hour. Our plan in the coming months is to extend the time in which visitors tour the citadel from one hour to at least three," he told reporters.

"This is the first effort we're making to relaunch Cairo as a new cultural product which we will call 'Cairo City Break', with the details to be unveiled in the coming months," Eissa added.