The poet of the Farasan Islands, Ibrahim Moftah, describing the people of Farasan’s love for the archipelago, its beaches that captivate minds, natural beauty, and the rich heritage that goes beyond its physical form, the Saudi poet and writer says that as soon as he leaves Farasan: "Life has been being sucked out of him."
Farasan, the archipelago of more than 200 islets on the Red Sea, is in the far southwest of Saudi Arabia. The area is considered a cultural and tourist treasure because of its virgin islands, proximity to the strategically significant Bab al-Mandab strait and its many palaces and heritage sites, which had previously been a meeting point and place to rest for commercial and military ships. Also, a fishing festival is held annually; Al-Harid began decades ago but has been canceled this year because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
These qualities, the uniqueness of its biodiversity and topography, led Saudi Arabia to set a plan to develop and preserve it and its culture, thereby allowing the “Farasan Islands Marine Sanctuary” to meet the requirements to become the first Saudi natural reserve registered in the Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB) at UNESCO.
"We are working on our Twitter account," tweets Minister of Culture and chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Heritage Preservation Society Prince Badr bin Farhan. "Our country is dear because of its people and its natural and cultural diversity.”
Each island contains historical imprints and a heritage dating back to ancient periods set by cruise ships left by imperial ships, in addition to an industrial history, having been the German coal depot during World War II. All this gives these islands, which have an estimated total area of 1050 square kilometers, historical significance.
The over 12,000 residents of the area live almost exclusively on the main Farasan Island and have a unique maritime lifestyle. Ships and sailboats are major means of transportation to those who reside by the diverse islands on the colorful shining water which sits on top of the coral reefs, alongside diverse marine life, including whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles.
The Saudi Society for the Preservation of Heritage is working to register the Farasan Islands on UNESCO’s MAB before the registration deadline in September.