Historic preservation is extremely important to Saudi Arabia. Numerous restoration projects have been undertaken to safeguard the Kingdom’s architectural heritage, including restoring historic buildings and neighborhoods.
These projects are undertaken by the Department of Museums and Antiquities, which excavates, catalogues and preserves pre-historic and historic sites. In 2003, the department was transferred from the Ministry of Education to the Supreme Commission for Tourism (SCT), which was established in 2000.
Important archaeological work is also carried out by the Department of Archaeology at King Saud University in Riyadh.
One major restoration project took place at Dariyah, the ancestral home of the Al-Saud family and the capital of the First Saudi State. Other projects include the ancient sites of Fau, Madain Saleh, Al-Ula, Tayma, Duma and along the Darb Zubaydah, the pilgrimage road to Makkah.
As the birthplace of Islam, the Kingdom places a special emphasis on preserving its Islamic archaeological heritage. A large number of mosques around the Kingdom have been meticulously restored, including the Holy Mosque in Makkah, the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah and mosques built by the first caliphs after the death of the Prophet Muhammad.
Another way the Saudi government is showing its commitment to preserving its cultural heritage is by restoring historic neighborhoods. Restoration work has been undertaken in the old Qasr Al-Hokm area in Riyadh, as well as the ancient quarters of Jeddah, Hail, and other Saudi cities. This restoration work was showcased during the 1999 celebrations marking the hijrah centennial of the taking of the Masmak Fortress in 1902.