Technology Brings Saudi Arabia's Past Alive for a New Generation
Fittingly for a country with a such a young and tech-savvy population, Saudi Arabiais making the most of digital technology to uncover its past - and to increase understanding of its heritage, particularly among younger generations.
Technology was a recurring theme at the 1st Saudi Archaeology Convention being held in Riyadh this week (November 7-9), both in terms of an important research tool used by research teams up and down the country, but also as a popular way of engaging the general public. For example, convention delegates were shown a locally-developed mobile app which provides handy information on the history and heritage of the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah and historic pilgrimage routes - perfect for those visiting Saudi Arabia for hajj.
And while this app is offering an eye on the past, it is also completely on-message with Saudi Vision2030, the nationwide economic and cultural change program. The main aim of this is to reduce the country's dependence on oil - but also to build an open, vibrant society at the heart of the Islamic world. Such an app is perfectly conceived as the country looks to increase annual pilgrim numbers to 30 million, but it also exemplifies the burgeoning tech sector in the country.
In his welcoming speech to delegates, Prince Sultan said: "Archaeological explorations have been undertaken since the reign of the late King Abdulaziz, and have continued under all the subsequent Kings who all understood that our country is a land of great civilizations, where the religion of Islam and the Holy Qura'an came to light, and that our country is a place where the many of the world's civilizations have intersected, and where the greatest message to mankind was received."
Having referenced the many years of archaeological endeavour within Saudi Arabia, the opening ceremony concluded with a presentation to one of Saudi's most revered archaeologists, Dr Abdulrahman bin Mohammed Al Tayib Al Ansari was honoured with the launch of an annual prize in his name to be awarded to the most promising young archaeologists.