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Cataloguing Saudi Arabia’s rich urban heritage
 

 

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a rich urban heritage with vast potential to support plans to grow the country’s tourism sector. Until now, however, the Kingdom’s many heritage sites have not been documented digitally by the authorities.

Experts from Khatib & Alami (K&A) have been tasked by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) with developing a digital tool to help capture and store information about urban heritage sites throughout the vast expanse of the Kingdom, including buildings and other areas of cultural and historical interest.


The three-year “Urban Heritage Site Inventory” project, which started in 2017, incorporates around 1,000 sites. K&A’s solution was to develop a smart tablet application called “Rased AlTurath AlUmrani راصد التراث العمراني ”, in addition to the Web application “Sejjel AlTurath AlUmrani سجل التراث العمراني الوطني”.

The new tablet tool uses geographic information system (GIS) technology to capture photographs and information about heritage sites during field surveys, while the web app provides access for people to explore and browse information about the sites online within the Kingdom.

Having completed the development of the tools, K&A recently began delivering training for SCTH’s staff. His Excellency, Mr. Rustom Al Kbeissi (Tourism Commission Vice Chairman for the National Heritage Sector), opened the first workshop, and highlighted the importance of the project for the Kingdom’s heritage sector.

The solutions provided by K&A have the potential to feed a centralized geodatabase with all the information needed about heritage sites across Saudi Arabia. Culture and heritage is a major aspect of the Kingdom’s plans to attract millions of people to Saudi Arabia, in line with its Vision 2030 strategy for social and economic transformation.

The National Urban Heritage Center of SCTH is further developing the project to provide a full digital system to document, analyze, protect and track all aspects of the Kingdom’s urban heritage sites. The main objectives of this project are to:
- Standardize the list of heritage sites in KSA
- Provide all data, features, coordinates and photographs
- Evaluate and categorize all sites
- Update periodically the system through GIS to support management operations and future plans
- Store all heritage sites in a central geodatabase that eliminates the risk of data redundancy
- Provide consistently high quality
- Identify the heritage sites, extract reports and produce maps
- Develop a web application to display and analyze the heritage sites, as well as a mobile (tablet) for collecting the data