By New Age Islam Edit Desk
May 16, 2013
In a conference on ‘Culture: key to Sustainable Development’ organized by UNESCO and hosted by China yesterday, the Chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, Prince Sultan bin Salman said that Saudi Arabia was investing in its national heritage as a ‘principal of future development’. He said, ‘Custodian of two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah and the crown prince emphasizes the importance of the ‘conservation’ of the national heritage and investing in it for the interest of the nation and its economy and it is a principal part of future development.’
In reality, what the ‘prince’ said was a vague statement aimed at misleading not only the UNESCO but also the world Muslim community as it is known to the whole world that the Saudi Kingdom has embarked on a massive expansion plan of the two holy mosques in Makkah and Madina which will see the destruction of a number of remaining holy Islamic buildings and sites associated with the holy prophet (pbuh) and his holy companions. In the conference the prince did not give any clear idea of what ‘conservation’ plan they have taken and the sites they intend to ‘conserve.’
In his statement he has further said, ‘Kingdom is witnessing greater attention as part of world heritage, especially since the Saudi government is taking care to make its social, economic and cultural development as part of a five-year development plan.’
His statement is ironic. The kingdom has drawn greater attention of the world but not for its preservation of the heritage sites, rather for the destruction of those sites associated with the history of Islam and with the prophet (pbuh). It speaks of a five year development plan which will result in the construction of malls, seven star hotels, luxury apartments and markets at the cost of the destruction of heritage sites. The prince also told an audience of the UNESCO that his government had invested heavily in its heritage sites, increasing attention to the heritage resource as the principle part of sustainable development.’
As part of its five year development plan, the kingdom has already razed many sites and buildings of religious and architectural heritage of the country and now plans to bring down the Green Dome that houses the tomb of the holy prophet (pbuh). It also plans to demolish the mosques dedicated to the two caliphs, Abu Bakr and Hadhrat Umar.
The prince has very carefully worded his statement avoiding the use of the word ‘preserving’ and ‘maintaining’ while giving out his government’s plan of ‘investing’ and ‘conserving’ the national heritage for ‘future development’ by wiping out their past. The prince speaks of a ‘comprehensive national program to rediscover national culture, its renovation, development’. The word ‘Rediscovering and renovation’ has been used to indicate the massive expansion plans to boost its economy apparently but at the root, the Wahhabi agenda has been at its work that wants to wipe out all the historical sites associated with Islam because they believe that the historical sites lead Muslims to shirk (worship of false gods).
Why we say that the statement of the Saudi representative in the UNESCO conference is a lie is the fact that they had made a similar statement in 2005 in a conference in Oman and had acted otherwise.
The same prince Sultan had said in the inaugural session of a conference titled, “Built Environments for Sustainable Tourism (BEST)” that the Kingdom had taken the initiative to prepare two charters for the protection and development of architectural heritage. But two years after his proclamation on the preservation and protection of heritage sites, the ministry of Islamic Affairs had circulated a pamphlet in 2007 endorsed by the grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Abdul Aziz which had called for the demolition of the Green Dome and the flattening of the graves of the holy prophet (pbuh), Hadhrat Abu Bakr and Hadhrat Umar.
Apart from the Green Dome and the mosques of the caliphs, the Baythal Maulid, the house where the prophet (pbuh) is believed to be born will be removed. The place from where the prophet (pbuh) is believed to have embarked on the night journey has already been destroyed.
The house of Hadhrat Khadija has already been destroyed and public toilets have been constructed on the site. The house of Hadhrat Abu Bakr has been replaced by Hilton Hotel.
The Washington-based Gulf Institute estimates that 95 per cent of Mecca's millennium-old buildings have been demolished in the past two decades alone.
In view of the massive destruction spree the Saudi government under the Commission for Tourism and Antiquities is on, the statements of the kingdom appear to be an eyewash and an attempt by them to misguide the world bodies like the UNESCO.
What they are doing in the name of development, renovation and conservation is destruction of holy Islamic historical sites under the influence of Wahhabism. The world should take strong note of the lies and misleading statements of the Saudi Kingdom about the preservation of archaeological and heritage sites of Saudi Arabia before it is too late.