It is yet another matter of pride for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as one more site of historical importance in the nation gets inscribed into the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. The Rock Art found in the province of Ha’il was announced as the new addition by the committee along with two more sites from Italy and Jordan in July 2015. Rock Art is the fourth listing of Saudi heritage sites on the World Heritage list.
The Ha’il province has long been known for its rich art on rock that has always been of great interest for the images that the rocks bear. It can better be described as traces left by our predecessors during their travels in form of petroglyphs and paintings on rock. Most of the art depicts camels and horses and amazingly enough, in many instances, the horses can be clearly distinguished as the Arabian ones beyond doubt.
There are 2 distinct components at Ha’il that are of importance: the Jabel Umm Sinman at Jubbah and the Jabal al-Manjor and Raat at Shuwaymis. Evidence about the existence of a lake at the foot of the Umm Sinman hill range gives the new world a better understanding about the life in the desert. This lake is believed to be the source of fresh water for not just the travellers but also for the people and animals in the southern part of the Great Narfoud Desert.
Jabal al-Manjor and Raat form the rocky escarpment of a valley which is now covered in sand. They show numerous representations of human and animal figures covering 10,000 years of history.
Scientific archaeological investigations started when the Department of Antiquities and Museums initiated a Comprehensive Archaeological Survey of the entire Kingdom in 1976. As a result, several scholars had given worthy mention of these sites in several reports and seminars many times. Since then there have been surveys and investigations conducted on the land that has now brought in accolades to this magnificent work of art that carries with it the story of the journey of a civilization.
Being announced as a world heritage site due to the insightful Rock Art, the Ha’il province is expecting greater number of tourists visiting the place and more support from UNESCO in preserving the past for the future generations.