On Tuesday afternoon, July 13, 2010, in Paris, France, on behalf of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, HRH Prince Saud Al Faisal, Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, along with His Excellency Bernard Kouchner, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, on behalf of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, opened the exhibition of “Saudi Archeological Masterpieces through the ages.”
The exhibition was opened in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) and Mr. Frédéric Mitterrand, French Minister of Culture, and Mr. Henri Loyrette, Director General of the Louvre Museum.
The exhibition is hosted by the Louvre Museum, Paris, France, held in collaboration with SCTA and is scheduled to last for two months.
HRH Prince Saud Al Faisal, along with His Excellency Bernard Kouchner, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, toured through the exhibition and listened to a detailed explanation from Dr. Ali Al Ghabban, Vice President for Antiquities and Museums at SCTA, on the historic items and relics in the exhibition and its subsequent tour outside the Kingdom. At the end of the tour, HRH Prince Saud Al Faisal wrote his impressions in the museum visitors’ record in which he affirmed the important historic and cultural dimension that this exhibition reflects.
HRH Prince Saud Al Faisal, in a statement said, “I am pleased to inaugurate this important event, the ‘Saudi Archeological Masterpieces through the ages,’ along with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France in Louver Museum. HRH Prince Saud Al Faisal added that this exhibition, which embodies mutual cooperation between the two friendly countries, is exceeding in political, economic, and security areas within our efforts towards enhancing and developing current relations between the two countries, as well as looking for new prospects of mutual cooperation for the interest of our two nations.”
The exhibition covers different historic periods starting from the Stone Age until the Saudi Renaissance, early Arabian Kingdoms, middle and late Arabian kingdoms, the Prophetic period, Umayyad period, Abbasid period, Ottoman period, and Saudi Arabia’s unification by King Abdul Aziz in addition to the development that the Kingdom is witnessing in the present time in a country that is honored by God as the cradle of Islamic message and hosting the two holy mosques.
HRH Prince Saud Al Faisal further stated: “I would like also to refer to the fruitful and constructive cooperation between SCTA and specialists from [the] French side, which translated into many joint efforts through Saudi and French joint teams in the field of archeological survey and excavation on historic sites throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I would like to repeat my thanks and appreciations to His Excellency Mr. Kouchner and to his colleagues, French Minister of Culture, Director of Louver Museum, and Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, which within a short time since its foundation was able to convert this treasure, which was only an idea, into concrete evidence.”
The French Foreign Minister in a statement said this exhibition embodied the close cooperation between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and France in different areas, especially cultural area. He added that, “I am glad to be in this exhibition which contains beautiful antiquities and is reflecting the close cooperation between the Kingdom and France.” He continued, “I very much appreciate the praise of HRH Prince Saud Al Faisal of the close relations between the Kingdom and France, and I am very happy for visiting this exhibition and to see relics that are showcased for the first time. I praised these relics; we also could see how Arabic calligraphy was developed. I advise everybody to visit this exhibition, and I will visit this exhibition again.”
He further added, “I have read too much about the history of the Kingdom; I could not understand [as] much as I have done during my tour in the exhibition today.”
His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, President of SCTA, in a statement on the occasion affirmed the importance of the message that is sent by this exhibition to the world on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its cultural potentials and how it nurtured a number of civilizations besides it being a center for important political and economic resolutions during different historic periods. The exhibition is also reflecting the important role of the Kingdom in the present under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and HRH Crown Prince, the thing that qualified it to play an important role in the international political and economic scene.
HRH President of SCTA added: “The exhibition presents the Kingdom in a different way compatible with the global passion that eagerly wants to know about the historic and cultural component of the Kingdom, which enjoys important international presence besides its importance to the international balance of economy. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques is well known in this respect as [an] international maker of humanitarian and cultural initiatives (May Allah protect him).”
HRH President of SCTA said that the exhibition is considered as a gift by the Kingdom to the whole world and to the people who are particularly concerned with culture due to the important information that the exhibition provides through its selective relics, which narrate the sequence of history that the Kingdom has passed through and its impact across the world. The nation is proud of this aspect, besides it is the birth place for Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). The backdrop of pre-Islamic civilizations shows the importance of Islamic message.
HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman emphasized that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was not an incidental country in the course of the history, and the current standing that it occupies politically and economically across the world is an extension to an amazing civilization. HRH President of SCTA, referred to the concern that is given by the Kingdom to national heritage development in order to remain as a lasting source of pride, as well as cultural and economic resource. The exhibition is also adding to the historic dimension as a new aspect to the Kingdom’s well-known religious, political, and economic dimensions.
He said that the Louvre Museum in Paris is the first stop within the global journey of Saudi antiquities exhibitions across the world, and considered the tour of the exhibition across the world will affirm the historic importance of the Kingdom, as well as introduce the cultural dimension of the Kingdom to the world and underscore the special importance of Saudi antiquities for the completion of human historic link besides deeply rooting the Kingdom’s present standing under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques with regard to the human communication.
Noteworthy, the exhibition is held during Louvre’s rush season in which the museum used to receiving a large numbers of visitors annually. The Louvre also bears the full costs of the exhibition, which includes over 300 relics that are showcased for the first time outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and are representing different historic periods that the Kingdom has passed through.
Many scientific lectures are planned to be delivered by Saudi and French specialists on the antiquities of the Kingdom on the margin of the exhibition. Also, a number of films will be exhibited and photographs will be displayed besides distributing a large number of pamphlets and books on the most important archeological sites in the Kingdom. An accompanied exhibition will be held on the titled, “Kingdom in the eyes of French writers,” to be held by King Abdul Aziz Dara and SCTA together.
Also folklore shows will be held on the margin of the exhibition organized by the Ministry of Culture and Information, which will help in media coverage of the exhibition. A special book on the exhibition was prepared that includes 600 pages in French, English, and Arabic languages containing comprehensive information on the exhibition, researches, articles, and working papers written by national and international specialists on the historic depth and the distinct cultural role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the ages.
The exhibition’s next stop is Barcelona in November as its next station before traveling to other European and US cities, and will also be staged in Gulf countries as it received invitations from Qatar and Bahrain.