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Ministry of Culture launches first national competition to document Saudi industrial heritage

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The Ministry of Culture launched the first day of the national competition to document the Kingdom’s industrial heritage on Sunday July 14. The competition aims to establish the first national database for all industrial sites that fall under this category, with the participation of Saudis and residents from all social segments.

Open to all citizens and residents through, the prizes will total to SR1m ($266,000). It is part of the Industrial Heritage Program announced by Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, Minister of Culture, in April.

Prince Badr Al Saud, Minister of Culture and Governor of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula tweeted the announcement: “Following the launch of the Industrial Heritage Preservation project with the help and efforts of my fellow colleagues in supporting the program, we launch today a competition to strengthen the concept, our country has a base for Industrial Heritage sites.”

Industrial heritage includes the remnants of the ancient industrial culture, whether technological, social, architectural or scientific, and consists of buildings, machines, factories, mines, refineries and warehouses.

Running from July 14 until October 6, the competition is divided into three categories. The first focuses on the discovery of the sites and requires participants to send pictures, videos and basic information. The second requests participants to tell stories and detailed events that affected the industry and social life through voice recording or videos.

The third urges the participants to document the site’s story by researching its history and impact on the industry and society with a prize that will amount to SR300,000 ($80,000).

The organizing committee put the competition’s conditions and details on its website, including an explanation about the concept of industrial heritage, the conditions of its classification and the quality of heritage sites.

Participants will be evaluated by specialized panels before the winners are announced in November. The competition’s criteria focus on the efforts exerted by the participants in finding the sites and the quality of their information.

The Kingdom is characterized in its industrial heritage legacy by its leading role in the oil and gas industry, desalination plants, petrochemicals industry and minerals and cement mining and their supporting transport system, such as ports and trains.

On April 30, the Kingdom became the first country in the Arab world to commit to investing in its industrial heritage with the establishment of a dedicated preservation society.

Speaking to Arab News in April, Dr. Miles Oglethorpe, a board member of the International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage who attended the society’s launch, said the Kingdom had a vast industrial heritage to draw on that could “deliver social, economic and political benefit that reinforces Saudi society.”

He told Arab News: “Industry is extremely important, and the history of industry is that which lies behind how we live today. All across the world there are hugely important industries that have employed people and changed the world around them. Sometimes they have rapidly altered the environment and landscapes, sometimes not very nicely, other times very spectacularly.

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