Bridging Cultures Together

How can heritage preservation support Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals?

Eng. Najla AlJeaid
Executive Manager of Local Initiatives

Heritage is integral to a nation’s identity. It instils pride among its citizens, serves as a moral compass, and is the history that we pass on to future generations.

In recent years, we have also seen the power of heritage preservation in meeting social and economic goals.

It comes as no surprise that governments are taking a more active role in heritage preservation; to boost tourism, create jobs and diversify the skill set of their population. One example is the preservation of AlUla.

Globally recognised as a pillar of Saudi history, it attracts tourists and boosts the country’s economy. Interestingly, we have also seen heritage play a role in overcoming environmental challenges.

According to the Saudi 2030 vision, culture is indispensable to the quality of life. The government is pivoting the country to a modern and sustainable future while preserving its heritage. The Kingdom aims to increase both the quality and quantity of its cultural activities.

Alwaleed Philanthropies has long understood the role of heritage and cultural preservation in meeting the goals set out in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Specifically, how supporting cultural projects can potentially diversify the economy, stimulate job creation, and ultimately raise the quality of life for all citizens.

It’s important that we understand heritage is not simply defined. Projects scale from the work of individuals and large-scale development projects. Both micro- and macro- projects have a huge impact on national development.

For example, we strongly believe in the wider impact of empowering Saudi female artisans. The history of traditional craftsmanship is rooted in sustainable production.

These traditional methods of craftsmanship, born across different parts of Saudi Arabia, tell the story of the diverse traditions across the Kingdom.

These traditional art forms have a unique position in supporting the creative economy, which benefits from more artisans in the job market, commercialisation of creative products and the upskilling of the next generation.

As part of our partnership with Turquoise Mountain, we focused on preserving traditional art forms, providing creative outlets for women and creating more avenues to sustain a living through traditional crafts.

Recently, we launched production workshops at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, where we support female artisans by providing training in craft production resulting in a sustainable income. Women play a crucial role as cultural gatekeepers keeping the tradition of Saudi alive through their artform.

Women play a crucial role as cultural gatekeepers keeping the tradition of Saudi alive through their artform To truly meet the goals set out in Vision 2030, we cannot underestimate the importance of collaboration. Philanthropies and the humanitarian sector can play an important role in creating the bridge required between skills, resources, governments, and the community.

Saudi Arabia has become the first Arab country to establish a dedicated preservation society and has seen greater collaborative efforts between NGOs, government organisations, and the civil society.

Collaboration is vital for meaningful and sustainable change. In March 2022, we signed a partnership with the Saudi Ministry of Culture to collaborate in enhancing the Kingdom’s cultural sector.

We cannot operate in isolation. In an increasingly interconnected world, we have also seen the potential of heritage projects to have multiple benefits for society, the environment and the economy.

One of our recent projects, we partnered with the Aseer Development Authority (ASDA) to develop the Qimam and Shem area. The focus is to revive the local buildings, with a special focus on the sustainable methods used. We understand that we cannot ignore the needs of our environment in our projects.

Social development cannot be divorced from economic and environmental prosperity. The positive impact of heritage conservation on climate change has started to reflect in the capital city of Riyadh where the government has invested in cultural heritage restoration and the city’s infrastructure.

Globally, governments are aligning their international development work with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, empowering key stakeholders from the private sector, philanthropies, and citizens to work together.

It’s only through collaboration, creativity and cross-cultural understanding, that we can continue to make strides in meeting the goals set out by Vision 2030.