A couple of weeks ago I visited Riyadh after I was invited by HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA). It was a wonderful trip. On my second day in the Kingdom I visited the historical town of El Diriyah, accompanied by archaeologist Jamal Omar, Director of the National Museum in Riyadh. I was really impressed by the government’s restoration of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While in the Kingdom, I gave a lecture at the National Museum on recent discoveries on pyramids, mummies and Cleopatra. After the lecture, Prince Sultan gave a wonderful speech and announced that Dr. Ali El Gaban, Vice President of SCTA, and myself will be directing a research project on the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Egypt during the time of the pharaohs. He also announced that the King of Saudi Arabia wants the beautiful Roads of Arabia Exhibition to tour the world. I then spoke at a conference on travel and tourism once again attended by Prince Sultan and Dr. Ali El Gaban.
On the next day, we flew to El Madinah, where I visited the museum inside El Hejaz Railway Station and I prayed at El Masjid El Nabawi, the Prophet’s Mosque. Unfortunately I could not meet HRH Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Governor of El Madinah Province, because on that day a foreign president was visiting. Jamal Omar and I then drove 320 kilometres to the city of Al Ula where we visited many sites, including Madain Saleh, another stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I must say that I am very impressed by Prince Sultan’s vision. He is a great man and, thanks to his work, Saudi monuments are really well-preserved and the management of historical sites is extremely efficient.