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30 INCENTIVES Heritage


Architecture


The design and construction of buildings in Saudi Arabia have largely been dictated by the climate, geography and resources available. Historically, builders in the central areas of the Kingdom preferred adobe for its availability, pliability and insula- tion. This material is a very basic blend of dirt and water, often mixed with straw for strength, and then shaped and dried. Even today you can still see many homes built with adobe, even in the modern cosmopolitan cities like Riyadh, although they are now in a dire state of disrepair. In the western parts of the Kingdom stone and red brick were common, while builders in Jeddah used coral from the Red Sea. Today, contemporary architects look to these traditional building designs for inspi- ration, combining traditional methods and materials with modern day resources. King Saud University and the King Khalid Inter- national Airport are two striking examples of just how well traditional Islamic design and modern structure can be combined. Further striking examples of Arabic archi- tecture can be found in the Musmak Palace, which was built around 1865 and extensively renovated in the 1980s. It is a square shaped


saudiarabia 2011


THE DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF BUILDINGS IN SAUDI ARABIA HAVE LARGELY BEEN DICTATED BY THE CLIMATE, GEOGRAPHY AND RESOURCES AVAILABLE


fortified castle consisting of watch towers on all corners and very thick walls. Inside the mud fortress there is a reconstructed traditional diwan (sitting room) with an open courtyard and a fully functioning well. The for- tress is now a museum devoted to Abdulaziz. The Al-Thumairi Gate, in the centre of town, is an impressive restoration of one of the nine gates that used to lead into the city before the wall was torn down in 1950. Undeniably, Riyadh's most interesting attraction is the ruins of Dir'iyah, which lie 30 kilometres north of the city centre and to the northwest of Al-Riyadh on the bank of Wadi Hanifa. This was the Kingdom's first capital and it is now the country's most popular archaeological site. The reconstructed ruins include palaces, mosques and the city wall. One of the most synonymous Arabic architectural structures is the minaret, which is also one of the most visible man-made structures in Saudi Arabia. Minarets jut from


the skyline of every Saudi urban centre. The reason minarets rise above all surrounding structures is to allow the call to prayer to be clearly heard.


Every mosque has at least one minaret, although two are more common, and larger ones have more, with the Holy Mosque in Makkah boasting 12. Some are simple, while others are elaborately decorated with stone and tiles.


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