Saudi Arabia’s beautiful ancient architecture

We mostly see pictures of gleaming high rises and glittering malls when the news reports on the country. But there is beautiful domestic architecture in Saudi Arabia as well. The Farasan Islands are know for their wonderful sea life, but some beautiful remains of houses can be seen as well.

Farasan island


farasan island 2

The historic centre of Jeddah, ”Al Balad” (the city) is much neglected and run down, an application for it to become a UNESCO world heritage site has been rejected. The representative said the dismissal of the Kingdom’s application was purely down to technical reasons, as Jeddah’s historical sites had been subjected to negligence and misuse from people who did not recognize its value. He said the negligence had greatly influenced ICOMOS’ decision.

saudi  architecture 2

Most of the restauration work has been done by individuals.  Jeddah residents have moved away from Al Balad, which is now mostly inhabited by immigrants and  very poor people. At Ramadan the place is very busy, All jeddawis visit Al Balad at Ramadan. The buildings are made of fragile coral rock, and many houses are crumbling and the rubble litters the streets according to visitors. Visitors also complain about the dirt and the litter and garbage yet all agree if one is in Jeddah al Balad is a ”must see”!

saudi architecture 2

One of the most beautiful houses is Naseef house which has become a museum.

saudi architecture 3

The Bedouin houses have a special charm, with their white decorations on mud walls. Building with mud is an ancient technique. While it needs frequent upkeep, mud structures can last for centuries. It’s cheap, eco-friendly and sustainable. And you can make beautiful buildings with mud.

old saudi mud house

This an old photo from maybe the 70s, so I suppose this amazing house has disappeared by now.

Old saudi najran house

Old multiple story mud house in Najran. These ridges, sometimes made with flat stones, are to stop the rains from washing away too much mud.

old Saudi najran house inside


Old house in Yanbu

saudi architecture 1

Traditiona house interior

7 Responses

  1. If it’s not Saudi/Wahhabi made, it’s Beda’h. Cultural and heritage cleansing is part of the theocratic and autocratic dynasties claim to the country as their private property.

  2. Really interesting and beautiful. Too bad it is being allowed to disappear.

  3. Beautiful. I hate to see any old buildings removed. Fortunately, we now have photography to capture the beauty for later generations. You could do a tabletop book with these!

  4. The 3rd picture ( white with bits of color) is stunning, must be preserved , how can civilised society let it go to rot.

  5. I also think that it would be pointless in many ways to have a UNESCO heritage site in a country that rarely allows tourists unless they are Muslim.

  6. Last picture is fantastic!

  7. In Nakhl which has the highest fort in Oman, standing proudly on top of a hilltop, photo stop. Proceed to the Al Thowara Oasis where one can witness the source of the natural springs. Between Nakhl and Rustaq a hidden road leads up a 2000m high part of the Hajar Mountain range. Stop at Wadi Bani Auf where the main attraction is the old houses nestled on the slopes of the mountain and this Wadi is also well known as the “snake gorge” because of the wide variety of desert snakes that live here. Proceed to Bilad Sayt a village that is famous for its clay houses and the Oasis in which the village population lives. There is also an old family that breeds bees and produces natural honey (one can also buy a bottle of the precious nectar from this small family production). After this visit, enjoy a picnic lunch at the peak of the Hajar Mountain. After lunch we proceed to the villages of Al Hamra and Misfah also known as Misfat Al Abreen. The village of Al Hamra which boasts a set of ancient ruins and provides the viewers a beautiful panoramic photo stop from the top where the village is situated on a hillock. Misfah is a typical Omani village that gives guests an insight of how the locals used to live centuries ago. The houses are made of clay and mud in order to keep the interior cool even during the summer months. Misfah has a falaj system and green terraces which provides the population of Oasis dwellers abundant bounty in terms of fruits (mango, papaya, banana and dates) and vegetables in spite of the dry vegetation elsewhere.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: