JEDDAH: Prince Sultan bin Salman, chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding with Makkah Mayor Osama Al-Bar to strengthen cooperation between the two organizations.
Under the agreement, the Ain Zubaida water supply system, urban centers in Jabal Al-Nour and Jabal Al-Thour, and some historic buildings and wells in Makkah would be developed.
Development activities will also cover the townships of Asfan, Jamoum, Hudaibiya, Yalamlam, Zaima and Madeek. The SCTA will carry out studies and prepare plans for development work. It will also provide technical support and expertise to develop historic sites.
“The development of these historical sites and monuments will not only protect them but also promote domestic tourism,” the statement said.
The commission will invite municipality officials to visit foreign countries to learn from their experiences in developing historical places.
Under the agreement, the municipality will carry out renovation work at historical sites in Makkah and support the SCTA’s efforts to protect them. It will also document historical sites across Makkah in coordination with the commission.
“It will manage and operate these sites after renovating them,” the statement said. The municipality will also control the development of real estate near historical sites.
The SCTA will supervise the quality of tourism services provided by various institutions in Makkah. A joint committee comprising SCTA and municipality officials would be set up to set out rules and regulations for hotels, furnished apartments, tour operators, tourist guides and other related activities.
The two organizations will encourage handicrafts and assist people engaged in handicraft to sell their products; their activities will be organized inside popular markets and workshops will be conducted for them.
The SCTA and the municipality will cooperate to develop natural tourist sites under the municipality and service centers along expressways. The municipality will also establish gardens and grass areas around these places. It will also clean developed tourist sites and others which have historical significance.
The two sides will form a joint panel of experts to explore prospects of expanding cooperation. The SCTA had earlier signed a partnership deal with the Municipality and Rural Affairs Ministry.
Ain Zubaida is one of the oldest water sources in Makkah and the holy sites. Zubaida bint Jafar, the wife of Caliph Harun Al-Rashid, bore the costs of many charitable projects on pilgrim routes, which included the drilling of wells and the construction of ponds for water known as Ain Zubaida or Zubaida’s Springs. The ruins of these springs remain till this day dotted along old pilgrim routes
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