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Retired Saudi AF colonel turns house to museum

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Retired Saudi AF colonel turns house to museum
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Source: Arab News

Jeddah: A retired colonel of the Royal Saudi Air Force has turned his home into a museum, reports Arab News. 82-year-old Darwish Salamah, who served as the first pilot trainer in the Royal Saudi Air Force, had crashed his Saber jet fighter in the Arabian Gulf during a training session 60 years ago. He sustained a spinal injury from his crash and retired. He found his passion in building models, which eventually made his home a place of visit.

Salamah has filled his house with models of buildings from the Hijaz and Asir regions, cars, aeroplanes and decorated mosques in various sizes and shapes, which brought forth history.

He said that though he entered the real estate business after retirement, made money and built his own house in Jeddah, he felt bored after a certain period. He was not used to sitting idle and decided to fill the emptiness by making models of heritage houses and mosques.

As one who had not excelled in the craft, he started to work with steel and concrete with the assistance of two Bangladeshi workers, who are still with him. When he became familiar with the building technique, Salamah said, he started building more complex and smaller handmade pieces. Through the last 47 years, Salamah has created around 1,000 artefacts from concrete over wooden frames and steel netting with zero previous experience.

He asserts that he is no artist, but it seems debatable. He has documented 48 mosques that were removed during the expansion of the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah, among his other works.

His works were exhibited at Jeddah Corniche for 20 years, a popular attraction for visitors, before the city administration removed them. He uses sources for models and inspiration, mostly from magazines or newspapers. But at times, he visits mosques and uses their photographs for details when he builds them.

He told Arab News that the late president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak was his instructor at Egyptian Air Academy when Salamah was studying in Egypt during the Second Arab-Israeli war. Salamah added that he learned a lot from Mubarak.

Among those who visited him and lauded his work are many dignitaries, including the former governor of the Makkah region, Prince Majid bin Abdul Abdul Aziz, who admired his models, the former Minister of Information Dr Muhammad Abdu Yamani and Prince Andrew, Duke of York.

While expressing his thanks to those who visit his works, he added that he hopes his children would continue his work in the future.

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TAGS:Saudi News Middle East Updates 
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