London: The Saudi government has pledged to donate $30 million dollars to the preservation of its rich cultural heritage via the Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH) Foundation, whose work to "collective efforts" to "protect and rehabilitate cultural sites" were appreciated by KSA Minister for Culture, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan.
The prince expressed his appreciation for the efforts made by ALIPH's board of directors to protect cultural heritage that is under threat from conflicts. He said culture is a key aspect of the Kingdom's Vision 2030 development plan, and that his country takes an active role in protecting cultural heritage from a variety of threats and reducing the risk factors that can lead to its neglect and destruction.
Prince Badr said that "training specialists, empowering and supporting professional networks in the field of heritage" as well as strengthening international cooperation on the subject were important steps in the process, which he spoke at length about in the ALIPH Donors and Partners conference.
Meanwhile, Prince Badr, who is also governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla, and French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian chaired the first Franco-Saudi committee meeting to discuss the development of heritage in the governorate.
"AlUla's unique place in the (Franco-Saudi) partnership continues to develop across cultural, environmental, tourist, human and economic development sectors," the commission said.
Le Drian hailed the impact of the ALIPH Foundation as a counterbalance to the "destructive madness" unleashed in Iraq which resulted in the destruction of many archaeological sites.
Prince Badr and Le Drian had signed an agreement on December 4 to launch "Villa Hegra" in AlUla, which will bring the "French Villa" model to the Middle East through a unique combination of cultural, artistic, educational, culinary and community exchange and knowledge transfer.
The two sides will also collaborate on art residency programs and the exclusive Ferrandi-AlUla International College of Tourism and Hospitality, along with community activities, local artisanal craft workshops and intellectual discourse, Arab News reported.
"The Saudi-French partnership, with the collaboration of the Royal Commission for AlUla and the French Agency for AlUla Development, has been a successful model for nearly four years. And the best is yet to come," Prince Badr said in a message posted on Twitter.
The Kingdom shone a spotlight on culture during its presidency of the G20 in 2020 to highlight the role that the preservation of heritage can play in comprehensive and sustainable development, he added, and was elected by UNESCO to be vice-chair of World Heritage Committee for 2021 to 2023