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Diriyah yesterday and today

The At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah was the first capital of the Saudi Dynasty, in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, north-west of Riyadh. Founded in the 15th century, it bears witness to the Najdi architectural style, which is specific to the centre of the Arabian Peninsula. In the 18th and the early 19th century, its regional political and religious role increased, and the citadel of at-Turaif became the centre of the temporal power of the House of Saud and the spread of the Islamic reform movement in Arabia, Wahhabism.

Home of Abdul Aziz
Islamic Urban Heritage
Young Faisal, Abdul Aziz, Jerusalem, Allenby, Thomas E. Lawrence, Makkah
Photoshop collage by Eloise Shim

The property includes the remains of many palaces and an urban ensemble built on the edge of the ad-Dir'iyah oasis. The citadel of at-Turaif is representative of a diversified and fortified urban ensemble within an oasis. It comprises many palaces and is an outstanding example of the Najdi architectural and decorative style characteristic of the centre of the Arabian Peninsula.

Faisal, one of the sons of Abdul Aziz, and another Faisal, the son of Sharif Hussein both became kings in the Hejaz. The son of Sharif Hussein became the King of Iraq, and the other became the King of Saudi Arabia in the 20th century. King Abdullah, the other son of Sharif Hussein became the King of Transjordan.

Two prominent figures from Great Britian were Thomas Lawrence and General Allenby; diplomatically and militarily respectively. From central Arabia, in the Diriyah province, the House of Saud became under the Abdul Wahab influence and putting an end to the pagan influence that had started in the region to a return to Islam strictly according to the Quran and Sunnah.

Faisal, was brought to the throne after his brother was abdicated through a coup d'etat, but he ended up assassinated by his nephew, who shot him point blank in the "majlis" sitting reception room. The motive was unclear, but it was thought that he was either acting in retaliation of his brother, a prince, who had been shot by a policeman because he was against the advent of television programming in the kingdom; or he may have been temporarily insane due to his intake of whiskey, late hours, boredom brought on by a more restrictive atmosphere than he had experienced while visiting the United States. Despite Faisal's wish that his nephew not be executed on his deathbed, he was executed by beheading in the public square three hours before sunset.

King Faisal was killed in 1972, and King Khalid took over after Faisal's death. King Khalid found the position most stressful and was angered by the media's depiction of the movie, "Death of a Princess" and shortly after Faisal's death was shown on the local television news crying, which was out of character for an Arab man.

The Saudi kings now maintain the responsibility as the Custodians of the Holy Mosques, and instead of walking or riding on mule or car to the Hajj sites like Mount Arafat, the Jamarat (the pillars that people throw pebbles on representing Satan) and the Kaaba itself, which is the home of the Zamzam well, there are high-speed rails to carry the pilgrims to the various sites.

Hajar, the prophet Ibrahim's wife, was the inheritor of the Zamzam well. The ownership of wells and buildings of oasis' in the desert is a way of placing title on tribes. The longer a tribe has had influence over the water supply, the longer the memory of ancestry and heredity in a region that can trace it's inhabitants back 50 to 80 thousand years.

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