The Red Sea port city of Jeddah is known for many remarkable things, but perhaps the most universal on being Al-Balad, the city’s historic neighborhood filled with heritage buildings and centuries of rich history. It’s been announced recently that four female Saudi engineers, Al-Anoud Al-Sheikh, Sarah Abu Al-Hamayel, Dania Ba Issa, and Lajeen Badreeq, will begin efforts to restore and preserve this pride of the Kingdom, bringing in their expertise and skills to every stage of the project.
Their work, which involves preserving the original identity and architectural beauty of Al-Balad’s heritage buildings, is part of ongoing restoration works supported by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who pledged $13.33 million for the restoration project in 2019. The team of four will focus on documenting every single detail of Al-Balad’s buildings using various methods, from drone photography to laser scanning, and on ensuring the development project meets the goal of preserving the original identity of each structure.
Each one of the engineers will bring her core strengths to the restoration project to deliver the best results. Al-Sheikh will focus on comprehensive information gathering, documenting each historical building, Al-Hamayel will focus on restoration, reinforcement, and rescue of dilapidated structures, Ba Issa will ensure the buildings’ standards and their conformity with UNESCO standards, and Badreeq will take part in implementing the overall strategic plan with the UNESCO team.
Founded in the 7th century C.E., this UNESCO World Heritage Site once served as a center of trade and commerce for Jeddah. Today, the area is known by many in the Kingdom and beyond for its distinctive architectural style, particularly for its engraved wood features. According to Saudi Gazette, the new phase of restoration works in Al-Balad are part of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious plan to develop its tourism sector, offerings, and overall mechanism under its larger Vision 2030 strategy.