Daily Articles
A Window into Heritage 37

Dr. Nada AbdulAziz AlNafea, King AbdulAziz University

Women’s experience with built heritage in Saudi is both difficult and complicated. Maybe that is because, currently, it is difficult for a woman to travel to heritage areas given they have been deserted. Women yearn for such places to be revived.   I say this while going through multiple experiences with female students of interior design, College of Home Economics, KAU. Students have for two consecutive years now presented graduation projects in both Old Jeddah last year and Dahu District in Riyadh this year. In both cases, there were many difficulties that render built heritage studies in Saudi almost impossible for females and might just limit future participation. The problem, as I see it, does not just lie in academic projects, because we cannot not expect there to be appropriate built heritage revival without women taking part. Women make up half of society and we cannot expect there to be a balanced revival of historical areas without there being a natural social revival and without economically enabling families. We must convince women to return to old areas and practice life and work there. All these inquiries make the issue of ‘women and built heritage’ one with its own specificity and own set of requirements. This alone requires a special domain that focuses on studies conducted by females on built heritage, and requires that investment views of heritage should be directed in a way that attracts all family members and not just one that distances women. In truth, the academic task experienced by the faculty has opened many issues and topics that may not have been that obvious before. We think it is necessary to consider these topics and make them a priority in the future when thinking of any development and rehabilitation projects for built heritage. Women are active key partners in society, and I believe that the preservation of built heritage will greatly depend on our ability to mitigate obstacles facing Saudi women in the future, so that they can return to historical areas and revive them.