Conserving and interpreting the Hijaz Railway in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Orbaşlı, Aylin and Woodward, Simon (2005) Conserving and interpreting the Hijaz Railway in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In: 15th ICOMOS General Assembly and International Symposium: ‘Monuments and sites in their setting - conserving cultural heritage in changing townscapes and landscapes’, 17 – 21 oct 2005, Xi'an, China. [Conference or Workshop Item]


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Abstract (in English)

The Hijaz Railway was constructed in the early part of the twentieth century to link the Levant with Islam’s Holy cities of Madinah and Mekkah. The railway was never completed beyond Madinah and its operational life was cut short by the First World War, never to be revived again. Today only a few sections in Syria and Jordan still function. The significance of the ‘route’ as it passes through the Hijaz, however, lies not just in the railway but in the many other activities that it has supported.. Prior to the emergence of Islam the same artery was used by Frankincense traders moving from Oman to the Eastern Mediterranean ports. Later the same route was used by pilgrims travelling from Egypt, Turkey, Syria and Jordan, a function it continues to fulfil. Today in Saudi Arabia, the track bed remains a palimpsest in the desert landscape. Most of the railway buildings lie abandoned, with the exception of Tabuk station, a depot near Al Ula and the terminus building in Madinah, recently converted into a Railway Museum. This paper considers the potential role of the Hijaz Railway as a ‘cultural route’ in stimulating heritage tourism in Saudi Arabia. In doing so the paper considers how the wider Islamic and pre-Islamic cultural heritage of the route can be better preserved, interpreted and developed

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Orbaşlı, Aylin
Woodward, Simon
Languages: English
Keywords: cultural route; pilgrimage route; tourism; conservation; interpretation
H.HERITAGE TYPOLOGIES > 07. Cultural routes
I.CULTURAL TOURISM > 02. Tourism management
Name of monument, town, site, museum: Hijaz Railway, Saudi Arabia
ICOMOS Special Collection: Scientific Symposium (ICOMOS General Assemblies)
ICOMOS Special Collection Volume: 2005, 15th
Depositing User: Jose Garcia
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2010 14:30
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2023 13:35
References: 1. British War Office Reports 1907, available in Records of the Hijaz 1798–1925, vol 6: 1900–1909 ed. A.L.P. Burdett, Archive Editions 1996.

2. Burman, P. and Stratton, M. (eds) Conserving the Railway Heritage. London and New York: Spon Press, 1997.

3. Cornell, J. ‘Conserving Railway Heritage.’ The Building Conservation Directory (2003) 96–99.

4. Hicaz Demiryolu (The Hijaz Railway) 7 hour documentary.

5. Howard, P. Heritage: Management, Interpretation, Identity. London and New York: Continuum, 2003.

6. Khammash, A. ‘Hijaz Railway Amman Station or Where time stood still.’ Mahjoob, 04.08.2002 ( Accessed on 24.08.2005)

7. Peirard, P. and Legros, P. Off-Road in the Hejaz, UAE: Motivate Publishing, 2001 (second edition).

8. Supreme Commission for Tourism. National Tourism Plan for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Phase I, Section 1.09: Cultural Heritage. 2001.

9. Supreme Commission for Tourism. Provincial Tourism Masterplan for Al Madinah Al Munawarrah Province. 2003.

10. Supreme Commission for Tourism. Provincial Tourism Masterplan for Tabuk Province. 2004.

11. Timothy, D.J. and Boyd, S.W. Heritage Tourism. England: Prentice Hall, 2003.

12. Tschanz, D.W. ‘Journeys of Faith, Roads of Civilisation.’ Saudi Aramco World. Vol 55, No 1. January/February 2004 ( .of.civilisation.htm Accessed on 26.06.2005)

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