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You Can Soon Visit the Birthplaces of Prominent Pre-Islamic Arab Poets in Saudi Arabia

Writers and poetry enthusiasts in Saudi Arabia are in for a treat, as the Kingdom is gearing up to celebrate pre-Islamic Arab poets in a grand way.

saudi arabia poets

The home of poet Hatim Al Tai. Photo: Courtesy of Saudi Tourism

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture has embarked on a new initiative that will see the Kingdom honor some of the greatest Arab poets to come out of the pre-Islamic period. As part of the landmark project, Saudi Arabia will document the historic sites where the renowned poets lived or were associated with them throughout their lives. The initiative—in collaboration between the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing, and Ministry of Transport—is an extension of 2023’s Year of Arabic Poetry, and seeks to confirm Saudi Arabia’s central position in Arab culture.

A majority of the sites that will be documented in the project are located within the capital city of Riyadh, while others are spread across the city, and include Al-Baha, Al-Ahsa, Taif, Hail, Madinah, Asir, and Najran, as well as Al-Shanana Tower in the city of Al-Rass, in the Al-Qassim region. The poets that will be honored at some of these sites are Laila Al-Akhiliya, Majnun Laila, Imru’ Al-Qais, and Labid bin Rabi’ah. What’s more, the comprehensive initiative will also document the individual journies of the most renowned Arab poets via the paths they crossed throughout history such as the poet Al-Shanfari, who was born and raised in the village of Salaman; Al-Saltan Al-Abdi, who lived in Jabal Al-Buraiqa; Tarafa bin Al-Abd in Jabal Al-Qara; Ali bin Al-Muqarrab Al-Ayouni in Al-Oyoun Park and Al-Nabigha Al-Dhibani who was associated with Souk Okaz.

Other sites include the homes of the poets Hatem Al-Ta’i in Hail, Hassan bin Thabit in the battlefield of Uhud, Al-Khansa’ in Madinah, Abd Yaghouth Al-Harthy, who lived in a site that currently includes Prince Jalawi bin Abdul-Aziz Park in Najran, and Ibn Al-Dumina, in the historic city of Al-Abala in Asir. The documentation process will involve allowing easy access to these sites, installing sign boards linking them to the poets, and introducing salient features of their poems, especially the ‘Suspended Odes’ in the history of Arab culture.

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