>> Here in Rijal Alma in southwestern Saudi Arabia, it's possible to see what might be achieved by investment in the Kingdom's architectural heritage. I'm Angus McDowall, reporting for Reuters, on a subject which is at the very heart of efforts to expand and diversify Saudi Arabia's economy. Saudi Arabia wants to spend money on preserving its heritage as part of a drive to increase tourism from pilgrims and from among its own citizens.
And it wants to spend money inside Saudi Arabia, rather than in their tourist destinations in Europe or other parts of the Middle East,. But its going to prove very difficult to locate the right investment to really protect its heritage, when so many beautiful old villages have fallen into such great disrepair.
Because Saudi Arabia grew rich so quickly, a large number of its old houses which came in many different styles, were abandoned by people who wanted the conveniences of modern houses. Unfortunately in the decades since that occurred, mostly in the 1960s and 70s, these houses, left unvalued, have fallen into great disrepair.
Some of them have crumbled entirely. Others are passed the point of salvation. Those people who do want to preserve Saudi cultural heritage are finding that as the years go pass, it grows ever more difficult and ever more expensive. And what they fear, is that in the end, all that will be left are a few landmark projects to preserve heritage, like this one, while others fall by the wayside.