Madina Governor Prince Abdul Aziz bin Majed has said the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah do not require any identity other than their religious status.
“Since Makka and Madina are indelibly marked with principles of monotheism and Islamic faith, the two cities do not need to look for another identity as many other cities in the world do,” Prince Abdul Aziz said on Monday while addressing a press conference at his palace after Madinah was declared the Islamic cultural capital of 2013.
Culture and Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja was also present.
“The cultural, historical, social and economic features of Madina qualify the ancient city for becoming the cultural capital of Islam besides making it a symbol of the unity of Muslims around the world,” the prince added.
Madina has remained a symbol of Islamic culture for centuries as it was the center from where the religion of Islam spread to all corners of the world. Millions of Muslims flock to the city to pay respects to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the prince said.
“It was a great honor to the Kingdom that both cities have been designated as cultural capitals of Islam over a period of 10 years. Makka was named as the cultural capital of 2003 and the turn of Madina comes in 2013,” the prince added.
The prince said the Kingdom would continue carrying the true message of Islam and would never cease to fight extremism.
On a question about opening up historical locations to visitors, the prince said some academic departments were entrusted with the task of preparing information about historical and archaeological locations and their task would be completed in 2013.
“Studies are under way to establish an academy to train the guides with knowledge in religious regulations and Islamic history so that they acquire skills in guiding visitors to historical locations, while taking care not to violate religious laws,” the prince said.
However, he added that all issues related to Islam’s historical locations would first be submitted in a study to the Council of Senior Religious Scholars.
He said a number of committees would be appointed to design the logo of the event and programs will be prepared with the collective participation of society.
He said the Madina Literary Club will have a considerable role in the event. “The occasion will not be monopolized by the people of Madina or the Kingdom, but the help of researchers in the Islamic world will be sought and each Muslim country will participate in a number of programs,” he said.
Assistant Director General of the Center for Madina Studies and Research Abdul Basit Badran said the studies made about the heritage of Madina are insufficient. “There is a clear deficiency in research on Madina. There are 400 sites of historical significance in Madina identified by King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities,” he said.