RIYADH — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the accompanying high-ranking delegation visited the historic Al-Masmak Palace here Saturday evening.
Upon arrival at the castle, Modi was received by Prince Saud Bin Sultan Bin Abdullah, researcher at the International Cooperation Department of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH); Dr. Ali Bin Ibrahim Al-Ghabban, vice chairman of SCTH for antiquities and museums’ affairs, and Nasser Al-Arifi, director of the museum.
Modi was briefed by Al-Ghabban on the salient features of the palace and its historic position, describing it as one of the historical landmarks in the capital city. The prime minister also watched a video, presenting various phases of the struggle of King Abdulaziz in capturing Riyadh and starting the unification of Saudi Arabia. Modi toured the palace and witnessed the displayed antiques, rare pictures and paintings. Al-Ghabban presented Modi a memento from Prince Sultan Bin Salman, president of SCTH, on the occasion.
After King Abdulaziz captured Riyadh in 1901, he built the palace on the site where his forefathers had ruled. For more than 30 years this was his home and his headquarters, where he ran his military and political campaigns to conquer and unify the Arabian Peninsula. It remained the seat of national government until his death in 1953. Last September, for the first time, the royal family opened the palace to the public, with a free exhibition celebrating the unusual coincidence of the Saudi National Day and Eid Al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice.
The enormous palace covers 11,500 sq. meters. When it was built, it was the largest structure in Riyadh, which was then not more than a provincial town of adobe buildings surrounded by a wall.