London Exhibits Saudi Arabia Majestic Beginnings

A collection of remarkable historic photographs taken by Princess Alice, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria is being exhibited in London. This rare collection documents the first British royal visit to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1938 and that of the only member of the British royal family to have met King Abdulaziz the founder of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This exhibition was inaugurated by Saudi Ambassador Prince Mohamed bin Nawaf Bin Abdelaziz and descendents of Princess Alice as well as more than 100 distinguished guests. Fifty rare pictures from a collection of more than three hundred are being displayed at the royal geographic society in central London. Much of the collection, which is entitled "journey of a lifetime", was taken by Princess Alice, who was a very keen photographer. It documents her three-week venture to Saudi Arabia where she was warmly greeted by King AbdulAziz the father of all subsequent monarchs including the present King Abdullah. Among the rarest pictures is one of King Abdulaziz with his sons Faisal and Fahd who both became kings themselves, and the current custodian of the two holy mosques King Abdullah also appears on in this picture. Princess Alice, her husband the earl of Athlone and her entourage were entertained across Arabia from west to east and experienced the hospitality of the Saudi Royal family. Princess Alice took pictures of historical sites and the architecture of old towns. These provide a glimpse of Saudi Arabia when the kingdom was just emerging and as oil was being discovered. Sir Allen Monroe, former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia said: if you look at some of these pictures they are very intimate, they are groups of friends together and they show the life of the towns in a way many people in this country and Saudi Arabia probably do not realize. I hope some schools in the kingdom can have the benefit of seeing these photographs because they are a record of their country's history at a very important stage in the creation of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This collection illustrates an extraordinary journey, pivotal in influencing the positive relationship between the UK and Saudi Arabia. The whole collection of more than 300 photographs belongs to the king Abdulaziz public library in Riyadh and it has loaned 50 pictures to the British royal geographical society to exhibit until August 21. This exhibition is part of a campaign to raise awareness about Saudi Arabia among the British public, to show how it was over 80 years ago and to highlight the relationship between the two royal families. By: Mostapha Zarou Al Arabiya

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