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RIYADH: Unlike other companies that showcased the latest technology at Riyadh’s recent Made in Saudi exhibition, the Aloqailat Museum showed visitors the history and origins of the country’s industry.
The museum, which was established 22 years ago in Qassim, took visitors on a journey down memory lane about Saudi culture and how trade was once done.
“Aloqailat (trade) is a commercial profession that does not belong to a tribe or a family,” Abdulatif Alwehibi, owner of the museum and author of the Aloqailat Encyclopedia, told Arab News.
“These are traders who export camels and horses from Najd to all markets in Arab countries. They go to trade and come back with things they don’t have in their country. They also export valuable spices and deliver sheep, ghee and weapons. Because of this, their reputation spread widely and they made a name for themselves.
The museum displays the tools and other items important to their business, such as guns, saddles, large pouches, ropes, everything related to the care and trade of camels, as well as how they protected themselves when it was about traveling.
During the exhibition, the museum presented three life-size camels in a desert setting and two characters telling the story of traders.
“This parade of two men in the desert surrounded by camels tells the story of the lack of security in the past because there were many thieves and many looting operations. In the display you see that there are men who hide behind the camel to protect themselves from thieves.The heads of the camels act like a radar, so if they see a stranger, their behavior immediately changes to warn their owners.
During the pilgrimage season, the Aloqailats, who participated in business and commerce, provided a number of horses and 500 camels to pilgrims from Medina and Mecca after an official order from King Abdulaziz.
Zakaria Alwehibi, the museum’s deputy supervisor, said the king loved the Aloqailats and gathered them near him.
“As a thank you to King Abdulaziz, he appointed Aloqailats to high positions. They founded the Riyadh police, established the armed forces, and served as the first ambassadors and ministers during the reign of King Abdulaziz.
He spoke about a trader called Sheikh Al-Fawzan, who is considered the reason for the discovery of oil in the Arabian Peninsula.
The story dates back to 1927, when he was Saudi Arabia’s first ambassador to Egypt. He was known for his love and passion for breeding purebred Arabian horses and he was the most famous horse breeder in Egypt.
“Charles Crane, an American businessman with a passion for Arabian horses, was hosted by Sheikh Al-Fawzan in Egypt in his stable. Crane asked about Fawzan’s horses and later received a horse from him as a bounty.
“Crane sent a message to Al-Fawzan with his desire to explore oil in the Kingdom. Then he received an invitation from the Minister of Industry. I think our contribution to the exhibition is important because the Aloqailat’s story is important to exist because people love its story.
The museum’s exhibit at the Made in Saudi event included more than 50 paintings highlighting the role of the Aloqailats in the Kingdom’s commercial industries, manuscripts dating back over a century, and more than 50 local and international participants to show the secular history of Aloqailats.
Abdulatif invited people to visit the original Qassim museum, saying it had a rich history that all citizens should know.
The Qassim Museum, which has more than 3,500 photos, aims to preserve the industrial and commercial heritage of the Kingdom and to merge history, heritage and culture.
The Made in Saudi exhibition showcased thousands of products from more than 150 local companies and manufacturers. There were also workshops and lectures covering a range of topics.