Saudi Underwater Archaeologist Unearths Maritime Links With China

ALBILAD Daily English Online — In Saudi Arabia, a young archaeologist has been assiduously applying what he learned in China towards discovering and preserving cultural heritage of his country. As head of the China-Saudi Archaeology Program, Mahdi al-Qarani has been both a witness to and a participant of the vibrant dialogue of civilizations.

Mahdi can still recall the months studying in China, almost seven years after concluding the underwater archaeology training program.

It was his first visit to East Asia. He was equipped with no practical knowledge about China, apart from what he could garner from books and newspapers. However, the instructors and fellow students soon made him part of the team.

Mahdi said: “I can never forget my experience in China. It was very inspiring and instructive. I made lots of friends. And their professionalism and expertise was so impressive. I benefited most from the team spirit. All of us worked as part of a team. The attitude and skills at collaboration are essential for an archaeologist.”

During his stay in China, Mahdi studied the history of the ancient Maritime Silk Road, exploration and charting of marine terrains, and preservation of cultural heritage.

Following the training, he signed up for a joint program between China and Saudi Arabia about the ruins of Al-Serrian, in the west of his country.

Mahdi said: “We’ve unearthed porcelain and other ceramics imported from China centuries ago. A set of weights we discovered bears a close resemblance to those found in China. They’re evidence of the ancient trade between China and Saudi Arabia.“

Earlier this year, Mahdi revisited China to attend a meeting on cultural cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative. It made him feel confident about the future of dialogue among the world’s civilizations.