In 2008, the Al-Hijr Archeological Site (Madain Saleh) became the first Saudi Arabian property to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Little noticed for centuries, serious efforts to explore the site’s archeological significance only began in the past couple decades. As Saudi Arabia changes and attempts to transform its economy, Madain Saleh has been increasingly noted for its historical significance as well as its tourism potential.
Madain Saleh is Saudi Arabia’s pre-eminent pre-Islamic archeological site dating to the Nabataean kingdom in the first century. It was the southernmost settlement of the Nabataean people, whose capital was in Petra, Jordan. Muslims did not come here because they believed the site was cursed when the Nabataean’s refused to renounce their gods in favor of Islam. It’s the very absence of foot traffic, as well as Saudi Arabia’s dry desert climate, that has kept Madain Saleh so well intact. While Petra’s facades are slowly disintegrating, these tombs are stunningly well preserved.
Explore Paige Peterson's full photo essay on her visit to Madain Saleh, one of Saudi Arabia’s hidden treasures, here: Madain Saleh: An Archeological Marvel in the Saudi Arabian Desert.
About Paige Peterson:
Paige Peterson visited Madain Saleh on a recent trip to Saudi Arabia in her capacity as Executive Vice President of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, a position she has held since 2006, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.
The Huntsman Cancer Institute, founded by the late Jon M. Huntsman, Sr., is a leader in the study of cancer genetics. Its researchers have discovered more inherited cancer genes than any other cancer center. Its goal is to eradicate cancer worldwide. Ms. Peterson facilitated the partnership of Huntsman Cancer Institute and King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. They are now collaborating on cancer research.
As a member of the Board of Directors of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, Ms. Peterson shares the Council’s commitment to improving American knowledge and understanding of the Arab world. As a board member, she participates in the C3 Saudi-American Healthcare Forum, created to advance healthcare diplomacy.
She has written extensively about the Middle East. Her work has appeared in American and Arab media.
Before joining Huntsman, Ms. Peterson worked closely with Christopher Cerf, an award-winning author and television producer. She was a researcher and editor on several of Cerf’s books, including The Experts Speak and Mission Accomplished. The two were co-directors of a Welcome Books’ imprint, Cerf & Peterson, and co-authored a bestselling book, Blackie, The Horse Who Stood Still, which Ms. Peterson also illustrated. She also illustrated Jesse Kornbluth’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.
Born in Marin County, California, Ms. Peterson is also a painter who is represented by Gerald Peters Gallery in New York City. The prestigious Guild Hall Academy of the Arts in East Hampton has honored her with a lifetime membership.
Ms. Peterson lives in New York City.