PHOTOGRAPHS of Saudi Arabia taken by one of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters in the year oil was first discovered in the Kingdom are to go on public display in Scotland for the first time in Europe’s oil capital.
Aberdeen University is to host the exhibition of pictures taken by Princess Alice Countess of Athlone in 1938 which capture the personalities, customs, traditions and a way of life in the Middle Eastern country which was about to change forever.
A university spokeswoman said: “Princess Alice was the first member of any European royal family to travel to Saudi Arabia and, as a keen photographer, she and her entourage, including her husband the Earl of Athlone, chronicled their journey in a series of pictures of places and events from meeting King Abudlaziz and his sons in Jeddah to travelling across the desert, their cars often trapped in sand and having to be physically pulled out by rope.
“Her visit coincided with a pivotal moment in Saudi Arabia’s history as Princess Alice was in Saudi Arabia when commercial quantities of oil were first discovered.”
The photographs are now part of the archive of the King Abdulaziz Public Library in Riyadh and have been loaned for the exhibition which runs until mid January in the university’s MacRobert Building.
Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the UK said: “I am delighted that this exhibition is now going on show in Aberdeen - the UK’s oil capital.
“The unification of Saudi Arabia in 1932 by King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud, or Ibn Saud as the West has come to know him, and the discovery of oil in 1938 has led to extraordinary development in Saudi Arabia with the establishment of a world class infrastructure.”
He added: “The Saudi Arabia of Princess Alice has vanished with the march of progress and these photographs are a unique and valuable link to the past. But what has not changed is the welcome and warmth of the Saudi people towards our many friends amongst whom we include the people of Aberdeen, many of whom have worked alongside us over the past 80 years.”