King Abdulaziz Library showcases rare photographs of Makkah, Madinah at Islamic Arts Biennale

JEDDAH: The King Abdulaziz Public Library is presenting a collection of rare photographs at the Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah until April 23, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The event — called “Awwal Bait,” which means “First House” — will display the first photographs of Makkah and Madinah, taken by Egyptian army engineer Muhammad Sadiq Bey in 1881, as well as four books he wrote about his visits to the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque. The books probe society and urban life in the Kingdom’s Western Region during the last half of the 19th century. 

The King Abdulaziz Public Library boasts one of the rarest collections of photographs in the world, with 5,564 original pictures captured by some of the most renowned photographers.

The collection includes many taken by travelers, sea captains, military personnel, envoys, consuls and politicians who visited the region from the middle of the 19th century until the beginning of the 21st century.