Riyadh | Immediately after his arrival here, Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday visited the Masmak fortress, a clay and mud-brick complex built around 1865, that is a major symbol of recapture of power by the Al Saud royal dynasty which has been running the country for over a century.
Modi took a round of the Masmak fort where Saudi officials explained to him the historical importance of the complex in the commercial centre of the old city of Riyadh. The fort, a famous attraction of Riyadh, has four watchtowers and thick walls, founded on stone blocks.
This building played a major part in the Kingdom’s history as it was here that the recapture of Riyadh, led by Ibn Saud, had taken place on January 14, 1902. Modi spent around half-an-hour at the fortress and a member of the Royal family Saud bin Sultan bin Abdullah Al-Saud accompanied him.
Privileged to have visited the Masmak Fort which has a significant place in the history of Saudi Arabia, Modi wrote in the visitor’s book. He further wrote, The arches, the extensive courtyards in the fortress not only reflected the glorious history of the Kingdom but are also testimony to the impressive Arab architecture.
The building was built around 1865 by the Prince of Riyadh Abdulrahman ibn Sulaiman ibn Dabaan who was from the clan of Mohammed ibn Abdullah ibn Rasheed who had wrested control of the city from the rival clan of Al Saud. In January 1902, the young Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman bin Faisal Al Saud, who was at the time living in exile in Kuwait, succeeded in capturing the Masmak fortress from Rashid.
The event, which restored Al Saud control over Riyadh, has acquired almost mythical status in the history of Saudi Arabia and has been retold many times with its central theme of heroism and bravery. It was used by King Abdulaziz from 1902 to 1938 when he moved his court to then newly-built Murabba Palace. At the beginning of the 1980s, the fort was renovated.