The King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh played host to a prestigious international conference focused on the history of Islamic currency. Gathering experts from around the world, the conference aimed to delve into the fascinating field of numismatics while celebrating International Museum Day on May 18. Organised by the Saudi Museums Commission, the event not only sought to preserve and promote the Kingdom’s cultural heritage but also explored avenues for expanding the museum sector through research and tourism.
The Historic Importance of Islamic Coins
Islamic coins hold immense historical and cultural significance, reflecting the rich heritage of the Arabic world and its contributions to the global stage. This conference shed light on the pivotal role played by female rulers in shaping the course of history, as highlighted by Dr. Alain Baron in his session titled “The Great Queens of Islam.” Baron, a renowned numismatist and founder of Numismatica Genevensis S.A., emphasised the courage and intelligence exhibited by female leaders such as Shajjar Al-Durr and Zubaidah bint Ja’far, the first queen in the Islamic world to strike coins under her own name.
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Pioneering the Study of Islamic Coins
With a Ph.D. in numismatics from Vienna and Rome, Dr. Alain Baron brings extensive experience in governmental and museum projects to the table. His Geneva-based company, Numismatica Genevensis S.A., has been instrumental in the sale and auctioning of coins, frequently smashing price records since its inception in 2000. Dr. Baron highlighted the pivotal role of Islamic coins in shaping cultural identities, not only within the Arabic world but on a global scale.
Arabization of the Byzantine Dinar
Another notable speaker, Dr. Ahmed Desouky, an associate professor in Cairo University’s Islamic archaeology department, captivated the audience with his session on the Arabization of the Byzantine dinar. Dr. Desouky highlighted the significant historical transition to pure Arab Islamic money, which elevated the Islamic state to the same level as other dominant powers of the time, particularly the Byzantine state. This development signified the rise and establishment of a new world power.
Platform for Cultural Preservation and Promotion
The international conference not only served as a gathering of minds but also provided a platform for the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage. By organising such events, the Saudi Museums Commission demonstrates its commitment to showcasing the Kingdom’s rich history and cultural treasures to a global audience. The discussions at the conference emphasised the importance of research and tourism in expanding the museum sector, allowing for greater accessibility and understanding of Islamic numismatics.
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The international conference held in Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District focused on the captivating field of Islamic numismatics. By celebrating International Museum Day and exploring the historic significance of Islamic coins, the event aimed to preserve, define, and promote the Kingdom’s cultural heritage. Speakers such as Dr. Alain Baron and Dr. Ahmed Desouky shared their extensive knowledge, shedding light on the influential role of female rulers and the Arabization of the Byzantine dinar, respectively. Through this conference, the Saudi Museums Commission successfully highlighted the importance of coins in shaping cultural identities, not only within the Arabic world but worldwide, paving the way for a deeper appreciation of Islamic currency and its historical impact.