Between supporters and opponents.. Controversy over the walls of houses in Saudi Arabia

The idea of ​​a house without a fence

Al – Majed Hattab

Published in: May 13, 2023: 05:29 PM GST
Last updated: May 13, 2023: 06:30 PM GST

Recently, there has been a wide debate among specialists and those interested in architectural and social affairs in Saudi Arabia, about the walls of houses in Saudi Arabia, between supporters and opponents of their role and benefit and the fact that they distort the public view.

This controversy came with an initiative that began through government buildings launched by the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, which, after removing their walls decades after their establishment, said that it is an “initiative to humanize cities and improve the urban landscape,” and to keep pace with the country’s green trends.

In this regard, architect Nasser Al-Mutairi told that the walls are a problem fabricated by the legislator himself, as these legislations are old and not valid for all times, and must be issued by young and bright minds according to architectural plans and visions that are distinguished by an insightful look.

Depression increases

He added, “From an engineering and physical point of view, it blocks the sun and wind, prevents the influence of fresh air, and collects dust,” in addition to harming its residents, isolating them, making them depressed and suspicious, and increasing the incidence of hidden crime.

He also believes: “The legislator should provide, instead of the house’s wall, a semi-public setback at the disposal of the owner and owned by the state, in addition to converting the front setback into a central or backyard. It is unfortunate that the new neighborhoods and plans still follow the fencing system.”

He cited the lifestyle of the nomadic Bedouins on the land of the homeland, as they did not use fences and rejected the illusion of privacy, and about the society’s refusal to remove the walls, he mentioned that they are used to it, so when architects reject it for specialized reasons, they do not accept it because it touches their conscience and coexistence with it since their childhood, claiming that it is the origin.

Privacy and social culture

For his part, said Dr. Khaled Al-Rudaian, a professor of sociology at King Saud University, told that house walls are not a “healthy invention” as some claim, indicating that the existence of a wall is linked to privacy and is not only the belief of Saudis.

And he believes that society separates the sexes, as evidenced by the architectural style setting one section for men and another for women, but removing the walls reveals the vision of women, which causes harassment, and in his speech: I do not know what logic some architects speak while they are fully aware that building the house is linked to the culture and traditions of society, The wall is not brick and cement, but a social culture and protection for the home from thieves and intruders.

It is noteworthy that the Saudi Ministry of Culture began removing its walls in one of its branches in Jeddah Governorate on May 11, in a move that was well received by some.

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