In ‘Roads of Arabia,’ dusting off ideas about a kingdom and civilization

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A major exhibition of ancient objects excavated in the Arabian Peninsula opens Saturday at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

“Roads of Arabia: Archeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” organized by the Sackler Gallery and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, is the first U.S. venue for the exhibit and part of the gallery’s 25th-anniversary celebration.

The collection includes more than 200 objects, ranging from alabaster bowls, gold earrings and bronze statues to early 20th-century photographs of Mecca, Medina and Riyadh. Officials said they hope the exhibit will enhance understanding of a nation often viewed simply as the world’s largest exporter of oil.

“This is a new window to see a country that has never been thought of or seen in the arena of heritage, development of civilization, and culture,” said Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, son of the Saudi crown prince and president of the Saudi tourism commission, who was in town Wednesday to promote the exhibit....

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