This time Al Ula is opening to public too
Medina: Al Ula is an open air museum in the North West of Saudi Arabia, which includes the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage site. This tourist place will re-open for public, for the first time, from this October.
As the Royal Commission for Al Ula continues to develop Al Ula into a pre-eminent global tourism destination, it is the Saudi residents who will be the first visitors to experience the re-opening of one of the undiscovered wonders of the world. Al Ula’s winter Tantora arts festival consists of abundant archaeological sites. Until recently, the site had a restricted access. From October onwards, this will be accessible to public and that too for all the year round. With a focus firmly on conservation and responsible tourism, the Royal Commission for Al Ula has been transforming Al Ula into a must-visit culture and heritage destination.
There are important heritage sites, cultural touring options and even a range of adventure experiences that await the visitors. “With the rebound of the travel sector undoubtedly starting close to home, KSA residents within a drive or a short flight of Al Ula will get a head start on experiencing the raw, natural beauty and monumentality of landscapes in their backyard”, said Phillip Jones, Chief Destination Officer, RCU. The place is welcome to overnight visitors too, where they can choose from five accommodation providers each with its own take on desert luxury. Al Ula’s accommodation stock is set to progressively increase to more than 9,400 rooms by 2035.
As per the reports, there are now four heritage sites accessible for public:
- Hegra – a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2008
- Dadan – one of the most developed 1st millennium BCE (Before Current Era) cities of the Arabian Peninsula
- Jabal Ikmah – often referred to as the ‘Lihyanite library’, offering insights to ancient beliefs, rituals and practices of every day life.
- Old town – the ancient walled city of Al Ula which has been at the crossroad of civilisations from the twelfth century CE
However, the diverse experience, one can feel at Al Ula is not confined to these heritage sites. Walks, treks and trails will be available both guided by a local Rawi (Arabic storyteller) or self-guided for visitors who want to delve deeper into the stories and customs of the region. Adventure tourists will be happy at Al Ula for they can remain tearing around the sandscapes in a desert buggy, or taking to the skies in a vintage light air-craft to see volcanic craters and key hole tombs in the lava fields of Harrat Khaybar.
For families, Hijrat Noura, or Princess Noura Farm, located close to Hegra offers a chance to get up close and personal with the local flora and fauna. The special attraction is the Winter Park, made for the Winter at Tantora festival. It offers an open air atmosphere for art and food installations or exhibitions. It consists of Maraya Theatre, which is a concert hall in Al Ula and is used as part of the Winter at Tantora festival. ‘Maraya’, in Arabic means reflection or mirror, is built close to Hegra. After a day of sightseeing, visitors can stroll through the cool and sheltered oasis – a green canopy of palm grove where the air is perfumed with the scent of dates, orange and mint grown nearby.