Source Name : This article has been produced on behalf of The Royal Commission for AlUla by Mediawire team.

Category Name : General

Watch the Arabian Deserts coming to life in the alluring AlUla

Updated: 09/06/2023

Ever wondered what it is like to travel back in time to experience the grandeur of miles and miles of golden deserts, rocky tombs, stone carvings, sandstone mountains, picturesque oasis valleys and ruins of a centuries-old village? Well, they are no longer the fantasies of a mind imagining fables from Arabian Nights around fires in the dark. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has opened doors to its long-hidden gem, AlUla, the living museum that is steeped in 200,000 years old history!
AlUla, the oasis haven, located about 1,100 kilometres northwest of Riyadh, is home to ancient civilisations, historical sites and archaeological wonders that date back to thousands of years. Its valley is a panorama of striking contrasts of massive rock formations, a scenic oasis that has thrived since centuries and spectacular monuments. Its strategic location made it an ideal stopover for caravan traders travelling long distances. 
Today, AlUla represents a perfect confluence of past, future, tradition, tourism, heritage and high-tech warm hospitality, all together providing a completely immersive experience to tourists from all over the world.
Recently, Janhvi Kapoor of Bollywood fame took to Instagram to share pictures from her tour of AlUla and captioned them “A journey through a living museum of preserved tombs, sandstone outcrops, historic dwellings and monuments, both natural and human-made, which hold 200,000 years of largely unexplored human history.” 
One of the locales she can’t stop gushing about in her posts is Hegra (Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site). It is home to  111 well-preserved tombs, all carved out of sandstone more than 2000 years ago and still stand tall, bearing testimony to the rule of the ancient Nabataean kingdom. Among them, the Tomb of Lihyan Son of Kuza which is an iconic tomb is known for its magnificent structure.
Janhvi Kapoor at Hegra
AlUla offers a vast number of contemporary and traditional restaurants curated by renowned chefs who are pushing boundaries and redefining the dining experience. These culinary havens are complemented by sensational musical performances, creating an ambiance that transcends expectations. From casual eateries to refined dining restaurants and multi-sensory popup culinary experiences, AlUla embraces cuisines from around the globe.
Among the cherished dining destinations in AlUla, Circolo stands out, tantalising taste buds with its mouth-watering Italian cuisine. Entrecôte Café de Paris presents a delectable steak frites set menu, elevated by a secret sauce and breathtaking views of AlUla Old Town. Somewhere, nestled within an oasis farm, is a hidden gem adorned with beautiful outdoor seating. Here, modern dishes are artfully fused with authentic Mediterranean flavors.
Suhail, a modern Saudi Arabian fine dining concept, takes inspiration from the ancient spices of the Arabian Peninsula and venerable traditions. Exemplary service adds to its charm, making it a beloved establishment in the heart of the Old Town.
Another breathtakingly gorgeous structure in AlUla is the Maraya, the multi-purpose entertainment venue and the world’s largest mirrored building, as declared in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2020. The mirrored structure is covered by 9,740 mirror panels that reflect the surrounding rock formations giving a mind boggling impression of vast endlessness, making the structure itself almost invisible.
Janhvi Kapoor at Maraya
Equipped with the cutting edge technologies, acoustics and a seating capacity of five hundred and eighty spectators, Maraya houses glorious concerts by both native Arabian and international performers. 
The rooftop of Maraya is home to Jason Atherton’s newest restaurant Maraya Social. Atherton is one of Britain’s best loved chefs and is the owner of three Michelin Starred restaurants worldwide. Maraya Social’s cuisine is prepared using produce from local farms and served in Atherton’s signature style.
AlUla hosts cultural extravaganza throughout the year, to celebrate its unique landscape and heritage. Some of the notable ones are: AlUla Skies Festival, Summer in AlUla when natives and travellers alike find refuge in the lush Oasis, The Azimuth festival which is a three-day musical fiesta taking place during the Saudi national day holidays, The ancient kingdoms festival and the much famed Winter at Tantora which is the longest running music and cultural festival.
If you are fascinated enough to plan your next vacation to the magical and mystical destination of AlUla, we have curated an ideal three-day itinerary so that you can attain an absolutely mesmerising experience. Here it goes:
Day 1: Begin your AlUla exploration with a visit to Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site and tour the tombs that vary in designs and dimensions. It is recommended to visit Hegra early in the morning when the sun is not too hot to venture outdoors. 
From Hegra, head to AlUla Old Town and stroll through its labyrinth of narrow and winding alleys amidst hundreds of mudbrick buildings. You are guaranteed to feel a strong sense of its history as a once-thriving settlement. 
Day 2: Visit Elephant Rock, a magnificent rock formation that is shaped like an elephant and is a great Instagram-worthy location! If you visit it after nightfall, you will be treated to soft lights that set the elephant aglow and amazing performances that enumerate the formation of the rock. 
Janhvi Kapoor at Elephant Rock
If you are covering Elephant Rock in the morning, your next destination has to be the Oasis which is the heart of AlUla, a lush haven of greenery amidst the windswept Arabian desert landscape that has served many a civilisation for thousands of years and continues to thrive. It is adorned with an abundance of emerald-green groves of date palms and is the perfect spot to unwind after a day spent exploring.
Day 3: Head to Dadan Archaeological Site, a stone-built city that dates back to 8th and 9th century BC. Due to its proximity to incense trade routes, Dadan is known to have been one of the most prosperous cities in northern Arabia and a centre for trade and commerce. 
It houses the iconic lion tombs, numerous rock art, ruins of ancient buildings and inscriptions. 
Janhvi Kapoor at Dadan
From Dadan, proceed to Jabal Ikmah. Listed on the UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, the site houses the highest concentration of the most varied inscriptions that adorn rocks and surfaces of cliffs and date back to 1st millennium BC. It is the largest “open library” that is tucked away in a remote canyon valley and is the favourite hub spot for historians and researchers.
Whether you are a history and heritage enthusiast or a traveler who loves to explore picturesque locales, AlUla is the perfect destination for you. From ancient structures to luxurious villas in the middle of the desert, from the open library replete with inscriptions to high tech art galleries, AlUla is the perfect blend of natural and human excellence. It is modern yet is mysteriously alluring.
To have a glimpse of AlUla’s scenic backdrop and for information on its upcoming calendar of events, access its social media handles at:
Disclaimer: This article has been produced on behalf of The Royal Commission for AlUla by Mediawire team.
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