Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture

A land that inspires artists

Everywhere you look in AlUla, wondrous inspiration can be found — in its organic, red-rock shapes, its flourishing green palms and the startling contrast of bright blue sky against desert landscapes. From contemporary artists projecting light against the rocks to locals studying traditional handicrafts, the spirit of the arts lives in this valley.

Several programs are underway to bring the distinct arts and culture of the ancient Nabataeans and other historic residents of AlUla to visitors, including ceramics, leather, textiles, stone-carving and more. At Madrasat AdDeera, artists are learning heritage design principles and geometries, while at the same time evolving techniques to their own artistic sensibilities.

In addition to the traditional arts, contemporary artists are finding creative ways to express themselves amid AlUla’s extraordinary landscape. Desert X 2020 brought 14 contemporary art installations from acclaimed artists to AlUla that complimented the region's magnificent landscapes and storied heritage. AlUla has also hosted world-class entertainment and events, such as The Winter at Tantora Festival which featured light shows, art installations from renowned artists like Yayoi Kusama and concerts from global sensations like Enrique Iglesias, as well as a performance by maestro Andrea Bocelli at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Hegra.

The near future promises extraordinary exhibitions and installations, art walks, artists’ residencies and galleries, and other events that celebrate AlUla’s distinct artistic heritage.

Arts & Culture

Wadi AlFann

Wadi AlFann, meaning ‘Valley of the Arts’, is an awe-inspiring new global cultural destination for contemporary art. Era-defining works by some of the most compelling artists from around the world will be permanently placed in the monumental landscape of AlUla. Opening in 2024.

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Arts & Culture

Desert X

In 2020, Desert X brought together local, Saudi and international audiences to create larger-than-life installations that shed new light on the ancient rock formations that surrounded them.

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Arts & Culture

Past Art Exhibitions

See how AlUla is leading the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s mission to become a globally recognised centre for arts and culture, and a hub for cultural tourism and the exchange of ideas.

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Arts & Culture

AlUla Artist Residency

AlUla has long been a place that has harboured artists, inspired by the layered cultural heritage of the region, its spectacular landscapes and varied nature, and the character of AlUla’s people to create distinctive and compelling works. Now, AlUla hosts artists and cultural producers across continents in immersion-based programmes with the aim of delivering exceptional artistic experiences for participants, visitors and the community.

Learn more about the Oasis Reborn Artist Residency

HEGRA

The Nabataean site of Hegra was the southern capital of the Nabataean kingdom, dating back to the first century BCE. Today, visitors will find that more than 100 well-preserved monumental tombs remain, most with elaborate facades carved from rock formations that are scattered throughout this immense desert landscape.

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Jabal AlFil: Elephant Rock

Set in golden desert sands and climbing three storeys into the Saudi Arabian sky is the awe-inspiring Elephant Rock, also known as Jabal AlFil, one of AlUla’s many geological marvels. The “trunk” and “body” of this monolithic red sandstone beast were hewn by natural forces — millions of years of wind and water erosion.

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DADAN

Before the Nabataeans, AlUla was the capital of the ancient kingdoms of Dadan and Lihyan, which controlled the caravan trade in the first millennium BCE. See remarkably well-preserved tombs, expertly carved from a towering red-rock mountain face that overlooks the valley oasis. A special highlight is the famed Lion Tombs marked by seated lion sculptures.

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Heritage

Take a journey to both the ancient and recent past. Uncover preserved tombs, sandstone outcrops, historic dwellings and monuments, both natural and man-made, that hold 200,000 years of largely unexplored human history.

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JABAL IKMAH

What was part of the caravan way station served as a record keeper of sorts with carvings providing information to researchers about the way of life of the Dadanites, Lihyanites and others. Hundreds of inscriptions referring to journeys, pilgrimage, ritual and offerings can be found here. Rock art depicting humans, chariots, harps, camels, bovines, goats, scorpions and ibex can all be spotted.

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AlUla Old Town

Occupied from the 900s CE until the 1980s and now open to visitors. Nearly 900 two-storey mud-brick houses, 400 shops, five squares and a mosque populated the oasis town. It was a key stop along the Islamic pilgrimage route from Damascus to Makkah. Travellers, traders and pilgrims would be met outside the town’s walls.

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Nature & Outdoors

There’s a sense of openness, vastness and quiet that invites visitors to wander in AlUla – among dramatic rock formations, sand-swept dunes, lush valleys and ancient basalt lava flows.

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Past Art Exhibitions

See how AlUla is leading the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s mission to become a globally recognised centre for arts and culture, and a hub for cultural tourism and the exchange of ideas.

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Hijaz Railway & The Fort of Hegra

Routes of pilgrimage crossed the landscape of AlUla, as in its ancient past. As well as the Syrian and Egyptian routes, AlUla hosted part of the Aylah passage that connected Madinah to Aqaba in Jordan. Great importance was placed on these journey ways, and they were well maintained for pilgrims with forts, watchtowers and water sources.

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Business & Special Events

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Adventure In AlUla

AlUla offers adventure for every type of traveller. Zipline across a mountain range, race through the dunes or bring yourself back to nature by hiking amid rock formations and hidden valleys. In the evening, book a stargazing or moonlit night adventure paired with dinner.

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Books of Alula

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NABATAEANS

Around the middle of the 1st millennium BCE, a nomadic tribe of traders emerged in the desert lands of Jordan. Their trade routes allowed for close relationships with civilisations from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome to India and as far as China. They harnessed these connections and control of trade routes and made their mark in engineering, architecture and written language.

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Harrat Viewpoint

Overlooking the beautiful landmarks of AlUla and the vast desert beyond sits the Harrat Viewpoint. Enjoy the outdoor terrace, built to blend in with the magnificent surroundings.

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Eid AlFitr In AlUla

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Ramadan In AlUla

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What Lies Within

What Lies Within

A groundbreaking array of artwork was on display in the award-winning Maraya from 11th February to 20th March 2022. What Lies Within brought together works from the past two decades by some of the most significant artists of Saudi Arabia and its diaspora from the private collection of Saudi female patron and collector Basma AlSulaiman.
 

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