Art in AlUla

Art in AlUla

The Confluence of Humanity, Nature & Art

Endless Inspiration

AlUla has inspired artists for thousands of years. From past exhibits like Desert X, Franchise Freedom and Van Gogh Alive to new museums and upcoming art exhibits that showcase local culture and Islamic arts, discover how AlUla is leading Saudi Arabia’s mission to become a globally recognised centre for arts and culture.

In fact, over the next decade, Saudi Arabia intends to build numerous major art institutions and smaller museums — at least seven of which will reside in AlUla — to showcase an array of works, particularly those that place an emphasis on Saudi culture and Islamic arts.

As a driving force in this artistic movement, AlUla is taking strides to marry its rich culture, unique heritage and raw wilderness with more contemporary forms of expression. Most recently, several exhibitions took place during AlUla’s extraordinary Winter at Tantora Festival.

AlUla Moments 2022 Art Exhibitions

February 9 - March 31 2022 ALULA ARTIST RESIDENCY: THE OASIS REBORN EXHIBITION

The first AlUla Artist Residency has ended, and as finishing touch to the progamme, the six participating artists have their works and research on display at The Oasis Reborn Exhibition. Located in the palm-grove of Mabiti AlUla, the exhibition invites you to immerse yourself in the cultural oasis of AlUla and discover new perspectives on this ancient landscape.

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February - March 2022 Cortona on the Move

The first edition of the international photography festival Cortona On The Move for AlUla took place in AlJadidah. The 18 exhibited artist works wove seamlessly between Time, Life and Longing. These site-specific exhibitions were accompanied by guided tours, talks, screenings and training opportunities for budding photographers.

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February - March 2022 Desert X AlUla 2022

Under the theme of Sarab, 15 featured works explored ideas of mirage and oasis, both intrinsic to desert history and culture. Invited to consider these ancient concepts, participating artists responded with new works that addressed dreams, camouflage, fiction, dis/appearance, extraction, illusion and myth.

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February 11 - March 20, 2022 What Lies Within

A groundbreaking array of artwork was on display in the award-winning Maraya. 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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2019 Art Exhibitions in AlULA

JANUARY - MARCH 2020 DESERT X ALULA

The 14 featured works displayed each artists’ interpretation of the desert, made especially for AlUla. The large-scale installations related to the environment, evoked the region’s unique desert culture and immersed visitors in new and inventive ways.

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DECEMBER 2019–FEBRUARY 2020 FRANCHISE FREEDOM

In this immersive exhibit, the inky blue-black skies of AlUla were lit with ethereal drones, taking to the air to mimic the flight of starlings. Thousands of man-made birds smoothly swooped and glided through the night in an unpredictable ballet, the sight of which was amplified by the vast expanse of desert. As festival goers gazed in wonder at this magnificent migration, a piano player serenaded them at the Tomb of Lihyan son of Kuza — a single mausoleum carved into its own sandstone outcrop that rises from fine Saudi Arabian sands, awash in radiant light and further driving the connection between humanity, nature and emerging technology.

DECEMBER 2018–FEBRUARY 2019 VAN GOGH ALIVE

Held during the first season of Winter at Tantora, this multi-sensory experience propelled the works of Vincent Van Gogh well beyond the confines of the frame, allowing festivalgoers to be enveloped by his genius. Walking into the exhibit space at Maraya, viewers were entranced by floor-to-ceiling, digital displays of Van Gogh’s art. Both his most famous and lesser-known pieces were transformed into dynamic, shifting panoramas, enhanced by lights, colour, music and audio clips of the artist’s writings. Viewers were surrounded by art on all sides, turning the traditional museum experience into an unforgettable opportunity to appreciate Van Gogh’s masterful work as if one was inside it.

AlUla Arts Festival Highlights

AlJadidah

A vibrant new hub of restaurants, shops and more, AlJadidah quickly became a must-visit location in AlUla. Beautiful murals bring an artistic touch to the pedestrian-friendly area, where the world's largest hand-painted carpet lines the road for visitors. Centrally located, AlJadidah sits beautifully on the edge of AlUla Old Town and overlooks the AlUla Oasis.

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Desert X AlUla 2022

Desert X AlUla 2022 returned for its second edition with an extraordinary open-air art exhibition from 11th February to 30th March 2022. Placing visionary contemporary artworks by 15 Saudi and international artists amidst the remarkable desert landscape of AlUla, 2022's exhibition explored ideas of mirage and oasis.

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Path Of Poets

The live immersion show "Path of Poets" brought to life a re-creation of the celebrated poet Jamil bin Muammar alongside other characters, sharing the story of Buthaina in this specially created show of creative storytelling.

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What Lies Within

What Lies Within was an exhibition of Saudi contemporary art from the collection of Basma AlSulaiman hosted at the award-winning Maraya.

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AlUla Performing Arts Festival

The AlUla Performing Arts Festival was a unique international festival that celebrated all forms of performing arts. From acrobatic performances to traditional street buskers, AlJadidah was bustling with all kinds of activity for an incredible ten days.

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ALULA ARTIST RESIDENCY: THE OASIS REBORN EXHIBITION

Upon completing the first AlUla Artist Residency, the six participating artists had their works and research on display at The Oasis Reborn Exhibition. Located in the palm-grove of Mabiti AlUla, the exhibition invited visitors to immerse themselves in the cultural oasis of AlUla and discover new perspectives on this ancient landscape.

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Barzan Living Gardens

Handed down through generations, Barzan Living Gardens is a place of natural beauty and deep heritage, shining a light on the cultural connection between the people of AlUla and the resources of the AlUla Oasis. Supported by friendly guides, guests explored this living landscape and discovered its stories through the prisms of art, heritage and nature.

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Remote AlUla

This 90-minute, site-specific immersive audio tour by Rimini Protokoll explored life, the past and the imagined future of AlUla. During the tour, guests were guided by a digital voice as they encountered the beauty of the AlUla Oasis and AlJadidah in an innovative and immersive theatre experience focused on AlUla.

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Cinema ElHoush

The beautiful outdoor set-up of Cinema ElHoush offered the chance to enjoy a selection of world-class movies from Saudi, Arab and International directors. Cinema-goers grabbed local coffee with friends at the in-house café before their films and participated in engaging discussions with directors afterwards.

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Cortona On The Move

The first edition of the international photography festival Cortona On The Move for AlUla took place in AlJadidah. The 18 exhibited artist works wove seamlessly between Time, Life and Longing. These site-specific exhibitions were accompanied by guided tours, talks, screenings and training opportunities for budding photographers.

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2022 AlUla Arts Festival

AlUla Arts encouraged creativity. Embracing the innovation present in AlUla for thousands of years, this festival brought a mix of ancient and contemporary art all throughout AlUla. From the incredible large-scale art installations of Desert X AlUla 2022 and photography of Cortona On The Move to What Lies Within at the award-winning Maraya and the AlUla Performing Arts Festival in AlJadidah, AlUla celebrated its legacy of being a cultural crossroads.

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Plan Your Trip To AlUla

Flying to AlUla

Saudia Airlines and flydubai fly into and out of AlUla International Airport (ULH). The newly renovated airport is located just 35 km (a 30-minute drive) from the city centre.

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What to Do

Unlock the secrets of this open-air museum, where an exciting collection of immersive experiences and activities bring its stories to life.

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Where to Eat

In AlUla there are many dining options to replenish your energy after a day of exploring. Casual to fine dining options are available.

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Where to Stay

Looking for a place to rest after a long day’s adventure? From high-end luxury to sustainable eco-resorts, AlUla offers a range of accommodation options.

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COVID-19 Information

We strive to make your visit to this amazing destination as safe as possible.

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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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About AlUla

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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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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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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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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AlUla Oasis

This lush sanctuary in the windswept Saudi Arabian desert has provided life to AlUla’s residents, weary travellers, flora and fauna for thousands of years. Today, it’s an agricultural epicentre waiting to be explored.

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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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Arts & Culture

From contemporary artists creating pieces made for the stunning desert backdrop to local artisans continuing the tradition of ancient handicrafts, the spirit of creativity and ingenuity can be discovered in every corner of AlUla.

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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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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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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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Books of Alula

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Business & Special Events

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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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Ramadan In AlUla

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Eid AlFitr 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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