Finding Inspiration in Nature & Tradition
It’s nearly impossible to gaze around AlUla without feeling a yearning to create. The region has such a distinctive heritage and wondrous natural landscape that the souls of artists and craftspeople can’t help being moved. The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts provides aspiring makers with the instructions, tools and appreciation for AlUla’s rich culture and nature, resulting in the fulfilment of creative urges.
The programme comprises four main workshops, each of which culminates in a final project inspired by the breathtaking beauty of the area’s wilderness, as well as the fascinating history of the land and people alike, dating back millions of years. Workshops are taught by international experts and local master artisans, blending contemporary methodologies with traditional practices.
The region hosts an abundance of fascinating wildlife, including red-necked ostriches bedecked in rich plumage, regal Nubian ibex and graceful Idmi gazelles. The Sharaan Nature Reserve also provides a welcoming sanctuary for species like the lanky-limbed Cape hare, the marmot-like rock hyrax and a variety of birds. Brilliant green bee-eaters, dappled crested larks and eagles all cut through the sky in AlUla. Endangered Arabian wolves, gazelles and large-eared red foxes are already again roaming these beautiful lands, demonstrating a healthy ecosystem. But the most alluring of these creatures by far are the critically endangered Arabian leopards. The Sharaan aspires to restore the ecosystem to such a point that the silky, painted big cats can be reintroduced, helping the species thrive once more.
Learn basket weaving — one of AlUla’s historic art forms — from skilled local craftswomen, who plait intricately patterned vessels, their hands moving in the same paths their ancestors carved in the air long ago. Working with palm fronds, desert grasses and natural dyes, you’ll explore an array of techniques, from coiling and cordage to hexagonal and windmill weaving. Over the course of this workshop, you’ll begin to discern the connections between the geometry of natural materials and your own artistic expressions.
The creation of wool-based crafts has been passed down through generations for centuries in AlUla. In workshops centred around felt making and methods for sourcing and blending your own natural dyes, you’ll be introduced to thousands of years of heritage and artistry. Immerse yourself in historic and modern methods of preparing fabrics for dyeing as you drive the transformation of beautiful, but simple and coarse, wool to swaths of vibrantly coloured felt, adorned with complex geometrical designs that echo the nature from which the materials originated.
The unique interaction between human and natural forces in AlUla has resulted in the extraordinary harmony of wild landscapes and historic structures. This union is best observed in the exquisite engravings of the tombs at Hegra, also known as Mada’in Salih. In an introduction to stone carving, you’ll learn from the hands of the ancients, as you examine the etchings they chiselled into AlUla’s sandstone years ago. As you gain insight into the robust variety of stone in the region, you’ll learn how to select the piece best suited for your design. Delve into methods for working with the fine grain of the rock, harnessing natural forces to uncover the shape that lies within.