Igniting the senses: How AlUla is pioneering the ‘experience economy’

Nestled in a mystical desert-oasis landscape, AlUla emerges as a beacon of the 'experience economy,' beckoning travellers to engage all five senses in crafting memories that last a lifetime.

What is the Experience Economy?

The concept of the experience economy represents a shift in the way we perceive and engage with travel and leisure activities. In addition to providing services  and access to tourist sights, the experience economy emphasises the creation of unique, personalised experiences that resonate on a deeper emotional level with visitors. This approach is designed to transform ordinary trips into memorable journeys, offering travellers more than just visual memories or checked boxes on a travel itinerary.

In the experience economy, every aspect of a trip is an opportunity to emotionally engage and connect with visitors. This could involve immersive activities that put travellers in the heart of the action, adventures that are thoughtfully curated to reflect their personal interests and aspirations, and interactive experiences that allow for genuine interaction with local cultures, histories, and environments. The goal is to craft moments that are not only enjoyable but also meaningful, enriching the traveller’s understanding of a place and its people.

The experience economy also leverages storytelling and emotional connections to create lasting impressions. By doing so, it seeks to deliver profound, transformational experiences that enhance a visitor's sense of self and their understanding of the world around them. Ultimately, this approach fosters a deeper appreciation of destinations, encouraging sustainable and respectful travel practices that benefit both visitors and host communities.

With its rich cultural and tourism offerings, AlUla leads this new experiential wave, blending the power of experiences—sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste—into a year-round tapestry of activities and sensations.

Touching AlUla’s Cultural Warmth

AlUla is dedicated to preserving and enhancing its cultural heritage for future generations. This commitment is evident in the variety of ways visitors can connect with AlUla’s culture and people, experiencing authentic Saudi hospitality. The Madrasat Addeera Arts and Design Centre invites the creatively inclined to explore history through art and handicraft workshops while cooking classes offer a hands-on approach to learning about local ingredients and culinary techniques.

Seeing the Past and Future Come to Life

AlUla’s landscapes are a visual feast, encapsulating the phrase ‘seeing is believing.’ From the crimson desert sands and sandstone formations to the detailed Nabataean tombs in Hegra, visitors are treated to ancient natural and man-made marvels which, when brought together, inspire a profound understanding of our collective past. The city’s forward-thinking spirit is mirrored in the architectural wonder of Maraya, the world’s largest mirrored building, and the innovative Design Space AlUla, a new centre for design in the region – spaces where creativity can thrive.

A Musical Awakening

In AlUla, modern and classical music converge, offering a dynamic soundtrack to the memories being formed here. The city draws hosts year-round musical events, featuring a diverse roster of talent—from classical icons like Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and Chinese pianist Lang Lang, to contemporary stars like Grammy-winner Lauryn Hill and the famed Irish band Westlife.

Smelling the Sweetness of Nature 

Once a vital stop on the ancient Incense Route, AlUla continues to enchant with the evocative aroma of frankincense. This scent permeates the air in hotels and key attractions, the fragrant smoke drawing in visitors by way of a traditional and entirely authentic welcome - all complemented by the fresh, vibrant odours of the lush local oases filled with palm groves, citrus trees, and blooming flora, inviting travellers to walk through, explore, and feel rejuvenated.

The outdoors in AlUla truly awaken all the senses. At the Adventure Hub, visitors can experience the thrill of ziplining, while the Wheels Bike Hub offers bike paths that cater to cyclists of all levels, seamlessly connecting them with nature. Along with a myriad of new and exhilarating outdoor activities, AlUla provides diverse opportunities to immerse in the sensory-rich pleasures of the natural world.

Tasting a Culinary Adventure

AlUla’s culinary experiences reflect the local culture and embrace modern flavours. The oasis-to-table approach ensures that dishes made with locally sourced ingredients offer flavours as rich and complex as the region’s history. From juicy dates and oranges to savoury meats cooked over open flames, each meal is an invitation to connect with nature.

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