A vibrant new resonance for music in AlUla

Music has long been a cornerstone of cultural expression around the world, and in Saudi Arabia, its significance is deeply woven into the traditions and heritage practices passed down through generations. Now, Saudi’s vibrant musical landscape finds new resonance in AlUla, blending echoes from the past with contemporary voices and events.


Historical roots

The history of music in Saudi Arabia is as old as its civilisation, known for its distinctive tones, rhythms, and melodies, supported by ancient instruments such as the oud, rabab and qanoon. These musical elements intertwine with a rich oral tradition of Bedouin poetry, percussion, and traditional dances, preserving an artistic legacy that is as ancient as it is revered. 

Key examples of the link between music and Saudi culture are the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage elements of Almezmar and Alardah, still practised and celebrated today and similarly ubiquitous at intimate family events and wider cultural extravaganzas. 


A music renaissance

Saudi Arabia has a documented musical history that spans around 120 years, and history continues to be written as the local music scene evolves in a major way. In recent years, there has been a significant resurgence in the interest and investment in music within Saudi Arabia, with AlUla emerging as a focal point for this renaissance. 

This evolution is distinctly witnessed in AlUla because of the city’s history as a vibrant crossroads of cultural exchange, welcoming diverse voices and fostering collaboration and learning. 

The AlUla Music Hub, for instance, carries the torch of traditional music forward through its comprehensive vocational training programme, nurturing aspiring musicians in traditional instruments such as the qanun, oud, percussions and more.

Traditionally, Arabic music, known for its captivating rhythms and intricate patterns, has dominated the soundscape of Saudi Arabia. Today, the musical genres in Saudi Arabia have expanded dramatically. Modern musical expressions now include jazz, hip-hop, rap, techno, and rock ’n roll. Many contemporary artists are also weaving elements of traditional Saudi music into their compositions, creating a beautiful blend of old and new.

Amid the changing sands of time, AlUla is preserving the nation’s musical heritage and also embracing the diversity of world music through events such as the annual AZIMUTH festival, which has hosted diverse international performers and groundbreaking regional ones, including emerging Saudi-based DJs Cosmicat and Kayan. 

It is this fine balance between preserving heritage and embracing global influences that epitomises the role of music in AlUla today, bridging the echoes of the past with the dynamic rhythms of the future.

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