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MEDIA RELEASE: EMBARGOED 30 October 2020
ALULA UNVEILS NEW EXPERIENCES AND OPENS BOOKINGS
- AlUla heritage sites open for bookings
- New experiences announced for winter months
- AlUla Old Town opening in December
- Adventure Canyon experiences unveiled
- Old Girls School Artist Workshops
AlUla, the historical crossroad of ancient civilisations, has officially reopened for visitors this weekend and The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has unveiled the full suite of experiences that are being phased in over the coming months.
Heritage sites, Hegra, Jabal Ikmah and Dadan are the first to reopen for bookings.
The Hegra experience includes full immersion into the Nabataean ways of life at sites including the most iconic, Tomb of Lihyan son of Kuza, plus Jabal Ithlib, The Diwan, Jabal Alhamar and the well.
Hop-on, hop-off transportation stops at seven areas of significance for visitors to explore at their leisure.
Visitors can download the Experience AlUla app for an immersive location specific digital guide, or have a Rawi (Arabic storyteller) provide a more personal tour of the sites in English or Arabic.
By the end of November, a handicraft pavilion at Hegra will also host a series of interactive activations designed to provide an entertaining appreciation for the Nabataean Kingdom and ways of life. These will include:
visitors can try their hand at making a necklace made of date stones, a replica of a necklace that archaeologists discovered in Hegra in 2015;
a fun and interactive spotlight the Nabataean society and ways of life with the live theatre performance, the Tomb of Malkiyun the Diviner (Qasr AlSania);
a sensory glimpse into Bedouin life at The Alfegeer Mudhouses with handicraft workshops, live performances and cooking;
visitors will be able to get their name beautifully reproduced in the Nabataean script to take home as a framed memento.
At the ancient city of Dadan, the capital city of the Dadanite and Liyhanite Kingdoms and one of the most developed cities in the 1st millennia BCE, visitors will get the chance to become an archaeologist for the day.
Archaeologists began extensive excavations at Dadan in February 2020 to explore this relatively unknown period in AlUa’s 200,000 years of human history. From December, a family-friendly 40-minute ‘Archaeology for Everyone’ workshop will have kids digging for artefacts to get in on the action. There will also be live immersion shows, audio tours and visitors will have the opportunity to tour the extensive site in a vintage jeep.
Other experiences announced for later in the year include camel tours of key tombs and night-time experiences including light shows and night-time markets.
From late December, parts of AlUla Old Town will be open to the public. While full conservation is-ongoing, the visitor experience will include Rawi tours of Tantora Plaza and sundial and views from AlUla citadel; the opportunity to experience a bustling Suq, a handicraft pavilions and souvenirs to shop for, as well as new dining options.
Outside of the heritage sites, there will be plenty of other activities to keep visitors entertained.
A new Adventure Canyon area will offer a suite of experiences for those looking for high-energy thrills.
Keen hikers can book a space on the Adventure Hiking Trail. Run by experienced tour operator Husaak, the trail offers a half-day hike led by an experienced guide through the AlMadakeel landscapes with stops for stunning views of the desert and oasis.
From mid-November, visitors will be able to book an evening Stargazing tour at AlGharameel rocks. Famous as one of the most dramatic landscapes for stargazing, the one hour experience, also run by Husaak, includes a traditional Bedouin set-up with an expert guide to provide insights about the importance of the stars and constellations in AlUla’s culture and history.
Another trail available from mid-November is the leisurely two-hour Cycling Trail which runs through palm groves and citrus trees. A Horse-Riding Trail through the desert and surrounding mountains is also slated for later in the year.
From December, visitors will be able to appreciate the landscapes, rock art, dunes and peaks of the desert while zipping around in a classic dune buggy. These fun three-person vehicles are a great way to sightsee. Also, a zipline through the canyons and a family-fun bump and pump bike track is being constructed at the new Adventure Canyon by experienced operators Warrior.
For a more relaxing experience, the AlUla Fresh Farm visit offers visitors a glimpse into life on an AlUla farm complete with farm tours, fruit picking, animal feeding and seed planting. From the 2.3 million date palms trees to the 29 types of citrus fruit, farms play an important role in AlUla’s economy and daily life.
AlUla will also welcome new permanent experiences in the arts and cultural space. The former AlUla Secondary School for girls near AlUla Old Town is being transformed into an arts and traditional crafts hub.
With founding partners The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts, and under the guidance of Turquoise Mountain, specialists in reinvigorating traditional crafts, nearly 50 local artisans have been trained in ceramics, palm weaving, textiles and jewellery-making.
The crafts men and women are creating beautiful heritage collections that reflect the unique history, architecture and nature of the area, using locally sourced materials when possible. The Artisans Workshops in AlUla will eventually be offered to visitors too and will include classes from design to jewellery making and the revival of ancient handicrafts such as ceramics, embroidery and weaving.
Restaurants have also been given careful consideration and further announcement are to be made in the coming weeks about some exciting new dining options. In the meantime, key local cafes Barzan and AlMahkar Cafe and Park are working with RCU to ensure a year-round offer of fabulous local cuisine. A Winter Park area will include pop-up food trucks for a more casual grab and go eating option.
Accommodation options in the short term include tented desert resorts, Sahary AlUla Resort, Shaden Resort and self-catered RVs for unique outdoor immersion. From January 2021, the exciting modular-designed eco-resort Habitas AlUla will be available and Ashar Resort will return with new rooms and suites added.
Prices for the heritage sites have been set at rates applicable to the experiences available at the time of booking. Concessions are available for children and AlUla residents. Visitors are advised to sign-up to experiencealula.com to get the latest updates.
Zoe Shurgold, [email protected] +61 415254418
IMAGES and interviews available.
Experiences available by date
Bookable Experiences available from 29 October
Hegra – Day Tour including in the Tomb of Lihyan son of Kuza, hop-on, hop-off transportation at four key areas and option for Rawi tour.
Dadan + Jabal Ikmah – explore the ancient city of Dadan and Jabal Ikmah where there are more than 500 inscriptions engraved and carved in stone in five languages
*further experiences at the sites including Archaeology for Everyone and Hegra handicraft Pavillion will be activated from November.
Bookable experiences available from 10 December
AlUla Old Town – explore the town with a Rawi and enjoy live performances, a busy bazaar and handicraft and souvenirs.
Oasis Trail – weave your way self-guided though the bountiful oasis at your own pace.
Available from 29 October
Adventure Hiking Trail by Husaak – Enjoy an energising 3 - 4 hour trek though the stunning Madakheel landscape
AlUla Fresh – a farm experience including fruit picking, tours and seed planting.
Available from November 10
Stargazing by Husaak – traditional Bedouin camp at AlGharameel with a stargazing expert
Available from November 15
Cycling Trail – ride on the bike paths through the aromatic farms
Dune Buggies – zipping around the desert in fun three-wheeled buggies
Bike Park by Warrior – bump and pump bike track for high-adrenaline fun from Warrior
Horse Trail – guided trek through AlUla’s desert landscapes
Zipline by Warrior – whizz through the air on a zipline at Harrat Mountain from Warrior
Oasis Trail – weave your way self-guided though the bountiful oasis at your own pace.
Sahary AlUla Resort
Booking from November
Shaden RV Park
Ashar RV Park
Booking from December
Ashar Valley Resort
Coming in 2021
Old Girls School arts hub with workshops and classes available for local artisans
Banyan Tree by Accor Resort
High end dining and cafes at the Heritage Sites
From October 31 to December 31 2020 the prices will be:
Hegra 95 SAR adult rate 45 SAR child
Dadan Kingdom (inc Jabal Ikmah) adult rate 60 SAR 30 SAR child
AlUla residents will pay 20 SAR at Hegra and 10 SAR at Dadan
For adventure experiences, prices range from 50 SAR for a farm experience to 75 SAR for the bike park, 100 SAR for dune buggies and from 120 SAR to 220 SAR for trails and tours.
Located 1,100 km from Riyadh, in North-West Saudi Arabia, AlUla is a place of extraordinary natural and human heritage. The vast area, covering 22,561km², includes a lush oasis valley, towering sandstone mountains and ancient cultural heritage sites dating back thousands of years to when the Lihyan and Nabataean kingdoms reigned.
The most well-known and recognised site in AlUla is Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. A 52-hectare ancient city, Hegra was the principal southern city of the Nabataean Kingdom and is comprised of more than 100 well preserved tombs with elaborate facades cut out of the sandstone outcrops surrounding the walled urban settlement.
Current research also suggests Hegra was the most southern outpost of the Roman Empire after conquering the Nabataeans in 106 CE.
In addition to Hegra, AlUla is home to a fascinating historical and archaeological sites such as: Ancient Dadan, the capital of the Dadan and Lihyan Kingdoms, which is considered one of the most developed 1st-millennium BCE cities of the Arabian Peninsula; thousands of ancient rock art sites and inscriptions at Jabal Ikmah; Old Town, a labyrinth of more than 900 mudbrick homes developed from at least the 12th century, and Hijaz Railway and Hegra Fort, key sites in the story and conquests of Lawrence of Arabia.
About The Royal Commission for AlUla
The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) was established by royal decree in July 2017 to protect and safeguard AlUla, a region of outstanding natural and cultural significance in North-West Saudi Arabia. RCU is embarking on a long-term plan to develop and deliver a sensitive, sustainable transformation of the region, reaffirming it as one of the country's most important archaeological and cultural destinations and preparing it to welcome visitors from around the world. RCU’s development work in AlUla encompasses a broad range of initiatives across archaeology, tourism, culture, education and the arts, reflecting the ambitious commitment to cultivate tourism and leisure in Saudi Arabia, outlined in Vision 2030.