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AROUND THE AREA

Hegra

Once the principal southern capital of the Nabataean Kingdom, at its peak Hegra was a vibrant Nabataean city at the heart of the historic Incense Road – and later a strategic outpost for Roman legions. In 2023, Hegra celebrated the 15-year anniversary of its inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, establishing its importance as a site of global heritage. Site highlights include:

– 110 monumental sandstone tombs, a testament to the sophistication of Nabataean culture

 – A cutting-edge augmented reality experience, bringing a new dimension to experiencing this historic site – transporting you to the heart of the Nabataean story, with unprecedented access to Hegra’s tombs and secret ceremonial chambers

– A wildlife tour that lets you explore the spectacular landscape of Hegra – from its epic geology and impressive variety of flora and fauna (including opportunities to encounter ibexes, oryxes and gazelles), to a hike that takes you to little-trodden viewpoints

– Hinat, a Nabataean woman over 2000 years old brought to life through an ambitious project using archaeology, forensics and technology – an encounter to remember at the Hegra Welcome Centre

Dadan

This is the site of the ancient capital city of the kingdoms of Dadan and Lihyan, which rose to prosperity as a key trading post on the Incense Road. Site highlights include:

– The iconic Lion Tomb of Dadan

– A chance to interact with archaeologists and witness discoveries being made

in real time at one of the world’s most active archaeological sites

– Jabal Ikmah, one of the world’s best sources of Dadanite and Lihyanite inscriptions. Hundreds of rock carvings adorn this ‘open library’. Jabal Ikmah was included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World register in 2023.

 

Wadi AlNaam

Believed to be the ancient ostrich hunting ground of the people of Dadan, this site is saturated in multiple inscriptions and petroglyphs – including the iconic ‘square bodied’ ostriches – dating across thousands of years. Wadi AlNaam opened to the public for the first time during the Ancient Kingdoms Festival 2023. Site highlights include:

– Plethora of inscriptions to be discovered on heritage trails, with historic storytelling and stunning viewpoints set within the Jabal Ikmah valley

 

Khaybar

An ancient oasis and one of the geological wonders of northwest Arabia, this is a unique site born from desert volcanic activity. Site highlights include:

– Natural and cultural heritage in equal parts – panoramic views and an immersion into the sounds and stories of this oasis, which supports a rich variety of plant and animal life along with a unique cultural heritage of its own

– Khaybar Bedouin Camp, an immersive desert camp that serves as an ideal stop-off en route to Khaybar. Hosted by locals and set in grand tents inspired by centuries of bedouin tradition, visitors are offered traditional food and drink alongside handicrafts and family-focussed heritage performances.

– The Oasis Soundscape, presenting a bespoke visitor journey where sound, performance and landscape beautifully combine in a setting like no other

– Unbeatable views while dining in Takya, located in a restored historic dwelling at AlRawan Viewpoint

Tayma

Once the residence of Nabonidus, the last native King of Babylon, Tayma is a seat of prestige and power through chapters in history. Site highlights include:

– Saudi Arabia’s largest well, the Bir Haddaj, as well as palaces and fortresses with their own legends

– Tayma Bedouin Camp, an ideal stop-off en route to Tayma: Land of the Kings. Set in grand tents inspired by centuries of Bedouin tradition, the camp offers delicious food and authentic handicrafts alongside cultural performances, camel riding and falconry

– Tayma LIVE! is a reenactment show presenting Tayma and its iconic landmark Bir Haddaj – one of the largest wells of Arabia. A hydraulic wonder dating back to the sixth Century, Bir Haddaj has been a cherished site at the heart of community life for generations

– King Nabonidus Parade, a dramatic show experience, starring the iconic and enigmatic last Babylonian King Nabonidus, whose decade-long presence in Tayma is shrouded in mystery and intrigue

– The Palace Guest: An Immersive Experience. For the first time in over a century, Tayma’s grand AlRumman Palace is opening its doors to visitors for an unforgettable theatrical experience. Explore the Palace’s complex maze of pathways, courtyards, mosques, and a jail, in this immersive experience of performance and storytelling.

– Enjoy lunch or dinner in Mirzam alongside the historic Bir Haddaj well. Mirzam’s menu features the flavours of the highlands alongside other Saudi Arabian specialties.

AlUla Old Town

This is the heart of AlUla’s intangible cultural heritage and oral histories, the way of life shaped by traditional wisdoms, customs and memories. Site highlights include:

– A labyrinth of traditional mud brick homes with a treasure of murals that continue to be restored and preserved, leading up to the Old Town Fort and onwards to the Incense Road market

– Join in the weekend highlights as the area comes alive with family-friendly activities that celebrate the vibrant culture of AlUla

 

AlUla Oasis

They call it Daimumah, traditionally the summer heartland for the people of AlUla. The Oasis has been revived today to be a verdant hub, supporting a range of activities including agriculture, recreation, community gatherings and a canvas for creative projects. Site highlights include:

– Vibrant date groves, sprawling moringa trees and fragrant citrus scents – providing a backdrop to an array of agricultural practices and traditional crafts

– Heart of the Oasis – a world class restaurant with a farm-to-fork approach. It combines the talent of Chef Susy Massetti with the finest local produce, taking inspiration from traditional Saudi cooking techniques.

Experience highlights

TBC

The first of its kind in the Kingdom, this unique running challenge will take place over the hottest time of the year. Runners from all over the world will participate in this sweltering desert race, across distances ranging from five kilometres to a full marathon.

Until 10 March 2024

Immerse yourself in nature with this 4km hike through the Hidden Valley within the Sharaan Nature Reserve.

Until 10 March 2024

Take your adventure to the next level with rock climbing on the spectacular rocks of AlUla.

Until 10 March 2024

Take a leap on the Giant Swing in AlUla swinging over 85 metres above the ground into a 70-metre arc in a stunning canyon.

Until 10 March 2024

The first of its kind in the region, the AlUla Stairway takes you up a 45-metre ladder with a zipline back down.

TBC

‘The Pinnacle of Camel Racing’, the AlUla Camel Cup brings together some of the world’s finest racing camels to compete in one of the region’s oldest sports. Each day features a different kind of race, testing the speed, strength and endurance of these remarkable ‘ships of the desert’.

TBC

The first Infinity race to ever take place outside of North America, this epic eight-hour competition challenges athletes to accomplish the largest number of laps around an obstacle course. The winner of this incredible event will be awarded one of the largest financial prizes in obstacle-course racing history.

TBC

Returning in its fifth edition, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup will welcome riders to compete on the desert track with the finest horses from around the world. Equestrian enthusiasts and spectators will have an opportunity to experience AlUla’s ancient Arabian horse heritage culture.

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In partnership with a top fashion house, this landmark event will feature a couture collection inspired by AlUla. The mirrored Mayara building and surrounding scenery will also provide stunning backdrops for the fashion show, cocktail reception and showroom.

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Returning for a third edition, the Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo promises four days of high-energy tournament action. The prestigious equestrian event will attract top players from the region and beyond to compete among AlUla’s spectacular scenery.

TBC

This epic event takes runners through stunning desert landscapes and past some of AlUla’s most iconic landmarks. From an ultramarathon to a run for kids, there are also routes for participants of all ages and levels.

Running from November to February

A dynamic centre of all things music, the AlUla Music Hub is located in the bustling arts and culture district of AlJadidah. Children and adults are invited to take lessons for instruments such as the oud, guitar, qanoon and piano. All group courses at the AlUla Music Hub are designed

10 to 20 April, 2024

From enjoying AlUla’s stunning landscape from the air to gazing up at galaxies of stars, the annual AlUla Skies Festival is a celebration of all things sky.