7 incredible reasons to explore Saudi Arabia’s hidden treasure, AlUla
Don’t hibernate – head to AlUla for its thrilling events line-up instead…
If you’re anything like us, you would have already started gathering ideas on exploring close-to-home adventures. While there are plenty of destinations in Saudi Arabia worth a spot on your local travel bucket list, AlUla needs to be on your radar, pronto.
Just a quick flight away from Riyadh, this magical destination is known for its stunning desert landscape, canyons, towering sandstone rock formations and palm-fringed oases. And this winter, AlUla will be even more spectacular, thanks to the launch of exciting new festivals, from culinary experiences to music events.
Still not convinced yet? Here are seven incredible reasons why you should travel to AlUla this winter.
1. Stay in the new majestic eco-resort, Habitas AlUla
Nestled within an ancient oasis in the desert canyons of the Ashar Valley, Habitas AlUla brings luxury living to the region in an eco-friendly way.
Facilities include a yoga deck, wellness and fitness centres, and a regionally inspired restaurant that uses fresh ingredients from local farms. Habitas also offers art and culture walks, canyon trekking, yoga, meditation and breathwork.
In addition, guests are invited to gather and expand their knowledge of this historical region with weekly outdoor cinema screenings featuring regional cultural films and documentaries, as well as open discussion lectures relating to local initiatives, culture, and history.
2. Feast at Michelin-starred Chef Jason Atherton’s restaurant, Maraya Social
One of Britain’s best-loved chefs and owner of multiple Michelin-starred restaurants worldwide, Jason Atherton’s newest restaurant Maraya Social is located on the rooftop of the extraordinary, mirrored building Maraya.
The cuisine takes inspiration from AlUla with produce sourced from local farms; all served up in Atherton’s signature style. Maraya Social is only open for dinner from Wednesday to Saturday.
3. Explore Saudi’s first Unesco World Heritage Site, Hegra
Visit Hegra to experience Saudi Arabia’s first Unesco World Heritage Site. Here, you’ll explore over 110 remarkably well-preserved tombs set in a desert landscape while learning about the ancient people and culture of AlUla.
Along with the wondrous tombs used to lay Nabataean elite to rest, visitors will find wells and stone-lined water channels demonstrating the civilisation’s expert craftsmanship. Roman influence is also present in the form of defensive walls, gates and towers that once encircled the city.
4. Awaken your senses at Hegra after Dark experience
Enjoy the Hegra silence by participating in the Hegra after Dark under cover of darkness.
About 3,000 battery operated candles will be placed by the entrance of one of the Hegra Tombs, where seating areas inspired by the Nabataean civilisation are engulfed in the aroma of incense. This will be coupled with finger food prepared and served by Ferrandi students. The setup includes rugs, floor cushions, low tables.
Hegra after Dark experience consists of three sessions: the first experience will awaken guests’ senses in a darkened sensorium to taste, hear, smell, touch and see what the Nabataeans experienced every day.
The second experience will be an entertaining and immersive performance about the Nabataean warrior Queen ‘Queen Shaklith Historical Re-enactment’, available in English or Arabic. Then, guests will end the night with an incredible stargazing experience.
Hegra After Dark is a weekend experience from Thursdays to Saturdays at 7pm and 9pm.
5. Experience the highly anticipated festivals, AlUla Moments
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Alula’s events calendar is jam-packed with experiences that feed all the senses – from music to art, heritage, adventure, culture, and food.
Winter at Tantora, the very first music and arts festival in the Kingdom, returns – now in a six-week format. A stunning Candlelit Symphonic Concert at Hegra will set the tone for the festival season as the opening event.
From February 2021, the AlUla Arts festival will bring together exhibitions and encounters created by a diverse array of artistic talents in celebration of AlUla’s legacy as a cultural crossroads. Throughout March, Alula’s cultural oasis will become a focal point for wellness during the Alula Wellness Festival.
6. Catch a fantastic series of Maraya musical concerts
Book your tickets now to see artists Cheb Khaled and Lena Chamamyan as they take to the stage at Maraya next month.
Performing on December 10, Lena Chamamyan’s enchanting soprano revives folkloric songs with modern styles and arrangements.
You’ll also get the chance to meet the one and only Cheb Khaled, an international superstar best known for his hit singles “Didi”, “Aisha”, and “C’est la vie”. The Algerian singer will be performing live at the award-winning Maraya for the first time on December 17.
7. Get off your feet – and into the sky
AlUla is such a unique destination because of its layer upon layer of human history and a wealth of natural wonders waiting to be explored. Few locations can boast such a rich combination of heritage, culture, and natural beauty.
Visitors can also explore Alula by hot air balloon, zipline, 4×4 safari, helicopter and even a vintage aircraft – a chance to experience Alula’s openness, vastness and magic from above. You’ll be awed by the geological landscapes, from mazes of dramatic rock formations and rolling, sand-swept dunes to a valley cloaked in the palm and citrus groves and millennia-old clues in the basalt lava flow.