In association with: Royal Commission for AlUla
Journey through time and discover an ancient world
Welcome to AlUla, where heritage is at the heart of everything. There are 200,000 years of unexplored human history to be discovered here, which can be seen through its ancient inscriptions, unique geological formations as well as natural and man-made monuments.
AlUla is located in the northwest of Saudi Arabia, with easy flight connections from the UK via Jeddah or Riyadh with national airline Saudia, or indirect via Dubai with Flynas. AlUla International Airport is just 30 minutes from AlUla Old Town Market, home to a variety of local artisans’ stores, cafes and restaurants.
British visitors can apply for an e-visa to enter Saudi Arabia. This multi-entry visa is valid for a year and allows visitors to stay in the country for up to 90 days.
AlUla’s heritage is its biggest draw. There are several key historic sites in and around the city where your clients will be accompanied by a rawi, a local story teller, who can offer a glimpse into their history and recount stories of the past.
AlUla is home to Saudi Arabia’s first Unesco World Heritage Site, Hegra. With more than 110 carved tombs, it’s a fascinating location to learn about the history of the Nabataean civilisation, who lived there from the end of the first millennium BC.
Hegra can be explored on a two-hour tour that stops at its best bits, including the Tomb of Lihyan son of Kuza – the largest tomb in the site, which stretches an impressive 72 feet tall – and the Hijaz Railway experience to learn about its trading past.
In Dadan, a dozen tombs can be seen carved into the striking red rocks
An iconic way to see this site is to take a Hegra Vintage Land Rover Tour, with a rawi who will guide your group through this ancient wonder. In Dadan, a dozen tombs can be seen carved into the striking red rocks. From afar, these look like simple dark rectangles. A closer look reveals skilfully crafted seated lion sculptures that mark the famous Lion Tombs.
And with the highest concentration of inscriptions across AlUla, Jabal Ikmah is another important heritage site, particularly for those with an interest in ancient languages. Described as an ‘open-air library’, the cliff faces have more than 450 inscriptions carved into them, which give hints into what life was like millennia ago, at the crossroads of trading routes.
Back in the city centre is AlUla’s Old Town. A rawi can give visitors a comprehensive insight into the neighbourhood’s past. The old town is currently in the process of being restored, but remains of its original buildings still stand. It’s home to 900 mud-brick houses, 400 shops and five squares.
All of these heritage sites across AlUla can be booked in advance online through a tour operator or by visiting experiencealula.com
Three of the best outdoor activities in AlUla
1. Watch the sunset from Elephant Rock
Given its name due to its elephant-like shape, its striking orange-red appearance is a fantastic foreground to the changing colours at sunset and is the perfect place for a dinner or mocktail at the end of the day.
2. Explore the oasis of AlUla
The Oasis Trail from Dadan South to AlUla Old Town, and passing by the AlWadi area, is nearly two miles long. Date palm trees, citrus crops and moringa peregrina trees are just some of the fauna that thrive here, which can be seen when walking the trail.
3. Go stargazing at Gharameel
Unpolluted by city lights, the skies above AlUla are incredible for stargazing. As the sun sets here, beautiful hues of orange, pink and gold are the prelude to a magical excursion once the sky drops its curtain. The natural rock formations at Gharameel make the sky views even more spectacular. Make it extra special with a traditional dinner under the stars.
Become an AlUla Specialist
For more information on this new and exciting destination, and to take the agent training course, visit alulaspecialist.com
PICTURES: Royal Commission for AlUla; Jonathan Irish; Ratib Al Safadi