The archaeological site of AlUla, dear to the heritage of Saudi Arabia and a veritable spearhead of tourism in the kingdom has been, like all tourist sites in the world, impacted by the coronavirus contingency measures. Closed to the public for several months, the area includes some of the best preserved ancient sites in the Middle East. Their reopening is scheduled for October.
It is an unexpected pit stop that occurred at the very beginning of the race for AlUla. But the little gem that carries the hopes of the Saudi team will soon be able to return to the track. The region, which was still in its infancy in terms of tourism, should see the crowds begin to flock again in October. Visitor visas will even be automatically and graciously extended for three months.
With its Nabataean tombs and numerous rock inscriptions, AlUla is a real crown jewel in terms of archaeology and heritage, and a major asset for the development of tourism in the region.
Four major sites are reopening as a priority
Yesterday, the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) announced the reopening of four major AlUla sites… First, the Nabataean Necropolis of Hegra, which was built in rock between the first century BC and the first century AD, and which became the first site in the country to be classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. Other sites scheduled to reopen in October include the archaeological remains of Dadan Valley, which flourished during the first millennium BC, Jabal Ikmah, a cliff with rock carvings, and the old city of AlUla, where the inhabitants of the region have lived since the 12th century AD.
If the commission wishes to preserve the region from the potential damage of tourism, it also strives to develop an innovative and immersive tourism experience, by offering excursions accompanied by local guides and “storytellers”, called Rawi, flights over the area in balloons or light aircraft, night sky observations, buggy rides, or the Winter at Tantora festival, now in its third year.