Key Saudi tourist destination set to start re-opening from October 31

AlUla, the open-air museum in north west Saudi Arabia, to re-open heritage sites in bid to realise its tourism ambitions

An area the size of a small country, AlUla is accessible by road and Saudia flights from Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam.

AlUla, the open-air museum of historical and cultural significance in north west Saudi Arabia, will be re-opening its heritage sites on October 31 in a significant step to realise its tourism ambitions.

The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) confirmed that the UNESCO World Heritage Site Hegra, the ancient kingdom of Dadan and the canyons of Jabal Ikmah will be the first sites to re-open to the public, having been largely closed off to visitors for two years.

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Visitors are encouraged to sign up to to hear when bookings become available for the heritage sites and when other bookable experiences are live.

Visitors to AlUla will enjoy significant airport enhancements, new transport options around town and the heritage sites and two new visitor centres, the RCU said in a statement.

It added that significant coronavirus safety measures have been put in place that adhere to the Ministry of Health protocols, which align which the ‘safe travels’ guidelines published by the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Measures include mandatory pre-booking of tickets, temperature checks at the airport, distancing and limitations of visitors at heritage and other sites, increased sanitation measures and mandatory mask-wearing.

Phillip Jones, chief destination management and marketing officer, RCU said: “There is no doubt it’s been a challenging year for all industries but our teams have worked hard to deliver this important stage in our tourism journey, and in the next chapter of AlUla’s journey through time”

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Activations and immersive experiences at the heritage sites, as well as adventure experiences and events will be announced over the coming weeks and will be phased in over the winter months, with the full suite of experiences planned for the winter season to be expected by the first quarter of 2021.

AlUla Old Town too will be open as a visitor experience to the public for the first time from December, the RCU revealed.

Jones added: “We are developing engaging, authentic, light-touch tourism experiences that hero the essence of AlUla – our heritage sites, natural assets and of course the AlUla community.

“We have a full team onsite to get the destination ready to welcome those first visitors and we’re excited to give the local community a chance to revisit their heritage sites before the rest of the world, while we continue to build on the experiences.”

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The RCU last month appointed an agency to develop the historic tourism destination as a year-round holiday as part of ambitious plans to attract 2 million tourists annually by 2035.

The commission appointed Aviareps as the destination’s travel trade marketing and communications representative in Saudi Arabia, as well as Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE with immediate effect.

AlUla was the capital of the ancient kingdoms of Dadan and Lihyan, which controlled the caravan trade of old. AlUla is also home to the site of Hegra (Al-Hijr), which was the principal southern city of the Nabataean kingdom, famed for its spectacular monumental tombs.

An area the size of a small country, AlUla is accessible by road and Saudia flights from Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam.

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