Archaeologically rich Al-Ula in Saudi Arabia
Archaeologically rich Al Ula in Saudi Arabia has officially reopened. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Al Ula, the historical crossroad of ancient civilizations in northwest Saudi Arabia, has officially reopened for visitors this weekend, local media reported.

The Royal Commission for Al Ula (RCU) has unveiled the full suite of experiences that will be introduced in a phased manner over the coming months.

Heritage sites, Hegra, Jabal Ikmah and Dadan are the first to reopen for bookings. The Hegra experience includes full immersion into the Nabataean ways of life at sites, including the most iconic, Tomb of Lihyan son of Kuza, plus Jabal Ithlib, The Diwan, Jabal Alhamar, and the well.

At the ancient city of Dadan, the capital city of the Dadanite and Liyhanite kingdoms and one of the most developed cities in the first millennia BC, visitors will get a chance to become an archaeologist for the day.

Archaeologists began extensive excavations at Dadan in February 2020 to explore this relatively unknown period in Al Ua’s 200,000 years of human history. From December, a family-friendly 40-minute “Archaeology for Everyone” workshop will have kids digging for artifacts to get in on the action. There will also be live immersion shows, audio tours and visitors will have the opportunity to tour the extensive site in a vintage Jeep.

Night markets

Other experiences announced for later in the year include camel tours of key tombs and night-time experiences including light shows and night-time markets.

From late December, parts of Al Ula Old Town will be open to the public. While full conservation is-ongoing, the visitor experience will include Rawi tours of Tantora Plaza and sundial and views from Al Ula citadel; the opportunity to experience a bustling Suq, handicraft pavilions and souvenirs to shop for, as well as new dining options.

Outside of the heritage sites, there will be plenty of other activities to keep visitors entertained. A new Adventure Canyon area will offer a suite of experiences for those looking for high-energy thrills.

From mid-November, visitors will be able to appreciate the landscapes, rock art, dunes, and peaks of the desert while zipping around in these fun three-person dune buggy vehicles or book an evening Stargazing tour at Al Charameel rocks.

Another trail available from mid-November is the leisurely two-hour Cycling Trail which runs through palm groves and citrus trees. A Horse Riding Trail through the oasis is also slated for later in the year.

Bike track

Available from December, a family-fun bump and pump bike track is being constructed as well as a zipline by Warrior at the new Adventure Canyon by experienced operators Warrior.

For a more relaxing experience, the AlUla Fresh Farm visit offers visitors a glimpse into life on an Al Ula farm complete with farm tours, fruit picking, animal feeding and seed planting. From the 2.3 million date palms trees to the 29 types of citrus fruit, farms play an important role in Al Ula’s economy and daily life.

Al Ula will also welcome new permanent experiences in the arts and cultural space. The former Al Ula Secondary School for girls near Al Ula Old Town is being transformed into an arts and traditional crafts hub.

Restaurants have also been given careful consideration and further announcements are to be made in the coming weeks about some exciting new dining options. In the meantime, key local cafes Barzan and Al Makher are working with RCU to ensure a year-round offer of fabulous local cuisine. A Winter Park area will include pop-up food trucks for a more casual grab and go eating option.