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The World’s Largest Living Museum

AlUla is an ancient oasis in a desert valley with fertile soil and plentiful water. Serving as a crossroads between three continents and a gateway from Arabia to the East and West, AlUla has been built from successive civilisations and peoples and today is an open, living museum.

There are traces of many who have built AlUla over millennia, from the capital of the kingdoms of Dadan and Lihyan, to the trading hubs of the Nabataeans and into the Islamic era. Much of AlUla’s epic rock formations, valley and sandy desert remains an untouched expanse, with discoveries yet to be made threaded through its rich and layered past.

AlUla attracted pilgrims and travellers who came to take advantage of the abundant resources offered by its fertile oases. The people of AlUla have long been lauded for their hospitality, celebrated by famous explorers of the past for their warmth and authenticity. A vital crossroads along the famous incense-trading routes running from southern Arabia north into Egypt and beyond, AlUla's oases dotted the area and offered a much-needed respite for caravans of weary travellers. It remains a welcoming place to rest, commune and recharge.

Saudi Arabia’s First UNESCO World Heritage Site
Hegra: The Star of AlUla’s World-Class Attractions

The Nabataean site of Hegra, was the southern capital of the Nabataean kingdom, dating back to the first century BCE. Today, visitors will find that more than 100 well-preserved monumental tombs remain, most with elaborate facades carved from rock formations that are scattered throughout this immense desert landscape.

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Capital of Ancient Kingdoms
Dadan: Crossroads of Trade for Millennia

Before the Nabataeans, AlUla was the capital of the ancient kingdoms of Dadan and Lihyan, which controlled the caravan trade in the first millennium BCE. Dadan linked southern Arabian kingdoms producing valuable aromatics to the growing markets in the Mediterranean world. See remarkably well-preserved tombs, expertly carved from a towering red-rock mountain face that overlooks the valley oasis. A special highlight is the famed Lion Tombs marked by seated lion sculptures.

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Where Ancient Inscriptions Adorn Canyon Walls
Jabal Ikmah: AlUla’s Open Library

What was part of the caravan way station served as a record keeper of sorts with carvings providing information to researchers about the way of life of the Dadanites, Lihyanites and others. Hundreds of inscriptions referring to journeys, pilgrimage, ritual and offerings can be found here. Rock art depicting humans, chariots, harps, camels, bovines, goats, scorpions and ibex can all be spotted.

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A Labyrinth of Stories
AlUla Old Town: The Historic Crossroads

Climb the rock-hewn steps of a fort above an abandoned labyrinth of streets that was occupied from the 900s CE until the 1980s. Nearly 900 two-storey mud brick houses, 400 shops, five squares and a mosque populated the oasis town. It was a key stop along the Islamic pilgrimage route from Damascus to Makkah. Travellers, traders and pilgrims would be met outside the town’s walls.

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Legacy of the Pilgrims’ Road
Hijaz Railway &
The Fort of Hegra

Routes of pilgrimage crossed the landscape of AlUla, as in its ancient past. As well as the Syrian and Egyptian routes, AlUla hosted part of the Aylah passage that connected Madinah to Aqaba in Jordan. Great importance was placed on these journey ways, and they were well maintained for pilgrims with forts, watchtowers and water sources.

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A Civilisation Steeped in Language, Innovation & Culture
Discover the Nabataeans

Around the middle of the 1st millennium BCE, a nomadic tribe of traders emerged in the desert lands of Jordan. Their trade routes allowed for close relationships with civilisations from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome to India and as far as China. They harnessed these connections and control of trade routes and made their mark in engineering, architecture and written language.

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Nature & Outdoors
AlUla is a Natural Wonder of the World

There’s also a sense of openness, vastness and quiet that invites visitors to wander in AlUla’s living museum, from dramatic rock formations to rolling, sand-swept dunes to a valley cloaked in palm and citrus groves to clues from basalt lava flows from millennia ago.

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