In addition to its enchanting history and culture, AlUla is home to raw, breathtaking wilderness and an array of diverse flora and fauna. At Sharaan Nature Reserve, 1,500 square kilometres (579 square miles) of soaring red-rock canyons, sprawling desert and valleys carpeted in delicate wildflowers offer a treasure trove of natural wonders.
The mission of Sharaan is to restore, protect and conserve the sensitive ecosystem native to AlUla. The region hosts an abundance of fascinating wildlife, including red-necked ostriches bedecked in rich plumage, regal Nubian ibex and graceful Idmi gazelles. Efforts are currently underway to restore the area, allowing for its natural inhabitants to reclaim the land.
The region hosts an abundance of fascinating wildlife, including red-necked ostriches bedecked in rich plumage, regal Nubian ibex and graceful Idmi gazelles. The Sharaan Nature Reserve also provides a welcoming sanctuary for species like the lanky-limbed Cape hare, the marmot-like rock hyrax and a variety of birds. Brilliant green bee-eaters, dappled crested larks and eagles all cut through the sky in AlUla.
Endangered Arabian wolves, gazelles and large-eared red foxes are already again roaming these beautiful lands, demonstrating a healthy ecosystem. But the most alluring of these creatures by far are the critically endangered Arabian leopards. The Sharaan aspires to restore the ecosystem to such a point that the silky, painted big cats can be reintroduced, helping the species thrive once more.
Indigenous to this stunning landscape are acacia trees, whose arching branches provide shade for flowering grasses that flutter in desert breezes. Recently a number of these trees have been planted to encourage the growth of native plant life, such as deceptively leafless thickets that daintily erupt with light pink blossoms and several rare species, including Pulicaria incisa — an aromatic herb with small but vibrant yellow sunflower blooms.
In the future, the reserve will host a luxury retreat designed by world-renowned architect Jean Nouvel. The resort’s design will be inspired by the unparalleled wilderness, history and culture of AlUla and will embrace the values of eco-tourism.
Sharaan Nature Reserve is currently closed to visitors due to Covid-19. Sharaan Nature Reserve's expert wildlife rangers will lead guided tours when the reserve opens to visitors.