RIYADH: Saudi officials have unveiled elaborate plans to develop AlUla, which is home to the kingdom’s first global heritage site, into the ‘world’s largest living museum’ over the next 15 years.
Addressing the gathering at World Urban Forum 2020, Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) officials revealed the framework and masterplans for sustainable, responsible, long-term development of the 22,0561-sq-km county that is set to attract 2 million visitors by 2035.
AlUla is renowned for its outstanding natural beauty as well as its tremendous archaeological diversity. It is also shaping a new cultural landscape in Saudi Arabia.
Located 1,100 km from Riyadh in north-west Saudi Arabia, AlUla is a place of extraordinary natural and human heritage. The vast area includes a lush oasis valley, towering sandstone mountains and ancient cultural heritage sites dating back thousands of years to when the Lihyan and Nabataean kingdoms reigned.
The most well-known and recognised site in AlUla is Hegra, Saudi’s first Unesco World Heritage Site. In addition to Hegra, AlUla is home to a series of fascinating historical and archaeological sites such as: Ancient Dadan, the capital of the Dadan and Lihyan Kingdoms; thousands of ancient rock art sites; and Hijaz Railway stations.
A milestone in Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Vision to establish AlUla as the world’s largest living museum and a major heritage, cultural, arts and adventure tourism destination was reached this week as the AlUla framework plan was revealed at the 10th UN World Urban Forum.
RCU chief executive Amr Al Madani said: “We chose the World Urban Forum as a credible global platform to engage with the world’s leading developers and sustainability experts and share our plans for the long-term, responsible development of AlUla as world’s largest living museum.”
“By combining heritage with nature, we are transforming the cultural landscape of AlUla and establishing the county as a global tourism destination with a thriving economy and local community,” he stated.
Calling upon global experts to join the RCU on this ambitious journey, Al Madani said: “We see a clear road ahead as we attract investment and continue to protect, preserve, share and celebrate our heritage and nature with the world. This means we learn and innovate together.”
“Not only have we opened our doors to travellers benefiting from Saudi Arabia’s new tourist visas, we’ve also delivered the infrastructure that is central to growth,” he added.
Around 80 percent of AlUla County will be protected, including cultural and natural heritage sites, where the RCU will work for hand in hand with the local community to ensure the sensitive protection preservation and development, she added