How about watching a rock concert surrounded by a landscape of desert, valleys and mammoth rock formations dating back a thousand years? Or launching a new business venture or a super-luxury brand contrasting with 2,00,000 years of rich human history and culture?
Sounds exotic, right? Well, if you're on the lookout for a locale where natural history abounds, time stands still and yet, has all the perks of contemporary living in place: an experience like none other awaits you at AlUla. Located on the northwest of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it is positioned on the original pilgrimage route to Mecca and approximately 325 km north of Madinah.
AlUla is jaw droppingly beautiful, to say the least. It has vast stretches of unspoilt landscape, sandstone mountains interspersed with soaring red rock canyons and fascinating rock formations sculpted by nature looming large over the sprawling desert. The raw, breathtaking arid desert contrasting with the 20 km longlush, green oasis with millions of palms and native wildflowers make AlUla a sight to behold. It is like a landscape that is waiting to be explored, layer by layer.
Cartier did it. Rolls-Royce has done it, too. If you're also keen to promote your brand, host a business meet, or are on the lookout for a wedding venue at a stunning location, Maraya at AlUla will notch up the experience and your prospects like none other. Rising from the sand like a mirage, Maraya is a world-class multi-purpose concert and entertainment venue made of 9,740 square metres of mirrors covering the exterior waIls of this cube-shaped structure. This award-winning, state-of-the-art structure with a name that translates to 'mirror' or 'reflection' in Arabic, is the largest mirrored building in the world as per Guinness World Records.
Located merely 12 km away from Saudi Arabia's first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hegra, Maraya is currently undergoing further enhancements including increased capacity, a dedicated conference floor equipped with the latest theatrical and operatic sound systems, a ground floor restaurant and a stunning rooftop terrace overlooking the Ashar valley, an oasis and desert surroundings.
Maraya's giant retractable window of more than 800 square metres opens to nature and is designed in such a way that it blends into the surrounding landscape. It was recently named as the winner in one of the world's biggest architecture awards, Architizer A+ Awards, run by New York-based Architizer.com.
Maraya is home to AlUla's growing culture scene. Several international artistes of repute like Andrea Bocelli, Lionel Richie, and Yanni have performed here. It has also been a location for commercial film shoots by luxury brands like Cartier and Rolls-Royce. Moreover, Winter At Tantora Festival witnessed a celebration of international events, including the First Hegra Conference of Nobel Laureates 2020 held in the city of AlUla from January 30 to February 1.
The glass structure cocoons you in the lap of luxury even as you're surrounded by a vast, endless desert that reflects a 2,00,000-year-old history.
A SLICE OF HISTORY
A stay in AlUla is a journey through time. Petroglyphs and inscriptions carved on rocks tell the history of the way people lived, the animals that lived among them, the traditions and the rituals that were important to them. Jabal Ikmah alone has more than 500 rocks inscribed in more than five different languages.
Evidence of human activity in AlUla can be traced back to the Stone Age. The lush oasis and access to water made it a favourable place to shelter. Settlements included the ancient city of Dadan, which is a live excavation site, and the city of Hegra, which became Saudi Arabia's first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. Hegra was built by the Nabataeans as their southern principal city and contains 134 well-preserved tombs, 94 of them elaborately carved facades.
The iconic Elephant Rock, benevolently watching over her desert home has become a spot for the must-have Instagram picture for those who have visited, as has the spectacular canyon area of Sharaan that has been designated a Nature Reserve. These apart, AlUla Old Town settlement, with its mud-brick houses, intricate urban pattern, outstanding fort and the remains of arts and craft, is yet another example of historical significance.
Explore the best of luxury and history that turns an event into one with a timeless appeal.