Arts & Culture

“Al-Ula”… Journey through Time Speaks Up

Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Crown Prince and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula Governorate launched the design vision for the “Journey Through Time” scheme.

 The project aims to revitalize and rehabilitate the main archaeological area in Al-Ula responsibly and sustainably, in a unique cultural and natural environment in the northwest of the Kingdom.

 The project is a major station within the program to develop Al-Ula and turn it into a leading global destination for arts, heritage, culture, and nature, to achieve the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

 The “Journey Through Time” scheme is under the leadership of the Crown Prince, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula Governorate, and the follow-up of Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, Governor of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula Governorate. It consists of 3 main phases, and its first phase is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year 2023.

The “Journey Through Time” scheme is part of a comprehensive development program for Al-Ula supervised by the Royal Commission for Al-Ula Governorate. The development strategy, when completed in 2035, aims to create 38,000 new job opportunities, in addition to contributing 120 billion riyals to the Kingdom’s GDP.

The “Journey Through Time” scheme presents a distinctive historical map of the civilizations that inhabited the various oases of Al-Ula over more than 7000 years of human history, by investing in the heritage and cultural richness and the natural and geological richness of the region, through the participation of its distinguished community in the development process to preserve the legacy of Al-Ula.

Inspired by the nature and heritage of Al-Ula, five centers will be established, stretching 20 kilometers from the heart of Al-Ula, in inspirational and essential stations along the “Journey Through Time” itinerary.

These centers start from the center of the old town in the south, passing through the center of the Dadan Oasis, the Jabal Ikma Oasis, and the Nabataean Oasis, all the way to the ancient city of Al-Hajar in the north. Each of these centers is a cultural landmark in its own right, and uniquely reflects the unique nature and topography of this geographical area.

  This spatial design of distinguished cultural centers and facilities has been adopted to provide a unique experience for visitors to explore the region’s rich history.

Within these centers, 15 new cultural facilities, including museums, galleries, and attractions, will be established as landmarks for each center, with more than 5,000 rooms and accommodations added.

Each center offers its blend of living and hospitality options offering multiple options from hotels and eco-tourism resorts to luxury lodges and canyon farms carved into the rocks of the mountains.

Perhaps one of the most notable projects of the “Journey Through Time” scheme is the Kingdoms Institute, a global center for the studies of civilizations that inhabited northwestern Arabia over more than 7,000 years of human history, including the ancient Arab kingdoms of Dadan, Lehyan and the Nabataeans in the ancient city of Al-Hajar. It is one of the sites included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The “Journey Through Time” scheme provides authentic tourist experiences full of details of the heritage and natural diversity of AlUla residents and visitors through sustainable solutions and concepts for mobility that aim to reduce road congestion, reduce noise, employing electric and sustainable energy effectively, and strengthen the network of connectivity between centers, neighborhoods, heritage and tourism sites offering diverse and interesting experiences and transportation options that celebrate the beauty of nature and heritage in AlUla.

 In line with Al-Ula’s position as a crossroads and communication center for northwestern Arabia, the Al-Ula tourist train will connect Al-Ula International Airport with the five centers.

 The “Journey Through Time” scheme constitutes a national investment in the AlUla community through the authority’s commitment to support and enable community participation. The scheme includes the provision of community services, new facilities, public squares, and a range of cultural and educational facilities, which achieves a cultural economy for AlUla and improves the lifestyle of the individual and family.

 The plan will also contribute to the revival and rehabilitation of the cultural oasis, and the sustainable development of its agricultural community, to develop the agricultural sector in the governorate.

As the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia renews its commitment to preserving and safeguarding world heritage, the “Journey Through Time” scheme was based on extensive scientific studies on human patterns, environmental and geological development in AlUla, which was supervised by a team of Saudi and international experts for three years.

 These studies seek to achieve the concept of coexistence with nature and to celebrate the cultural and historical heritage of the governorate. As a result, revitalizing and rehabilitating Al-Ula’s cultural oasis and promoting the sustainable development of its community is an integral part of the “Journey Through Time” scheme, as a direct response to the challenges of sustainable and responsible development of a threatened natural environment.

The Kingdoms Institute and the Al-Ula Cultural Oasis Revitalization Project reflect Saudi Arabia’s commitment to providing a role model in protecting and preserving the world’s cultural and natural heritage.

The project is based on solid policies for developing natural areas, sustainable agricultural production, and improving water management, in addition to promoting the principles of circular economy in the scheme.

In addition, 80% of the total area of ​​Al-Ula will be allocated as nature reserves to restore plants and restore natural systems, including the conservation and resettlement of wild animals and the protection of their natural habitats. 

In harmony with the “Green Saudi Arabia” initiative, the AlUla development program relies on a strategy to rehabilitate and revive the oases.

This is through the implementation of the Cultural Oasis project within the “Journey Through Time” scheme, and the rehabilitation of 10 million square meters of green spaces, which contributes to increasing the natural vegetation cover, enhances the safety of the local environment, and is fully in line with the Kingdom’s ambition to reduce carbon emissions planting 10 million trees and increasing green areas by 12 times in the coming years.

The scheme will contribute to this by welcoming two million visitors annually and promoting agriculture, arts, and culture as key economic sectors along with the tourism sector. As part of this development, the Royal Commission for Al-Ula Governorate and its partners are targeting the construction of more than 9,000 hotel rooms by 2035.

 The implementation of the scheme also helps in providing promising opportunities to encourage partnerships and investments from entities that share with the Royal Commission for Al-Ula Governorate in the values ​​of sustainability, responsible development, and community participation.

The Arabian Peninsula region has attracted many non-Arab travelers and explorers over the years, and they took the trouble to travel to it for more than 100 years to get to know it and study the heritage of its successive civilizations on its land.

Among those civilizations is the civilization of Al-Ula Governorate, known for its ancient historical landmarks, such as Mada’in Saleh, which dates back to 300 BC, and historians have described it as the mirror of the civilizations of the ancient world whose secrets have remained elusive to many researchers until the present time.

“Al-Ula” is one of the governorates of the Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah region, which is 300 km away from it to the north. Diverse mountain and golden dunes.

The visitor to Al-Ula receives a breeze of fresh air that spreads the sickness in the place to delight the soul eager for rest, especially in its quiet night, when the darker the sky becomes a piece of twinkling stars, while palm trees meet in the valley, water with the freshwater of Al-Ula flowing from its subterranean eyes.

Under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and His Highness the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, an independent commission was established for Al-Ula Governorate, under the name of (The Royal Commission for Al-Ula Governorate).

The Commission reflects the importance of developing Al-Ula Governorate in a manner commensurate with its historical value and the archaeological sites it contains, to achieve the envisaged economic and cultural interest, and the goals on which the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 is based.

The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 approved the registration of more heritage sites in the Kingdom in the World Heritage List, and everyone will be able to access them as a witness to our ancient heritage, and the prominent position of our country on the map of human civilization.

Many historical studies indicate that Al-Ula was visited by Muslim travelers during their journey to Hajj, including Ibn Battuta Sunna, and Abdul Qadir Al-Jaziri Al-Ansari, and a group of Western explorers visited it during their visit to the Arabian Peninsula in the years 1880, 1903, 1907, 1909, 1910, and 1964.

The English traveler J Cook prepared a study in 1903 on Ma’an Al-Ula entitled (Northern Semitic Writings), which is a clear indication of the West’s interest since ancient times in studying the ancient heritage extending from the Levant to the Arabian Peninsula, and the King Abdulaziz House was interested in translating most of them into Arabic.

During this era, the Kingdom, under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and His Highness the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is restoring interest in these historical riches that reflect the status and heritage of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The French travelers were distinguished from other nationalities by their passion for the ancient heritage. The French explorer Charles Huber made two trips to the Arabian Peninsula, the first in 1880 and the second in 1884, during which he visited: Al-Jawf, Hail, Jubbah, Buraydah, Tayma, and Khaybar.

Al-Ula visitors are keen to visit archaeological sites that have a historical value in Islam, and where moments of contemplation and contemplation gather when viewing: Mada’in Saleh, the archaeological Khraibeh, the archaeological mountain of Ukma, the incomes of the wilderness, and the desert moderate.

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