The royal tombs of the Saudi Madain Saleh are famous in Al-Ula, which has been a popular tourist destination since its opening in 2019.
It was dug into the rocks by the Nabataeans 2,000 years ago, who built the city of Petra in Jordan before the advent of Islam.
Five nearby sites associated with the Dadaani and Lihyan civilizations, which existed 2,000 years ago, are now being excavated by a team of French and Saudi archaeologists.
Abdul Rahman Al-Sahibani, who is involved in managing the Dadan Archeology Mission, said that the project attempts to decipher the ambiguities surrounding these two civilizations.
The Old Testament mentioned the kingdom of Dadan. The kingdom of Lihyan, was one of the largest kingdoms at the time.
In modern-day Jordan, it stretched from Yathrib in the south to Aqaba in the north.
The two kingdoms existed for nearly 900 years until the year 100 AD, and they controlled vital trade routes, but information about them is scarce.
The team hopes to learn more about the rituals of worship, social life, and the economy in the two kingdoms.
Jerome Romer, a researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research, said that excavation work was previously limited to the main reserve area.
The kingdom relies on tourism as part of its attempts to open up to the world and diversify its economic resources instead of relying on oil.
The AlUla development project represents a step towards preserving heritage sites before the advent of Islam to attract non-Muslim tourists and enhance national identity.