The AlUla valley, located 300km north of Medina, is a place of extraordinary human and natural heritage. The Wadi Al-Qura (the Valley of Villages), a lush oasis valley that runs through AlUla, sheltered by sandstone mountains, created a perfect environment for civilisations to flourish. The Dedanites, Lihyanites, Nabataeans and Romans all built their cities here.
The AlUla county is a natural crossroads and was an important trading route used from at least the first millennium BCE. Positioned on the ancient Incense Route between Southern Arabia and Egypt, AlUla became a hub of commercial and cultural exchange, its cities and oases important stopping-points for traders of frankincense, myrrh and other precious commodities.
The single most significant heritage landmark in AlUla is the Nabatean city of Hegra, a 52-hectare ancient city also known as Mada’in Salih, which was Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site (2008). Hegra is best known for its more than 100 beautiful and remarkably well-preserved tombs, with elaborate façade cut into or out of rock formations.
In addition to Hegra, AlUla is home to a series of other important historical and archaeological sites such as: Al-Khuraybah (ancient Dadan), the capital of the Dadan and Lihyan Kingdoms, which is considered one of the most developed 1st-millennium BCE cities of the Arabian Peninsula; thousands of ancient rock art and inscriptions; and Hijaz Railway stations.
Across AlUla there are hundreds of inscriptions, in Safaitic, Aramaic, ‘Thamudic’, Minaic, Greek and Latin. Al-Aqra’a potentially features over 450 early Arabic inscriptions while Jabal Ikma is considered one of the largest open air ‘libraries’ in Saudi Arabia and perhaps the most significant epigraphic site. It contains hundreds of inscriptions and writings, dating mainly to the Dadanite and Lihyanite periods.
A team of international and local archaeology experts are currently working in AlUla to meticulously record and document the area. This work will help us better understand the region’s mysterious past and has already begun to uncover sites that have been lost, lying dormant and untouched for thousands of years.
All these civilisations left their cultural legacies for us to discover and it is vital that AlUla’s natural and historic sites are protected for generations to come. Our ambition is to make them accessible to visitors from the all over the world.
Tracing the footsteps of ancient civilisations our development work in AlUla begins with a thorough survey researching and documenting the area to uncover its lost histories.