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Royal Commission for AlUla hosts ‘Launching the Vision for AlUla’

• The Royal Commission for AlUla announced its vision to responsibly develop AlUla as a world heritage destination centered around conservation and collaboration with the local community • Projects announced include the Sharaan Nature Reserve, Sharaan Resort and the establishment of The Global Fund for the Arabian Leopard Under the patronage of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Chairman of the Royal Commission for AlUla, the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) hosted the Launching the Vision for AlUla ceremony to announce its plan to responsibly develop AlUla, the place of heritage for the world, into a destination centered around the conservation of the region’s spectacular natural and cultural heritage, hand-in-hand with the local community. The ceremony to launch the vision for this region was attended by a diverse audience of senior local and international officials, as well as leading arts and culture figures, heritage and nature experts, and major investors. Governor of RCU and Minister of Culture HH Prince Badr bin Abdullah al Saud said: “With a past that represents an authentic history of exchange and trade between cultures, AlUla offers explorers from around the world a once-hidden destination to discover and celebrate. We invite archaeologists and visionary thinkers from around the world to explore alongside us.” Set in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s northwest region, AlUla contains a number of archaeological treasures and ancient cities, with evidence of major civilizations, including most notably the Dadan/Lihyan and the Nabataean kingdoms. Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the prominent southern capital of the Nabataeans. RCU is delivering a sensitive, responsible transformation of the region. Heritage, the local community, aspirations for AlUla, and the creation of a lasting footprint form AlUla’s narrative and underpin a destination with a unique constellation of historic and new wonders. Amr AlMadani, CEO of RCU, stated: "The public launch of our vision for AlUla is an exciting step forward in our journey to protect the natural heritage of the region and share its rich cultural history around the globe. A trip to AlUla is like taking a journey through time; where every rock tells a story, and we want to introduce this beautiful place to the world.” As part of our mission to protect and responsibly develop our world heritage site, the Royal Commission maintains strong partnerships with international experts, one of which is our partnership with France, namely with the French Agency for AlUla Development (AFALULA). Franck Riester, Minister of Culture of France, attended the ceremony to celebrate this continued partnership. Gérard Mestrallet, AFALULA Executive President, said: “Witnessing the launch of the vision for this unique destination is beyond inspiring. We look forward to the continued partnership with RCU on how the exploration of AlUla can develop a global destination loved by the world.” Highly committed to preserving the natural integrity of AlUla’s landscapes and to re-establishing the rich diversity of plant-life and wildlife that once flourished here, the canyon area of Sharaan has been designated a nature reserve. This reserve will set a new standard for restoring fragile ecosystems and reflecting Saudi Arabia’s commitment to protecting the earth’s natural environment. A number of endangered animal species including Nubian ibexes, red-necked ostriches and idmi gazelles were also reintroduced into the reserve. As part of this conservation initiative, the Royal Commission announced its goal to create the Global Fund for the Arabian Leopard, the world’s largest fund to protect the endangered big cat native to the mountains of the region. Additionally, the Royal Commission broke ground on the site for the just-announced Sharaan Resort, a responsibly-designed development and summit centre designed by iconic French architect Jean Nouvel. The Resort will be uniquely integrated into its monumental sandstone setting, a testament to architecture rooted in Nabatean history and hosted by nature. Realising AlUla’s potential to become a premier visitor destination will be additionally made possible through fostering an experience-driven economy, with the local community driving this sector through its cultural roots. As a cornerstone of Vision 2030, RCU will contribute SAR 120bn in growth to the Kingdom’s GDP by 2035 through these projects, much of which will be injected in the local AlUla economy. To help achieve this vision, the Royal Commission is engaging the local community heavily in these projects through the Hammayah programme, in which 2,500 residents will train to be advocates for AlUla’s natural and human heritage. The Royal Commission has launched a second round of its successful international scholarship programme, which helps connect qualified applicants with study abroad opportunities in the United States, the United Kingdom or France in fields that relate to the development plans for AlUla. As these initiatives get underway, RCU remains committed to excellence and best-practice, working with universities and specialist institutions throughout the world in all related fields. It continues to mobilize its expert archaeology programme to survey and uncover the layers of history in the region. The first step has been to establish a comprehensive understanding of the cultural heritage of the landscape, using the latest technologies and recording the findings in a bespoke database. This work will contribute to the creation of a Centre of Excellence for global knowledge exchange and research in heritage, archaeology and conservation.