AlUla (RAHNUMA) From 11 th – 27 th November, for the first time ever, the three linked ancient oases of North West Arabia will offer immersive experiences set in historic and natural landscapes as part of
the Ancient Kingdoms Festival.
Named after the legendary ancient kingdoms of AlUla, the Festival will connect AlUla with the historical areas of Khaybar and Tayma – unlocking exciting and immersive experiences that bring to life stories that span millennia, reaching across successive civilisations and interconnecting the great cultures of ancient history.
As open-air galleries of discovery, the epic scale of the triad of AlUla, Tayma and Khaybar will be uncovered through tailor-made experiences and excursions that highlight the unique character of each site and unlock the layers of history within. From spectacular after-dark light shows and carriage rides at dawn, to hot air balloon and helicopter flights over monumental prehistoric architecture; culinary pop-ups, historical re-enactments and guided trails through legendary oases,the Festival is set to create moments that last forever.
Together, AlUla, Khaybar and Tayma have shaped the history of the region and its connection to the world for thousands of years. While AlUla has been welcoming visitors to its ancient sites, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hegra since it reopened in 2020, the Festival will also open up and activate the globally significant historic areas of Tayma and Khaybar.
Tayma, famous for its powerful position on the legendary Incense Road, is today an archaeological treasure trove with discoveries continuing to reveal the legacy of kings and the ambition of successive civilisations, including the largest well in the Arabian Peninsula.
Khaybar is famous as a market town and for the surrounding geology of the white and black volcanos as well as the mysterious prehistoric stone structures in the shape of kites, keyholes and rectangles – best seen by air. The sites will continue to be activated for excursions from AlUla.
Hegra – Once a vibrant city of the Nabataeans and a vital hub on the legendary Incense Road, Hegra is one of the must-visit sites on a global map of heritage landmarks today. One of the star sites of Arabia, this UNESCO World Heritage site will offer an unforgettable encounter of the legacies of the Nabataeans.
Introducing Hinat: Nabatean Facial Reconstruction (26th October – permanent) – presented at Hegra Welcome Centre, this feat of archaeology and technology brings us one step closer to understanding the world of ancients of Hegra, through a forensic, digital reconstruction of a Nabatean woman experts fondly call ‘Hinat’.
Hegra by Horse-Carriage: (1st November 2022 – 21st March 2023) – an experience of Hegra during the golden hours of dawn and dusk will be elevated by journeying in a horse drawn carriage, in the company of a Rawi storyteller. The leisurely journey willcover three key sites.
Hegra After Dark (3rd – 27th November) – the return of the unforgettable after-dark tours to Tomb 100 by candlelight. Adding to the experience of a sensorium, a sound and light show will bring alive the story of the Nabatean king AlHaritha.
Dadan – With the expert-led excavation season already underway at this capital city of the ancient kingdoms, Dadan offers young explorers to join in as a part of the ‘Apprentice Archaeologist’ programme designed to inspire curiosity and a sense of connection among a future generation of heritage guardians. With the family-friendly Archaeology Tours of Dadan, visitors will get a rare chance to interact with the archaeologists who are making discoveries in real-time. This is a chance to watch history in the making.
Jabal Ikmah – Journey through Jabal Ikmah After Dark, along candle-lit pathways that illuminate the remnants of ancient civilisations and their religious rituals recorded onto the rock face of the whispering canyon. The site will also offer family-friendly workshops at the Ancient Inscriptions Academy.
At Tayma – A first-glimpse of Tayma (11th November – 31st March) – The Land of Kings, a legendary oasis at the crossroads of civilisations, home to:
The Ancient Temple of Salm – a superb vantage point to what was once a paleolake, and home to the remains of a complex of Iron Age temples.
Bir Haddaj – an iconic well many believe to have been built by the last Babylonian king, Nabonidus and the setting for a fascinating re-enactment of life in the oasis.
Suq AlNajm Oasis – trail and marketplace, an opportunity to experience the living traditions of Tayma.
Qasr Ibn Rumman (Governor's Palace) – an atmospheric example of Arabian architecture, experienced by audio guide experience and hosting an immersive show after dark.
At Khaybar – A first-glimpse of Khaybar (24th November – permanent) – a geological gem offering a unique perspective from the skies. Khaybar is revealed through tethered hot air balloon rides and helicopter excursions to give bird’s eye view of its landscape that is home to:
Khaybar Camp – a unique ‘off the grid’ nature and culinary experience staying in a luxury glamp site in an otherworldly landscape near the Harrat Khaybar volcanic site.
AlRawan – another excellent vantage point interlinking the oases, and the first point of entry to exploring Khaybar. Adventure trails through the Umm Jirsan lava tubes and caves.
Stories From The Skies – an aerial spectacular bringing together drones, narrative and landscape as night falls.
Visitors eager for a first-glimpse of Tayma and Khaybar (Tayma 2 hours, Khaybar 3 hours from AlUla) can do so by self-drive, a hop-on-hop-off bus or luxury/VIP car service moving between the sites or can ‘Ride with a Rawi’: a journey escorted by local Rawi storytellers, who will impart their local knowledge enroute.
Located 1,100 km from Riyadh, in North-West Saudi Arabia, AlUla is a place of extraordinary natural and human heritage. The vast area, covering 22,561km², includes a lush oasis valley, towering sandstone mountains and ancient cultural heritage sites dating back thousands of years to when the Lihyan and Nabataean kingdoms reigned.
The most well-known and recognised site in AlUla is Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. A 52-hectare ancient city, Hegra was the principal southern city of the Nabataean Kingdom and comprises 111 well-preserved tombs, many with elaborate facades cut out of the sandstone outcrops surrounding the walled urban settlement.Current research also suggests Hegra was the most southern outpost of the Roman Empire after the Roman’s conquered the Nabataeans in 106 CE.
In addition to Hegra, AlUla is also home to ancient Dadan, the capital of the Dadan and Lihyan Kingdoms and considered to be one of the most developed 1st millennium BCE cities of the Arabian Peninsula, and Jabal Ikmah, an open air library of hundreds of inscriptions and writings in many different languages. Also AlUla Old Town, a labyrinth of more than 900 mudbrick homes developed from at least the 12th century, and Hijaz Railway and Hegra Fort, key sites in the story and conquests of Lawrence of Arabia.
About AlUla Moments:
AlUla Moments is AlUla’s new home of events. The brand was launched at the end of 2021 and introduced four new festivals to celebrate and unlock AlUla’s stories, uncover its secrets and celebrate local and international cultures. With 7000 years of civilisations and home to some of the most sophisticated ancient Kingdoms of antiquity, AlUla is no stranger to social gathering and cultural celebrations.
The four festivals introduced were Winter at Tantora, which returned to celebrate heritage, culture and music, in addition to the AlUla Skies, AlUla Arts and AlUla Wellness Festival. The festivals offered a selection of experiences in art, culture, music, nature, wellness, equestrian, food and astronomy. All of which were celebrating the culture, history and legacy of AlUla and the civilisations that once called the land of AlUla their home.
In the 2022/2023 season, AlUla Moments presents five major festivals and five distinct events, including the return of Winter at Tantora and AlUla Wellness Festival, the return of Azimuth, and for the first time The Ancient Kingdoms Festival will be introduced, a festival that brings the past into the present with experiences inspired by the significance of three linked ancient oases of AlUla, Khaybar and Tayma on the Arabian Peninsula and the famed incense road trading route that cemented AlUla as the bustling commercial and cultural crossroad.