With the national government’s much-needed boost given to its tourism sector, Saudi Arabia is looking to overtake its counterparts in the region in terms of being the best tourist destination in the Middle East.
And there is much to look forward to if you’re a fan of the country as new attractions and festivals are now being supported by the government, but there is still a lot to discover if you decide to take the off-beaten track as part of your vacation in the Kingdom. In this post, we will turn our navigator eyes on the lovely city of Al Ula in the region of Medina to discover some of the most beautiful places and destinations the city has to offer.
5 Must-See Locations in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia can easily become the best touristic destination in the region because of the simple fact that it is the birthplace of one of the most prominent religions in the world today.
But other than that, the Kingdom boasts of many splendors in terms of architecture, history, food, and culture. And there’s no better place to start than having a visit to the city of Al Ula in Medina, which is considered a hidden gem enjoyed by many globetrotters from various parts of the globe. Here are our top 5 picks for the best places to see in Al Ula:
- Mada’in Saleh
The nation’s history even before it officially became the ‘Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’ in 1930 dates back to as early as 20,000 years ago. And don’t get us started, because even before the country was known for Islam, various pieces of archaeological evidence can prove that the country has been a thriving area in early civilization brought about by the migration of various peoples and tribes in the region.
One of the most beautiful places to visit in Al Ula is the Mada’in Saleh where guests can get a glimpse of pre-Islamic Arabia dating back to the Nabataean civilization. The ruined city is also best known as Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, just like Jordan’s Petra but without the crowds. Needless to say, this place is simply one of the most inspiring places to be if you’re a fan of history and the sciences, as not only do you get to marvel at the ancient architecture of the people, but you also get to see life through the eyes of the mysterious people who have lived in the Kingdom thousands of years ago.
Tip: If you’re planning to visit this place, consider going in the winter because the weather will be so much more beautiful in the area during this time.
- Elephant Rock
After visiting Mada’in Saleh, the next best spot to visit (or stay the night) for free is the Elephant Rock. The place is well-loved for its spectacular views and magnificent natural sculptures. This is definitely worth a spot on your Instagram timeline because the rock is so huge that people look like tiny creatures standing with it.
Tip: Consider visiting this place early in the morning or at sundown to see the warm shifts in tone of the sand and rock colors. You can also spend the night having a barbecue in the area, but wear appropriate clothing as it could get pretty cold at night.
- Al Deerah, Heritage Village
If you’re in Medina, be sure to check out the Al Deera Heritage Village, which will also give you an idea as to what life was like in pre-Islamic Arabia. The place, as you can see in the pictures, looks very old, and needs some restoration work, but much of what it has gone through can still be seen in the area and can give you a better understanding of the people’s way of life back during the early times.
Tip: If you’re in for a bit of a thrill, you can check out this place a bit earlier before sunset as the rustic feels of the place can definitely send you some (good) chills, plus you can definitely get some amazing shots in the area if you’re also into photography.
- Hijaz Railway Museum
Much of what is left of ancient Arabia is now in ruins, but as long as they’re still there. We cannot deny the fact that at some point in history, these things existed and served an important purpose to the people.
Such is the case of the Hijaz Railway in Al Ula, which was created to connect the capital city of Ottoman, Damascus, to the holy cities of Medina and Mecca. However, history tells us that construction of the railway was not meant to be as various attacks had occurred in this site concerning the faith, as well as its untimely introduction to conflict during World War I.
But the railway station still stands to this day, though no longer operational, important fragments of the past can still be seen in the area which visitors will find fascinating if not interesting, at the very least.
- Al Ula Museum
By now, you may know that Al Ula plays an important role in Saudi Arabia’s rich and vast history. The great thing to note, too, is that the city houses its own museum which documents its history from the Stone Age, through the Pre-Islamic Era and the Islamic Age, up until the Kingdom’s unification. This can be appreciated through the city’s numerous curations of rare antiquities, manuscripts, maps, and models of Madain Saleh’s monuments.
Video: Update on Saudi Arabia’s Efforts to Restore Al Ula and to Make it an International Heritage Tourist Site, as shared by AlMonitor/YouTube:
There are a lot of things to know and learn about a country, and it’s great that Saudi Arabia is still one of those places where you can find existing pieces of their culture and history even in the modern age.
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