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‘AlUla Moments’ set to feature immersive art experiences, eco-trail run, and more

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Saudi Arabia’s AlUla, one of the oldest cities in the Arabian Peninsula and home to UNESCO world Heritage site Hegra, is set to witness a series of events this weekend under the event umbrella “AlUla Moments.”

“AlUla Moments is the festival that we have in AlUla for this season, it started with Winter at Tantora which ends this weekend, we have the performance by Alicia Keys, and then Desert Polo and the opening of the Desert X art exhibit in the desert and the market exhibit in Maraya called ‘What Lies Within,’” Chief Destination Management and marketing Officer of the Royal Commission of AlUla Phillip Jones said in an interview with Al Arabiya English.

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The inaugural festival dedicated to arts, AlUla Arts, will take place on February 11, the official Saudi Press agency reported on Wednesday, with the public opening of Desert X AlUla 2022 and ‘What Lies Within’ as well as a special one-night performance by international superstar Alicia Keys.

Four new distinct festivals will be introduced this year, including Winter at Tantora, offering an exciting mix of music, cultural and equestrian events and the second edition of the Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo, set to take place on February 11 and 12.

“It’s the first of our four festivals taking place this season. There was Winter at Tantora, AlUla Arts, AlUla Skies and AlUla Wellness [which will take place] at the end of March so it’s a big season with major productions and lots of major activations and some global artists who will be performing at Maraya, the largest mirrored building in the world,” Jones added.

Desert X AlUla

Taking place from Feb 11 to March 31, this year’s Desert X AlUla is set to feature contemporary artworks by 15 Saudi and international artists against the backdrop of AlUla’s extraordinary desert landscape.

Desert X AlUla. (The Royal Commission of AlUla)
Desert X AlUla. (The Royal Commission of AlUla)

“This year we have 15 pieces of work that will be showcased under the theme of ‘Mirage.’ These will include a desert waterfall and amazing artefacts that will be recreated from an artistic perspective,” Jones explained.

“Desert X AlUla is a partnership with Desert X in Palm Springs [in the US], they rotate each year by holding the event at AlUla one year and one year in Palm Springs,” Jones explained.

The exhibition explores ideas of mirage and oasis, both intrinsic to desert culture and history.

Location of Desert X AlUla in Saudi Arabia. (The Royal Commission of AlUla)
Location of Desert X AlUla in Saudi Arabia. (The Royal Commission of AlUla)

The artists who have been invited to showcase their work at the exhibit addressed dreams, fiction, illusion and myth in their artwork.

“It’s truly going to be a stunning exhibit and one that I highly recommend people visit,” Jones added.

Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo

Richard Mille Desert Polo Tournament at AlUla. (The Royal Commission of AlUla)
Richard Mille Desert Polo Tournament at AlUla. (The Royal Commission of AlUla)

A weekend-long Polo Tournament in the desert, Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo, will feature four teams, welcoming Adolfo Cambiaso and La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team.

The unique event, set to take place on February 11 and 12, has already been sold out.

‘What Lies within’

'What Lies Within' immersive art exhibition at AlUla in Saudi Arabia. (The Royal Commission of AlUla)
'What Lies Within' immersive art exhibition at AlUla in Saudi Arabia. (The Royal Commission of AlUla)

An art exhibition that will be displayed at the award-winning Maraya venue from February 11 to March 20, will bring together artwork by Saudi artists based in Saudi Arabia and abroad from the past 20 years.

Saudi patron and art collector Basma al-Sulaiman will share her artwork collection by 17 different artists, curated by artist Lulwah al-Homoud.

'What Lies Within' art exhibition at AlUla in Saudi Arabia. (The Royal Commission of AlUla)
'What Lies Within' art exhibition at AlUla in Saudi Arabia. (The Royal Commission of AlUla)

The artwork will showcase Saudi cultural heritage, reflecting the Kingdom’s public response to art and will feature pieces on paper, paintings, photography, sculptures and art installations.

Eco-trail AlUla 2022

Ecotrail Run at AlUla in Saudi Arabia. (The Royal Commission of AlUla)
Ecotrail Run at AlUla in Saudi Arabia. (The Royal Commission of AlUla)

The weekend-long event will take place on March 18 and 19 and will include international athletes, running enthusiasts and children.

Including an ultra-marathon, a marathon, a half-marathon and a kids race, the run caters to all skill levels.

Ecotrail Run at AlUla in Saudi Arabia. (The Royal Commission of AlUla)
Ecotrail Run at AlUla in Saudi Arabia. (The Royal Commission of AlUla)

“I am very much looking forward to the eco-trail run, which is one of the runs that will take place. [We will hold] a 25k, 50k, and 80k run, with a stunning backdrop and some enchanting rock formations that look like elephants and dancing princesses and a variety of other amazing art rock formations through the desert. I think [this] will be very popular among our international visitors,” Jones told Al Arabiya English.

AlJadidah

Launched at the beginning of February and is set to stay open until March 31, AlJadidah features the world’s largest hand-painted carpet lines lining the roads for visitors and is a vibrant hub for art, performance, dining as well as cultural and retail experiences.

AlJadidah at Saudi Arabia's AlUla. (The Royal Commission of AlUla)
AlJadidah at Saudi Arabia's AlUla. (The Royal Commission of AlUla)

Centrally located, AlJadidah sits beautifully on the edge of the AlUla Oasis and overlooks AlUla Old Town.

The Path of Poets, Garden of Moments and more

The Path of Poets at AlUla. (The Royal Commission of AlUla)
The Path of Poets at AlUla. (The Royal Commission of AlUla)

Launched on Thursday, the ‘Path of Poets’ immersive live show will feature poet Jamil bin Muammar alongside other characters, showcasing a recreation of the story Buthaina.

The event will stand until March 30, operating on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays with 45-minute shows at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. each day at Oasis in AlUla.

Garden of Moments will take place from February 20 to March 31 in AlUla’s Cultural Oasis District, featuring an interactive sensory experience.

Some other events will be launched later on in the festival, but the details have not be released yet, these events include a hot air balloon experience, a musical performance entitled ‘Symphony Under the Stars’, as well as yoga, meditation and mindfulness event ‘Five Sense Sanctuary.’

New flight routes launched

New flight routes have been launched for people who are interested in visiting AlUla, Jones confirmed to Al Arabiya English.

“We have just launched a flight on FlyNas that is twice a week from Dubai to AlUla and on March 2 we’ll be launching flights from FlyDubai to AlUla so getting to AlUla from Dubai has gotten much easier with direct, point-to-point flights in less than 3 hours to AlUla so it’s an easy way to get to the destination,” he explained.

Dubai’s budget airline flydubai will begin to operate flights to AlUla in Saudi Arabia, becoming the first airline in the United Arab Emirates to add the destination to its network, a statement released by the airline on Friday revealed.

The airline will start operating flights to AlUla via Prince Majeed bin Abdulaziz Airport (ULH) on March 2 (on Wednesdays and Saturdays) and is set to operate from Terminal 2 at Dubai International Airport (DXB).

AlUla opened to travelers from across the world for the very first time in 2020. Visitors can now explore the historic remains and landmarks and learn more about the country’s rich cultural heritage.

In AlUla, visitors will have access to a museum of preserved Nabataean tombs of Hegra, historical monuments and dwellings – both natural and man-made – and sandstone outcrops, representing around 200,000 years of largely unexplored human history, the statement read.

The first international flight arrived in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla on November 18, opening a new path for travelers to visit what is being billed as the largest living museum in the world.

The Saudi low-cost carrier Flynas, which took off from the United Arab Emirates’ Dubai International Airport, was welcomed by a water canon salute in the presence of representatives from the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) at around 3 p.m. local time.

“We’ve also opened two new hotels, Habitat and at the end of March, Banyan Tree, which are two new luxury properties that will be open that will make it, I think, very exciting for visitors from Dubai and the surrounding region to experience one of the most amazing destinations in the Middle East. We invite everyone to go experiencealula.com to learn more.”

Read more:

Saudi Arabia: 4,500 year-old ‘funerary avenues,’ burial monuments discovered in AlUla

First international flight arrives in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla from UAE

Flydubai adds Saudi Arabia’s AlUla to its network, resumes flights to Yanbu

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