Maraya: A world-class mirrored concert hall in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla Valley

A view of the AlUlla mountains reflected by the glass-walled Maraya Concert Hall unveiled as part of the Winter at Tantora festival. (Supplied)
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Updated 31 December 2019

Maraya: A world-class mirrored concert hall in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla Valley

  • The 500-seat capacity venue is hosting global talent who are showcasing their skills during the cultural event

ALULA: The newly constructed Maraya Concert Hall in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, has been showcased as part of the Winter at Tantora festival.  

Maraya, which means reflection or mirror in Arabic, is built close to Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO world heritage site Al-Hijra.

The architecture of the mirrored hall captures the attention of visitors and adds to the mystery of AlUla Valley. The hall is surrounded by mountains, combining modernism and antiquity.

The 500-seat capacity venue is hosting global talent who are showcasing their skills during the cultural event. Last week, Arab music maestro Omar Khairat wowed the audience and more treats are in store throughout the festival.

It was built by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) to become an architectural extension of the environment that surrounds it at its site in Ashar, situated in the volcanic foothills of Harrat ‘Uwayrid.

“AlUla is a place of heritage for the world and this is our 21st century realization of our vision to create a cultural hub, with Maraya as a stunning centerpiece venue for world-class events, performances, celebrations and business gatherings,” RCU CEO Amr Al-Madani told Arab News. 

“Maraya is a medium that intertwines nature, culture and humanity. We are proud to celebrate the opening and we thank the expert team of architects, construction specialists and partners who give rise to this incredible building from a stunning desert setting.”

Architect Florian Boje said Maraya made people reflect on the “incomparable spectacle” of the geological epic and the “unique incursions” of man in the landscape. 

“The reflection becomes an immersive connector and balance, giving to us the burden and responsibility of our own image merged with the landscape,” he added.

Maraya is part of the RCU vision set out in its cultural manifesto, an open invitation to the global arts and business communities to join it in building a new chapter for AlUla. 

“AlUla’s art mandate is bold,” says the manifesto. “It will continue to be a destination reflected, carved and inspired by artists, and a place for era-defining monumental works. Successive civilizations have infused the landscape with their material culture and ideas. AlUla will be considered an arts destination that continues to be built by artists, breathing imagination, inspiration, and expression into AlUla’s infrastructure, buildings, daily life and visitor experiences.”

The rebirth of AlUla
Hegra, ancient city of the Nabataeans in Saudi Arabia’s historic AlUla Valley, is emerging from the mists of time to take its rightful place as one of the wonders of the world

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Saudi Arabia calls ‘urgent’ meeting of oil producers

Updated 03 April 2020

Saudi Arabia calls ‘urgent’ meeting of oil producers

  • Crude prices jump after move, which Kingdom says is part of efforts ‘to support global economy in these exceptional circumstances’

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia has called an urgent meeting of the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries and other oil exporters, to discuss restoring the “desired balance” in global energy markets.

The move — which prompted a big jump in the price of oil on global markets — is part of the Kingdom’s “constant efforts to support the global economy in these exceptional circumstances, and in appreciation of the request of the President of the USA, Donald Trump, and the request of friends in the USA,” according to a statement published by the official Saudi news agency.

Global oil prices reacted immediately. Brent crude, the Middle East benchmark, increased by 20 percent, taking it back above $30 a barrel.

The price of crude has been under pressure as a result of collapsing demand due to the coronavirus crisis, and Saudi Arabia’s determination to win market share from American and Russian producers.

During an OPEC meeting in Vienna last month, the Kingdom offered to implement further cuts in oil production but Russia refused to participate.

“Saudi Arabia would like to underscore its efforts during the past period to restore balance in the oil market, as it drew support for that from 22 counties of the OPEC+, but it was not possible to reach an agreement or get consensus,” according to the official Saudi statement.

Oil industry expert Daniel Yergin said: “This represents a recognition of how much the world has changed for oil in a single month as demand falls away so dramatically, and the impact of Donald Trump becoming personally engaged.”

The Saudi call for talks came after a hectic round of communications between the US, Russia and the Kingdom.

In a message posted on Twitter after the Saudi announcement, Trump wrote: “I just spoke to my friend Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia, who spoke with President Putin and I expect and hope that they will be cutting back approximately 10m barrels, and maybe substantially more, which will be great for the oil and gas industry.”

However, officials in Riyadh downplayed any suggestion of a commitment to specific reductions in the levels of oil output. There is no indication yet of when the “urgent” meeting of OPEC and others might happen, nor what will be on the agenda, they said.

President Vladimir Putin denied that he had spoken to the crown prince about the price of oil. Novosti, the official Russian news agency, said there was no such conversation, but added that the president had discussed falling oil prices with other OPEC members and with the US.

“The Americans are worried because of their profitability for shale oil production,” said Putin. “This is also a difficult test for the American economy.”

This week, Saudi Arabia produced more oil in a single day than at any time in its history, with 12 million barrels flowing from pumps at Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company.