Saudi Arabia's AlUla to be developed into world’s largest living museum

Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans to develop AlUla into the world’s largest living museum and a major heritage, cultural, arts and adventure tourism destination. (File/AFP)
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Updated 17 February 2020

Saudi Arabia's AlUla to be developed into world’s largest living museum

  • Kingdom wants 2m visitors to county by 2035
  • The development plans were announced during the 10th UN World Urban Forum in Abu Dhab

ABU DHABI: Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans to develop AlUla into the world’s largest living museum and a major heritage, cultural, arts and adventure tourism destination.
AlUla is known for its natural beauty and archaeological diversity. It has hosted major cultural events, including a site-responsive outdoor art installation featuring the work of Saudi and international artists.
The development plans were announced during the 10th UN World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi.
“The balanced development strategy places people first as part of a broader commitment to become an open living museum for the world and a global center for culture, heritage, arts and eco-tourism projects,” the CEO of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), Amr Al-Madani, said. “We chose the World Urban Forum as a credible global platform to engage with the world’s leading developers and sustainability experts and share our plans for the long-term, responsible development of AlUla as the world’s largest living museum. By combining heritage with nature, we are transforming the cultural landscape of AlUla and establishing the county as a global tourism destination with a thriving economy and local community.”
Saudi Arabia aims to host two million visitors a year in AlUla by 2035. The RCU, the authority responsible for protecting and promoting the area, estimates the project will create more than 67,000 new jobs, almost half of them in the tourism sector.
“We invite experts from around the world to join us on our journey which means we learn and innovate together. We see a clear road ahead as we attract investment and continue to protect, preserve, share and celebrate our heritage and nature with the world. Not only have we opened our doors to travelers benefiting from Saudi Arabia’s new tourist visas, we’ve also delivered the infrastructure that is central to growth,” Al-Madani added.
He said that a new airport had been launched and that it had the potential to become a transport and logistics hub for northwest Saudi Arabia. There was also a distinctive concert hall with a 500-seat capacity, he added.
The RCU’s Francesca Arici, who is responsible for coordinating development of the masterplans, briefed organizations and agencies at the forum about the commission’s future strategy.
“This is a unique and once-in-a-lifetime development program that requires drawing together international best practice in numerous and diverse fields and sectors,” she said. “We must balance light-touch tourism with sensitive development designed to benefit the local community while still protecting rare ecosystems and archaeology. We are moving at pace but ensuring we embrace the needs and demands of the local community as we work together for a common goal.  A number of major infrastructure plans have already been realized and it is anticipated that we will introduce new building permits and design guidelines to AlUla in March, boosting local economic growth and prosperity.”
Around 80 percent of AlUla county will be protected, including cultural and natural heritage sites.


King Salman meets Mauritanian president

Updated 27 February 2020

King Salman meets Mauritanian president

RIYADH: King Salman received Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani in Riyadh on Wednesday.

They discussed ways to develop and strengthen bilateral relations, especially in the economic and investment fields, as well as the latest regional developments. Later, the king hosted a luncheon in honor of the president and his accompanying delegation.

The king and Ghazouani also witnessed the signing ceremony of four agreements and memoranda of understanding between the two countries. They include cultural cooperation, civil service, and vocational and technical training.

On the Saudi side, the ceremony was attended by State Minister Prince Mansour bin Miteb bin Abdul Aziz, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan, among other officials. Mauritanian officials also attended.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Mauritania in December 2018, bolstering relations and renewing support for the country’s development efforts.

He expressed his “great satisfaction at the depth of the fraternal relations between the two brotherly peoples.”

Also on Wednesday, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune arrived in Riyadh. At King Khalid International Airport, he was received by Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar and a number of officials.

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