• Partnership will establish integrated systems of research, training and knowledge transfer with initiatives expanding mutual interests in cultural and heritage conservation while exploring new fields of collaboration 

AlUla, Saudi Arabia: AlUla and Saudi Arabia’s long-standing ties with France, and some of the European nation’s leading institutions, have been further strengthened with the signing of a new far-reaching partnership agreement between Paris-based Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU).

Officially signed on February 21, the agreement heralds a new milestone in AlUla’s comprehensive development and a further deepening of cooperation across sectors including culture, heritage, and education between RCU and leading French organisations. 

As well as establishing new integrated systems of research, training, information sharing and documentation, which will ensure the documentation of AlUla’s 200,000 years of human history in one of the world’s largest archaeological reference libraries, the agreement will also open fresh avenues of development in areas related to scientific study, tourism, archaeology, history, and art to support AlUla’s regeneration and continued growth.

One of France, and Europe’s, most esteemed educational institutions, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne’s partnership with RCU will create new opportunities for capacity building and knowledge transfer while helping to expand AlUla’s growing position as the world’s largest living museum and a global hub for culture and heritage. 

The agreement will also see the establishment of the Jaussen & Savignac Archaeological Research Centre with twin locations in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, and Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, France. The centre will serve as a hub for the unique comprehensive research, publication, and dissemination of scholarly work related to north-west Saudi Arabia. In addition, an endowed Jaussen & Savignac Chair will be established to promote academic excellence and archaeological research in the Kingdom's north-west.

Further, an annual Jaussen & Savignac Chair off-site seminar will take place in France, carving out space for academics, students, and doctoral candidates to engage in in-depth discussions, lectures, and presentations. The event will feature internationally renowned lecturers and Saudi guests, with an emphasis on creating a collaborative environment that encourages interdisciplinary and cross-cultural dialogue.

The agreement also spans a Jaussen & Savignac Chair Master Programme ‎in the fields of Archaeology and Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage, as well as annual training workshops and archaeological field schools situated in AlUla.

A key part of the agreement will see RCU work closely with staff and students from Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, and teams from RCU, as well as students from the AlUla community, who will also have the opportunity to travel to Paris to take part in prestigious training programmes, educational sessions, and expansive cultural experiences.

Abeer AlAkel, RCU Acting CEO, said: “RCU’s newly signed agreement with Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne is another example of the diverse and important partnerships that are greatly contributing to the growth and development of AlUla as a leading destination for culture, tourism, and as a centre for scientific research and learning. Mutually beneficial, it builds on the long history of collaboration between Saudi Arabia, RCU, and leading French cultural and educational institutions as well as innovative businesses.

“This new relationship will see RCU work closely with our colleagues at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne across diverse sectors. Our collaboration with one of the world’s best universities marks a new chapter of interaction and synergy between RCU and our partners– one that will empower our development goals and create new opportunities for our community, including students, to share knowledge with experts in areas including archaeology, cultural and heritage conservation, and more to support AlUla’s continued regeneration.”

Christine Neau-Leduc, President of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University, added: “This 21st February marks a memorable occasion as Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University and the Royal Commission for AlUla have come together to establish a significant partnership. After long negotiations, we are finally gathered here, in this impressive location that is AlUla, to engage our institutions in a fruitful cooperation of research and teaching in the field of archaeology.

The creation of the Jaussen & Savignac Chair will provide indeed a wonderful setting to highlight Saudi Arabia’s rich cultural heritage, to reinforce a shared scientific cooperation, and to make it possible for a better understanding of human history.”


For media enquiries please contact publicrelations@rcu.gov.sa

About the Royal Commission for AlUla

The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) was established by royal decree in July 2017 to preserve and develop AlUla, a region of outstanding natural and cultural significance in north-west Saudi Arabia. RCU’s long-term plan outlines a responsible, sustainable, and sensitive approach to urban and economic development that preserves the area’s natural and historic heritage while establishing AlUla as a desirable location to live, work, and visit. This encompasses a broad range of initiatives across archaeology, tourism, culture, education, and the arts, reflecting a commitment to meeting the economic diversification, local community empowerment, and heritage preservation priorities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 programme.