|13 August, 2019

RCU Governor Prince Badr bin Farhan Al-Saud directs start of substantial development projects in AlUla

AlUla's Prince Abdulmajeed Bin Abdulaziz Airport to be transformed by end of 2019 to meet international standards with increased aircraft parking and multiple structural and design upgrades, improving the travel experience

  • Expansion set to be completed by the end of the year to increase capacity from 100,000 passengers to over 400,000 annually.
  • Maraya Concert Hall structure and experience to be enhanced to strengthen its reputation as a world-class performance facility capable of hosting musical events, international operas and innovative exhibitions in its unique location.
  • Hundreds of trees planted in Wadi Ishaar as the launch of long-term initiative to plant 10,000 trees in AlUla
  • 330 students from AlUla have been selected for the second phase of the RCU Scholarship Programme, doubling number of scholarships from phase one.

AlUla, Saudi Arabia: In accordance with the vision for AlUla of His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Chairman of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), the transformation of AlUla’s Prince Abdulmajeed Bin Abdulaziz Airport and the Maraya Concert Hall has begun under the leadership of Minister of Culture and Governor of RCU Prince Badr bin Farhan Al-Saud and will finish by the end of this year. A long-term tree-planting initiative in AlUla has also been launched in alignment with the vision.

The development projects were visited by the AlUla Coordination Council and the RCU CEO Amr AlMadani to review the progress underway and discuss the positive impacts they will create in the AlUla community, like increased connectivity and economic diversification. 

The airport development project will transform AlUla’s domestic airport into an aviation hub developed in line with international standards that can welcome guests from around the world with an increase in capacity from 100,000 passengers to over 400,000 a year, marking an important step in the RCU’s overall aim to accommodate two million tourists by 2035.

Development of the airport will include the construction of an extended apron area that can accommodate more aircrafts. A new executive lounge will also be constructed, new digital information systems will be added to both the departures and arrivals areas, and further interior and exterior design changes will be made to the terminal buildings using local material from AlUla.

With a new taxiway already planned for completion in quarter one of 2020 to meet the growing demand for efficient and easy access to AlUla, this transformation will ensure the airport can host future international flights and allow direct access from regional and other potential global destinations.

Commenting on the transformation of the AlUla Airport, His Highness Prince Badr said: “Expanding critical infrastructure, such as AlUla’s Prince Abdulmajeed Bin Abdulaziz Airport, in a sensitive and sympathetic way, is a central part of encouraging a diverse and dynamic tourism experience for the county in line with Vision 2030, enabling easier access to enable us to showcase our treasures to the world.

“It will transform the airport facilities from a purely domestic airport to one that in the future has the infrastructure systems in place to welcome international flights. This investment will bring a significant boost to the community by better connecting its economy with the wider region, an important pillar of the RCU Charter. This construction is aligned with other project developments currently under way to make AlUla a truly global destination allowing people to experience this yet to be discovered masterpiece.”

The structural improvements and renovations to be made to the Maraya Concert Hall, the venue for the Winter at Tantora season, will result in a larger, permanent facility, seating over 500 people, based around a more refined design. The acoustics are being upgraded to operatic performance quality, a 500-seat restaurant is being created, along with an art exhibition space and a new rooftop terrace feature.

The mirrored walls of the structure, designed to form an extension of the environment by reflecting abstract views of the surrounding golden sands and mountains, will remain as an integral part of the Concert Hall’s design, which is the basis for its name as Maraya means mirror in Arabic.

Commenting on the Maraya Concert Hall changes, His Highness Prince Badr said: “The Maraya Concert Hall has already proven its credentials as a world-class venue during the first Winter at Tantora season. The enhancements taking place this year will cement this reputation still further, truly establishing it as a dynamic venue of choice for leading artists and performers nestled amongst an extraordinary natural backdrop.”

The day-long meeting with the AlUla Coordination Council also saw the commencement of a long-term initiative from His Highness to plant 10,000 trees in AlUla developed according to a sensitively designed landscaping plan, in line with the future masterplan, by the end of 2020. A wide range of community members volunteered in the inaugural planting of hundreds of trees in AlUla’s Wadi Ishaar, including students and young professionals already participating in several of the RCU’s economic and social development programmes, as well as the RCU employees and community leaders from AlUla.

Members of the AlUla Coordination Council were also updated on the progress and impact of several of the RCU’s innovative and ongoing programmes like the Scholarship Programme, which just announced the students from AlUla selected for the 330 scholarships available in the programme’s second phase, doubling the scholarships from phase one. This fall, these young people from AlUla will study in Australia, France, UK and US following the success of programme’s first year, which saw 166 students begin their studies in fields directly connected to the future of AlUla.

The AlUla Coordination Council was established by His Highness to create a body of AlUla’s leaders that can work together with the RCU to engage and ensure the community is closely involved in ongoing work and activities. This meeting further delivered on this commitment to work together with the people of AlUla to build the county’s future. 

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For any media enquiries please contact the RCU Public Relations team at: PublicRelations@rcu.gov.sa 

About AlUla
Located 1,100 km from Riyadh, in North-West Saudi Arabia, AlUla is a place of extraordinary natural and human heritage. The vast area, covering 22,561km², includes a lush oasis valley, towering sandstone mountains and ancient cultural heritage sites dating back thousands of years to when the Lihyan and Nabataean kingdoms reigned.

The most well-known and recognised site in AlUla is Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. A 52-hectare ancient city, Hegra was the principal southern city of the Nabataean Kingdom and is comprised of more than 100 well preserved tombs with elaborate facades cut out of the sandstone outcrops surrounding the walled urban settlement.

Current research suggests Hegra was the most southern outpost of the Roman Empire after conquering the Nabataeans in 106 CE.

In addition to Hegra, AlUla is home to a series of fascinating historical and archaeological sites such as: Ancient Dadan, the capital of the Dadan and Lihyan Kingdoms, which is considered one of the most developed 1st-millennium BCE cities of the Arabian Peninsula; thousands of ancient rock art sites and inscriptions; and Hijaz Railway stations.

About The Royal Commission for AlUla
The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) was established by royal decree in July 2017 to protect and safeguard AlUla, a region of outstanding natural and cultural significance in North-West Saudi Arabia. RCU is embarking on a long-term plan to develop and deliver a sensitive, sustainable transformation of the region, reaffirming it as one of the country's most important archaeological and cultural destinations and preparing it to welcome visitors from around the world. RCU’s development work in AlUla encompasses a broad range of initiatives across archaeology, tourism, culture, education and the arts, reflecting the ambitious commitment to cultivate tourism and leisure in Saudi Arabia, outlined in Vision 2030.

© Press Release 2019

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