February 10, 2022 is the primary Arabian Leopard Day and it’s considered one of a number of initiatives to assist save this critically endangered species from extinction. Central to the efforts is the work of the Royal Fee for AlUla — AlUla is the northwestern space of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that’s making waves as a brand new eco and archeological international tourism destination.
There are solely an estimated 200 Arabian leopards remaining within the wild. They’re the rarest and smallest of the world’s eight leopard species and are considered discovered solely in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen.
The Royal Fee for AlUla’s efforts to guard the critically endangered species embrace the creation of the Arabian Leopard Fund, partnerships with group just like the Worldwide Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), establishing and increasing nature reserves, offering park ranger coaching to AlUla residents, and making a breeding heart within the Sharaan Nature Reserve. The objective is to ultimately rewild Arabian leopards by reintroducing the cats again into the AlUla mountains.
You possibly can study extra about Arabian leopards and their habitat with a go to to AlUla. For those who’re intrigued by the fourth century BCE ruins at Petra, Jordan, you’ll need to add the ruins at AlUla to your must-visit record.
The traditional ruins of AlUla
Like Petra, AlUla was as soon as a flourishing Nabataean civilization and each websites are acknowledged by UNESCO. AlUla has been residence to settlements for 7,000 years and the Nabataean, Dadanite and Lihyanite individuals all constructed cities right here. AlUla was an necessary buying and selling crossroads alongside the Silk Highway, the Incense Route and the path to Makkah. Beneath varied names, it’s talked about within the Bible, Torah and Qur’an.
The panorama is characterised by steep sandstone mountains, dramatic rock formations (together with one that appears like an enormous elephant), orange-red sand dunes, oases with date palms and stretches of wildflowers.
Hegra is the positioning of elaborate Nabataean archeological ruins and was Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Web site. Inside an oasis valley amongst dramatic rock formations, Hegra has greater than 100 monumental tombs with intricate facades carved with designs and figures of animals and people.
Insights into the area’s historic peoples and their societies will be seen by the water administration techniques and still-working wells, artwork and instruments, and even historical graffiti in languages like Aramaic and Latin. For instance, Jamal Ikmah is a valley with greater than 500 rocks with inscriptions in a dozen languages in addition to historical drawings of chariots, musical devices and animals like camels and ibex. It’s been referred to as an “open air library”.
An abundance of AlUla actions
Worldwide tourism to the vacation spot is being managed rigorously, considering the desert setting’s fragility and involving native residents in its growth. AlUla gives an intriguing mixture of historical, conventional and pure websites mixed with trendy eating places and lodges — even a live performance corridor inside the largest mirrored constructing on the earth.
There’s loads of methods to see AlUla’s pictographs, tombs and the areas’ photogenic dunes and rock formations from each floor stage and excessive within the air. Select from guided walks and hikes, biking within the sand dunes, ziplining within the mountains, horseback using, sizzling air ballooning plus excursions in classic plane.
To know the world extra in depth, you would tour Previous City AlUla (together with visiting women-owned outlets) with one of many Kingdom’s first feminine Rawi or Arabic storytellers. Or why not spend a night stargazing within the desert at a Bedouin camp and study concerning the constellations from an Arab perspective. AlUla additionally hosts a wide range of events and festivals together with poetry, conventional and trendy artwork, a symphony live performance underneath the celebrities, and trendy concert events (Seal is taking part in February 17, 2022, for instance).
On the Sharaan Nature Reserve, you’ll be able to see wildlife like Idmi gazelles, Nubian ibex, red-necked ostrich, Arabian wolves, large-eared purple foxes, long-legged Cape hares and rock hyraxes. And, maybe quickly, the Arabian leopard.
The place to remain and dine in AlUla
There’s an growing variety of lodges to select from in AlUla, with extra on the way in which. Opened in November 2021 is Habitas AlUla, a sustainably constructed luxurious resort in a spectacular sandstone canyon location. Banyan Tree AlUla plans a luxurious resort with pool villas for late 2022. 5-star Aman ought to have three AlUla lodges opening in 2023, together with a tented camp and a property underneath its new more-affordable Janu model.
High AlUla eating choices embrace Maraya Social by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton — the rooftop restaurant is atop the Maraya live performance corridor and world’s largest mirrored constructing. Conventional Saudi dishes with a contemporary aptitude will be discovered at Suhail Old Town, however you may also discover pizza, burgers, French pastries and extra.
Visas and logistics for visiting AlUla and Saudi Arabia
Vacationer visas to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can be found for residents of dozens of nations, with particulars on the Experience AlUla and Visit Saudi web sites. Visas on arrival are suspended through the Covid pandemic and newly issued vacationer visas embrace Covid insurance coverage. Absolutely vaccinated vacationers don’t have to quarantine if they’ve a unfavourable PCR take a look at taken inside 72 hours of departure.
As this space is just lately open to worldwide tourism, unbiased journey is feasible however reserving by an AlUla travel partner is useful. Although a year-round vacation spot, Saudi Arabia’s climate is cooler between October and March. Flights to AlUla can be found from Dubai, Riyadh, Kuwait Metropolis, and different regional facilities.