Jason Atherton may have bagged numerous Michelin stars for his restaurants across the world, but his latest venture might be his most impressive yet.
On Wednesday, the British chef's newest venue, Maraya Social, will open its doors on the rooftop of Maraya Concert Hall, the mirrored architectural wonder in Saudi Arabia's Al Ula, which is home to the kingdom's first Unesco World Heritage Site.
It will be the area's first fine dining restaurant, featuring indoor and outdoor seating, an open-plan design and great views over the Ashar Valley. It will be open four nights a week, from Wednesday to Saturday, 7pm to midnight.
The cuisine takes inspiration from Al Ula, with produce sourced from local farms, all with that signature Atherton twist that combines European cooking techniques with a modern outlook.
Atherton said he "jumped at the chance to be part of the exciting progress in the kingdom".
“The beauty of the Ashar Valley, the native produce and the iconic Maraya architecture are all the ingredients we need for what is sure to be a sought-after destination dining experience.”
Phillip Jones, chief destination marketing officer for the Royal Commission for Al Ula, said: “Maraya Social is set to be a destination restaurant for the Middle East and the world. We are delighted for Al Ula to be the home of chef’s first restaurant in Saudi Arabia. Al Ula presents a unique opportunity both in terms of the historical setting as well as the untapped pantry of produce and flavours.”
The stunning 500-seater concert hall – the world’s largest mirrored structure – has been the site of numerous events, including in March 2020, when it hosted Lionel Richie and a Persian Nights trio for Winter at Tantora. Earlier this year, it hosted the 41st Gulf Co-operation Council Summit.
On Friday, it will also play host to a concert by renowned Lebanese singer Hiba Tawaji, the first musical performance there since the pandemic began.