Saudi Arabian airline Flynas completed its inaugural flight from Riyadh to Al Ula on Wednesday.
The airline will operate two weekly flights between the two destinations, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, on a A320neo aircraft, a new addition to the carrier’s fleet.
Passengers can book their flights through the airline’s website, app and call centre, or via travel agents.
“Flynas has been keen on offering the best service for travellers interested in visiting this unique historical city, in accordance with the airline’s overarching strategy that aims to take travel in the kingdom to the next level, in both services and cost,” said Bander Almohanna, chief executive of flynas. "This serves to transform the kingdom to an international touristic destination, in alignment with Saudi Vision 2030."
As part of efforts to make Al Ula more accessible to travellers from around the world, earlier this month, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation granted permission for international flights to land at Al Ula’s Prince Abdul Majeed bin Abdulaziz Airport.
The airport's capacity has been expanded from 100,000 to 400,000 passengers per year, according to the Saudi Press Agency. At 2.4 million square metres, the facility is also one of the biggest airports in the kingdom, and can accommodate up to 15 commercial aircraft at one time.
Phillip Jones, chief destination management and marketing officer at the Royal Commission for Al Ula, said: "With the recent renaming of Al Ula International Airport, we are preparing to open up to international tourism and cement Al Ula's position as a globally significant Unesco destination, but with a modern and future-focused take on tourism. We are working on connecting the culture of the past with the possibilities of future, to present a world-class boutique destination to the world.
“We welcome flynas to Al Ula and look forward to more domestic flights with flynas from other destinations in the kingdom. Al Ula is a place like no other in the world and we encourage residents of the kingdom to experience their unique culture and heritage now while they have the destination to themselves.”
Located about 1,100 kilometres from Riyadh, Al Ula is home to Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first Unesco World Heritage Site and the main southern city of the Nabataean Kingdom.
Al Ula Old Town also reopened to visitors this month, for the first time in three years. Dating back to the 12th century, the heritage site is best known for its mud-brick buildings and for being an age-old settlement on the pilgrimage route from Damascus to Makkah.
Click the gallery below to see more photos from Al Ula Old Town:
Uninhabited for more than 40 years, the town was closed completely in 2017 by the Royal Commission. With nearly 900 houses, 400 shops and five town squares, it has now reopened as a year-round tourism site, with restored streets, buildings and attractions. Al Ula Old Town was inhabited from the 12th century until the 1980s, when its last residents left the ancient village for more modern locales.
Those taking a trip to the ancient Saudi village can pay a visit to the Masjid Al-Izam, the restored Friday mosque believed to have been visited by the Prophet Mohammed.
The incense route, running adjacent to the town, has also reopened. Visitors can stroll along it, stopping at the stalls that now line it. These include fruit and produce stalls, as well as arts and crafts, fashion and souvenir market spaces.
"We are already receiving a lot of interest from international travellers excited to explore a new destination with such history, including ancient civilisations from the Dadanites to the Nabataeans and the Romans," said Melanie de Souza, executive director marketing at the Royal Commission for Al Ula.