Hegra After Dark: what is AlUla's new tourist experience and what's coming up?

The unique activity is inspired by the Nabatean civilisation

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In celebration of AlUla Season, Saudi Arabia is hosting a variety of entertainment and immersive events for tourists up until March. This includes, for the first time, a unique experience by the Royal Commission for AlUla called Hegra After Dark, which is being held at night over the weekends until December 4.

The three-and-a-half-hour-long event aims to give tourists a sensory experience, encompassing taste and sight, and exploring the cosmology and astronomy of the Nabatean civilisation.

It is set in Jabal al-Khuraymat, one of the four necropolis areas to have survived, and starts off with Awaken the Senses and Enjoy the Silence. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of silence underneath the dark sky blanketed with stars as 1,750 candles light up the entrance of Tomb 100, one of the most beautiful in Hegra. The design of the seating areas is inspired by the Nabateans and engulfed in the aroma of incense.

Scroll through the gallery below to see more of Hegra:

Guests are then invited to watch a live show, located near Tomb of Malkiyun the Diviner, which highlights the importance of key moments in history in each of the heritage sites around Hegra, including the story of Queen Shuqailath.

The programme ends with a stargazing experience. The sky was fundamental to the Nabateans, as deities who had cosmological influence were worshipped and it was used as a guide and tool for navigation and agriculture. Studies have shown that evidence from Nabatean sites demonstrates astronomy may have played a vital role in the planning of city monuments and religious structures.

Every element of Hegra After Dark, from A to Z, pays homage to Nabataeans
Eman AlAnkari, visitors experience and development director at Site Management Department of the Royal Commission of AlUla

Eman AlAnkari, visitors experience and development director at Site Management Department of the Royal Commission for AlUla, tells The National that Hegra After Dark was tailor-made for the season, as temperatures fall around the kingdom.

Careful attention has been paid to every detail, from the welcome drinks to the staff uniforms.

There is audio in English and Arabic giving you context and information about the history and tombs of Hegra, AlAnkari explains. "Every element, from A to Z, pays homage to Nabateans," she says.

The set-up aims to transport visitors back in time to this ancient era and even includes a light dinner using ingredients inspired by the Nabateans.

“After doing a gap analysis study, we curated a package comprising three attractions where people can enjoy Hegra in different ways," says AlAnkari.

She says the experience was curated based on RCU’s strategy objective to attract visitors who have enjoyed AlUla back for reparative visits, and it’s an experience that takes from archaeological studies that have provided unique insights into the Nabateans’ way of life, including what they tasted, smelt, heard, touched and saw.

The Royal Commission for AlUla wants people to contemplate, interact with and learn from history, but it has also paid attention to creating "Instagrammable" moments' for visitors, which is easy thanks to the picturesque surroundings.

More exciting activities for families are due to be announced soon, says AlAnkari.

"We want people to interact with heritage, families to be able to learn about the AlUla civilisation through engaging workshops and activities across the heritage sites."

More information is available at experiencealula.com

Updated: November 25, 2021, 10:42 AM