Maraya: A world-class mirrored concert hall in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla Valley

Maraya: A world-class mirrored concert hall in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla Valley
A view of the AlUlla mountains reflected by the glass-walled Maraya Concert Hall unveiled as part of the Winter at Tantora festival. (Supplied)
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Updated 31 December 2019

Maraya: A world-class mirrored concert hall in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla Valley

Maraya: A world-class mirrored concert hall in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla Valley
  • The 500-seat capacity venue is hosting global talent who are showcasing their skills during the cultural event

ALULA: The newly constructed Maraya Concert Hall in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, has been showcased as part of the Winter at Tantora festival.  

Maraya, which means reflection or mirror in Arabic, is built close to Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO world heritage site Al-Hijra.

The architecture of the mirrored hall captures the attention of visitors and adds to the mystery of AlUla Valley. The hall is surrounded by mountains, combining modernism and antiquity.

The 500-seat capacity venue is hosting global talent who are showcasing their skills during the cultural event. Last week, Arab music maestro Omar Khairat wowed the audience and more treats are in store throughout the festival.

It was built by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) to become an architectural extension of the environment that surrounds it at its site in Ashar, situated in the volcanic foothills of Harrat ‘Uwayrid.

“AlUla is a place of heritage for the world and this is our 21st century realization of our vision to create a cultural hub, with Maraya as a stunning centerpiece venue for world-class events, performances, celebrations and business gatherings,” RCU CEO Amr Al-Madani told Arab News. 

“Maraya is a medium that intertwines nature, culture and humanity. We are proud to celebrate the opening and we thank the expert team of architects, construction specialists and partners who give rise to this incredible building from a stunning desert setting.”

Architect Florian Boje said Maraya made people reflect on the “incomparable spectacle” of the geological epic and the “unique incursions” of man in the landscape. 

“The reflection becomes an immersive connector and balance, giving to us the burden and responsibility of our own image merged with the landscape,” he added.

Maraya is part of the RCU vision set out in its cultural manifesto, an open invitation to the global arts and business communities to join it in building a new chapter for AlUla. 

“AlUla’s art mandate is bold,” says the manifesto. “It will continue to be a destination reflected, carved and inspired by artists, and a place for era-defining monumental works. Successive civilizations have infused the landscape with their material culture and ideas. AlUla will be considered an arts destination that continues to be built by artists, breathing imagination, inspiration, and expression into AlUla’s infrastructure, buildings, daily life and visitor experiences.”

The rebirth of AlUla
Hegra, ancient city of the Nabataeans in Saudi Arabia’s historic AlUla Valley, is emerging from the mists of time to take its rightful place as one of the wonders of the world

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British resident of Eastern Province rewarded for environmental work

Updated 04 December 2020

British resident of Eastern Province rewarded for environmental work

British resident of Eastern Province rewarded for environmental work
  • Neil Walker honored for his efforts to keep beaches of Alkhobar clean over past 27 years

RIYADH: British expat and longtime resident of Saudi Arabia Neil Walker was last week awarded with a certificate of recognition for his efforts to keep the beaches of Alkhobar clean over the past 27 years.

Eastern Province Mayor Fahd Al-Jubair presented Walker — who is returning to the UK after more than a quarter-century in Saudi Arabia — with his certificate and thanked him for his service to the Kingdom’s environment.

“We hope this message gets across to residents of the Eastern Province. We are keen to honor all efforts to protect the environment and to recognize creative initiatives aimed at preserving the environment whether from Saudi nationals or expatriate residents,” Al-Jubair told Arab News, urging all members of the public to work together to protect the environment.

Neil Walker — who  is returning to the UK after more than a quarter-century in Saudi Arabia — ‘is deeply humbled to be recognized for his cleanup drive’. (Supplied)

Walker explained to Arab News that his beach-cleaning activities have been focused on an area to the south of Half Moon Bay since he moved to the area.

“For the last 27 years I have been visiting a stretch of beach in that area on my day off to spend the day on a potentially lovely beach looking out on the glorious Arabian Gulf,” he said.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Eastern Province Mayor Fahd Al-Jubair presented Neil Walker with his certificate.
  • The mayor thanked Walker for his service to the Kingdom’s environment.
  • Walker is returning to the UK after more than a quarter-century in Saudi Arabia.
  • Eastern Province municipality has previously recognized the efforts of 200 Filipinos over the years for helping to clean the beaches and to promote awareness among other residents.
  • It has launched a number of initiatives intended to involve the public in keeping public areas free of waste.

“Unfortunately, it was marred by litter and manmade rubbish, either brought in by the tides or dumped by previous visitors, so I took it upon myself to clean the beach before settling down and then in the late afternoon to extend my cleaning activities to either side of my camping spot.”

The diverse ecosystem of the Arabian Gulf supports a range of coastal and marine life, including mangroves, sea grass, coral reefs and more.

Neil Walker has inspired creative environmental initiatives in Alkhobar. (Supplied)

The rapid industrialization of the area has introduced many environmental challenges that require human intervention.

Something as simple as a beach cleanup is necessary from time to time to ensure the environment is preserved and protected.

“Although I have seen a slight improvement, a lot still needs to be done and hopefully the publicity I have received will be of value to this end,” Walker said.

“As I see it, the problem is that the majority of the public are unaware and are used to having other people cleaning up for them, they automatically think that it is somebody else’s responsibility. This needs to change,” Walker said, adding that he was deeply humbled and honored to be recognized for his limited contribution in cleaning up the beaches.

Neil Walker has inspired creative environmental initiatives in Alkhobar. (Supplied)

“A few years ago, I assume there was a change in management in the municipality, resulting in a new logo and cleaning crew, which has led to a greatly improved street cleaning and public area routine and the introduction of many waste bins, which are now being used by the public,” he continued.

Eastern Province municipality has previously recognized the efforts of 200 Filipinos over the years for helping to clean the beaches and to promote awareness among other residents.

Like several other municipalities nationwide, it has launched a number of initiatives intended to involve the public in keeping public areas free of waste in order to better preserve the environment.