AlUla heritage sites reopen to public Oct. 31

Flights are available to AlUla from Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. (File/AFP)
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Updated 16 October 2020

AlUla heritage sites reopen to public Oct. 31

ALULA: The historical and cultural open-air museum of AlUla in northwest Saudi Arabia will reopen its heritage sites to tourists on Oct. 31.
The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has confirmed that the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hegra, the ancient kingdom of Dadan and the whispering canyons of Jabal Ikmah will be the first sites to reopen to the public, largely having been closed to visitors for more than two years.
RCU has announced that residents of AlUla will have the chance to access the sites exclusively on Oct. 30 for free on a first-come, first-served basis for the entire opening weekend. Visitors can sign up to experiencealula.com to find out about the bookings available for the heritage sites and when other experiences are live.
Visitors will enjoy significant airport enhancements, new comfortable transport options around town and the heritage sites, and information provision at two new visitor centers.
AlUla’s new quality assurance program will also ensure that visitors receive a warm and professional welcome.
Safety measures for the coronavirus pandemic have been put in place in adherence to Ministry of Health protocols, which align with the “safe travels” guidelines published by the World Travel and Tourism Council.
The measures include mandatory pre-booking of tickets, temperature checks at the airport, distancing and limitations of visitors at heritage and other sites, increased sanitation measures and mandatory mask-wearing.
Phillip Jones, RCU’s chief destination management and marketing officer, said that he was delighted that the sites were reopening in October.
“There is no doubt it’s been a challenging year for all industries but our teams have worked hard to deliver this important stage in our tourism journey, and in the next chapter of AlUla’s journey through time,” Jones said.
Activations and immersive experiences at the heritage sites, as well as adventure experiences and events, will be announced over the coming weeks and will be phased in over the winter months, with the full suite of experiences planned for the winter season expected by the first quarter of 2021.
AlUla Old Town will also be open as a visitor experience to the public for the first time from December.
“We are developing engaging, authentic, light-touch tourism experiences that hero the essence of AlUla — our heritage sites, natural assets and of course the AlUla community,” Jones said.
He added: “We have a full team onsite to get the destination ready to welcome those first visitors and we’re excited to give the local community a chance to revisit their heritage sites before the rest of the world, while we continue to build on the experiences.”
“Through our team of travel industry professionals, we are setting up the foundations for a fully integrated booking and travel distribution system to make visiting AlUla an easy, value-driven and seamless experience, and to get international-ready for when visit visas are reinstated,” Jones said.
Flights are available with Saudia airlines to AlUla from Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.
AlUla is a 10-hour drive from Riyadh, a seven-hour drive from Jeddah, and is just over three hours from Madinah and Tabuk airports. It is a two-and-a-half-hour drive to the Red Sea, which visitors can add on to their trip.


Saudi women get in the swing for golf glory

Though golf is a relatively new sport in the country, women have been encouraged to take up the game through new opportunities and support provided to them. (Supplied)
Updated 30 min 21 sec ago

Saudi women get in the swing for golf glory

  • Depending on location, players in the scheme will be designated as a Ladies First Member at either Riyadh Golf Club, Dirab Golf Club or King Abdullah Economic City’s Royal Greens Golf & Country Club

JEDDAH: Saudi women are breaking new barriers on the Kingdom’s golf greens, becoming acquainted with the sport and the benefits that come with it.
Though golf is a relatively new sport in the country, women have been encouraged to take up the game through new opportunities and support provided to them.
Golf continues to be a male-dominated sport. Despite women showing huge interest in the game, they are poorly represented in its ranks around the world.
A recently launched sporting initiative will allow women in the Kingdom to learn golf for free. The Aramco Saudi Ladies International, presented by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), is a first for the Kingdom. Another project, Golf Saudi’s innovative “Ladies First Club,” will offer complimentary membership, including golf lessons, driving range access and full 18-hole rounds on three different courses.
The offer is open to all Saudi women, with initial membership capped at 1,000. Sarah Al-Arifi, a 26-year-old Saudi entrepreneur, told Arab News that she was excited about the prospect of a Saudi female golf club. Even though the sport is perceived as male dominated globally, sports development is progressing rapidly in the Kingdom and is becoming inclusive, Al-Arifi said. She said the new projects will be “empowering.”
Al-Arifi highlighted the benefits of creating a community for every sport, not only golf, adding that from a consumer’s perspective, it promises to generate creativity.
“Having a community for a specific sport is not only important, it’s necessary because it drives competition and that’s much better for us as consumers. The obvious benefits of a community aside, as a consumer, I want there to be competition because it drives innovation and problem solving,” she said.
Depending on location, players in the scheme will be designated as a Ladies First Member at either Riyadh Golf Club, Dirab Golf Club or King Abdullah Economic City’s  Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.
The Ladies First Club will officially launch during a tournament buildup for the Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF.
It will take place between Nov. 12 and 15, two days before the Saudi Ladies Team International, which will see teams of four golfers compete for $500,000 in prize money from Nov. 17 to 19.