Saudi Arabia’s stunning desert locale, Al Ula, will now be open year-round…

As Saudi Arabia opens up to international tourism, there’s one destination that’s shot straight to the top of travellers’ wish lists: Al Ula.

Situated 700 kilometres north of Jeddah, this spectacular desert region is home to a wealth of historic sites, and the annual Winter at Tantora Festival. While it’s previously only been open to visitors, photographers and journalists who’ve been granted special access, Al Ula will officially reopen to the public in October.

Al Ula

Things to do in Al Ula

Al Ula’s undiscovered gems include the Unesco World Heritage Site Madain Saleh, or Hegra. The historic site is home to a series of rock tombs, carved by the Nabatean tribe between the first century BC and the first century AD. Dubbed the ‘new Petra’, when it reopens in October this spectacular area will operate year-round as an open-air museum.

Also high on your Al Ula itinerary are the archaeological remains of Dadan, an ancient city from the first millennium BC; the wall carvings at Jabal Ikmah; and the 12th century Old Town of Al Ula.

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According to Phillip Jones, Chief Destination Officer of the Royal Commission for Al Ula, KSA residents will be the first to access Al Ula, as domestic travel slowly begins to open up.

Al Ula elephant rock

“With the rebound of the travel sector undoubtedly starting close to home, KSA residents within a drive or a short flight of Al Ula will get a head start on experiencing the raw, natural beauty and monumentality of landscapes in their backyard,” Jones said.

Visitors to Al Ula will be able to join guide walks and self-guided treks to the key sites. More adventurous travellers can hit the dunes in a desert buggy, or take to the skies in a light aircraft.

There are currently five accommodation options for overnight stays in Al Ula, with plans for more hotels in the pipeline.

Images: Supplied