King Salman plans to turn historic sites into tourist attractions

Al-Ola and Diriyah Gate both house UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Mountains overlooking the landscape in Mada’en Saleh, a pre-Islamic archaeological site located in Al-Ola in north west Saudi Arabia (webpage) / SaudiTourism.sa.
By Lubna Hamdan
Wed 26 Jul 2017 09:48 AM

King Salman bin Abdulaziz has set up renovation commissions to develop two main archaeological and historic sites, Al-Ola and Diriyah Gate, in Saudi Arabia.

The areas are expected to attract local and international tourists due their significant historic, cultural and architectural aspects.

The commissions are in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan, which includes a target of attracting one million tourists annually by putting in place the right infrastructure to grow the country’s tourism industry.


Temples and stone monuments in Mada’en Saleh. Some temples are for general use and others for special worship and many of them were built around Mount Athlib to the north east of Mada’en Saleh (webpage) /SaudiTourism.sa (Photo: ME NewsWire).

The town of Al-Ola was originally founded in the 6th century. It houses Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mada’en Saleh, which was built more than 2,000 years ago by the Nabataeans, who carved the famous Petra site in Jordan.

Diriyah Gate also includes UNESCO World Heritage Site Turaif District. Its renovation will involve the addition of national themes and designs representing Saudi Arabian heritage. Touristic facilities will also be built at the area’s entrance to attract visitors.


The layered rock formations of Mount Athlib to the north east of Mada’en Saleh (webpage). / SaudiTourism.sa (Photo: ME NewsWire).

The historic area lies in the small city of Diriyah, 20 km from Riyadh. It was reportedly the first capital of the Saudi Royal Dynasty from mid-1700s to early 1800s. It boasts plenty of Najdi architecture from that period.

Both of the areas’ commissions will be headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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