Al-‘Ula, the undiscovered hidden gem of Saudi Arabia, was the capital of the ancient Kingdoms of Dadan and Lihyan. It controlled the caravan trade along the famous incense-trading routes between Southern Arabia, Egypt and beyond. As caravans passed through they  took advantage of its abundant resources and enjoyed much-needed respite along their journey in return for taxes. 

Recently opened to leisure travellers, this largely undiscovered region holds remarkably well preserved, a timeless and complex history spanning 200,000 years. Evidence of prehistoric habitation with the discovery of Paleolithic stone tools, inscriptions and rock art, through to burials and funerary monuments of the Bronze age, the grand tombs of ancient Arabain Kingdoms of Dadan and Nabataea from 600 BC, Roman settlements dating back to 106 BC and traces of water management systems from the early Islamic period 600 AD through to modern-day. 

Layer upon layer of human history and a wealth of natural wonders are waiting to be explored, from dramatic rock formations and sand-swept dunes to archaeological ruins that trace ancient cultures. 

Hegra or Mada’in Saleh, a UNESCO Heritage-listed site, is the second settlement of the Nabatean people who also built the city of Petra but with barely any visitors. Our recommendation is to visit as early as possible before the crowds hit! Strewn between some of the most stunning desert scenery are a collection of tombs carved into the rock about 130 of which have been excavated so far. Each one is different in shape, size and decoration, reflecting the status of the people buried here and giving a great into the lives of these ancient people.

Dadan and Jabal Ikmah Renowned as one of the most developed ancient cities of the Arabian Peninsula, the Kingdom of Dedan flourished from at least the 6th century until the 2nd century BCE. What remains of the city are a dozen or so tombs cut into a cliff-face with some remarkable inscriptions demonstrating the high culture of this civilisation. A visit to nearby Jabal Ikmah, an area with the largest concentration of pre-historic man-made rock art and script in Saudi Arabia.

Al-‘Ula  Old Town, is still an active restoration project. The 900 traditional mud-brick houses and 5-Rabha's or squares are being  meticulously restored for preservation. Although presently empty, the town was  inhabited until the 1980s, when most families left to settle in newer cities with more modern facilities.

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