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Eye of Riyadh
Business & Money | Friday 29 December, 2023 12:30 am |

‘AlUla, Wonder of Arabia’ exhibition to debut in Beijing,

: Following its celebrated debut in Paris in 2019, the ‘AlUla, Wonder of Arabia’ exhibition is set to captivate the Chinese public for the first time from 5th January to 24th March, 2024.


Opening its doors at the Palace Museum in Beijing’s Forbidden City, this extraordinary, multilayered showcase will take visitors on an epic journey through the undiscovered history and legacy of AlUla, unveiling recently excavated archaeological artefacts that have been rarely displayed to the public.


Located at the West Wing of the Meridian Gate at the Palace Museum, the exhibition is a collaboration between the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) and the French Agency for AlUla Development (AFALULA). Curated by archaeologists Dr. Laïla Nehmé and Dr. Abdulrahman Alsuhaibani, Executive Director of Archaeology, Conservation and Collections at RCU, the exhibition promises a journey like no other through AlUla’s 7,000 years of successive civilisations and human history.


In addition to the Chinese debut of the rarely excavated artefacts, visitors will encounter rare sculptures, pottery, inscriptions, bronze artefacts, ancient animal bones, immersive multimedia, and works by acclaimed photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Through the expertly curated, chronological layout of the exhibition, visitors can seamlessly explore of the geographical intricacies and environmental settings that facilitated the earliest human settlements.


His Highness Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud, Minister of Culture and Governor of RCU, stated, “The inauguration of the ‘AlUla, Wonder of Arabia’ exhibition within the People’s Republic of China stands as a reflection of the cooperation that amicably binds our two nations. Furthermore, it serves as a profound testimony to our shared belief in the fundamental role of culture, empowering our hope that visitors to this exhibition will be able to embark upon an extraordinary journey through time within the heart of AlUla.”


‘AlUla, Wonder of Arabia,’ invites audiences to embark on a journey through history, with stops at the four main sites in AlUla: Dadan, Hegra, Qurh, and AlUla Old Town. Each site unveils unique aspects of AlUla's rich history, featuring highlights such as the exquisitely crafted sculptures of Dadan, once home to the Dadanite and Lihyanite kingdoms, and immersive movies showcasing the stone-carved tombs in Hegra—the principal southern city of the Nabataean Kingdom and Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, in addition to bronze artifacts discovered within the site.


The third site on-display is Qurh, situated 20 km south of AlUla, was once a thriving metropolis in Wadi al-Qura, described by historical sources as the third-largest city in the Arabian Peninsula, with a rich economic history dating back to the pre-Islamic era and marked by its role as a significant stop on the Syrian and Egyptian pilgrimage routes. AlUla Old Town will be the fourth site to be exhibited at ‘AlUla, Wonders of Arabia’, as it stands as a poignant archaeological testament to the daily life of AlUla's inhabitants until the early 1980s, showcasing a strategic location over the wadi bed with drystone and mud brick houses enveloping the Old Town Citadel (Musa bin Nusair Citadel), and its recent preservation efforts reflect a crucial chapter in the region's history, fostering interdisciplinary studies and modern technologies to unravel the town's origins, evolution, and intricate urban network.


Another notable highlight of the exhibition is a recently excavated ‘mustatil’ (which means ‘rectangle’ in Arabic) from the Neolithic period, revealing a layer of animal remains and various decorations crafted from their horns.


As AlUla continues to welcome visitors, the exhibition signifies a valuable intersection between the ancient and rich cultures of Saudi Arabia and China, complementing the deep economic and trade relations that have been built between the two nations over the years.


Saudi Arabia was granted Approved Destination Status (ADS) by China in September, facilitating convenient travel for Chinese tourists and laying a solid foundation for more visitors to explore AlUla, one of the world’s most exciting luxury boutique destinations. Rooted in its ancient culture yet driven by modernity, AlUla offers a range of high-end accommodation, dining, retail, as well as stunning heritage sites, lush natural landscapes, adventure and wellness activities, and a year-round calendar of events.


The ‘AlUla, Wonder of Arabia’ exhibition will be open to the public free of charge starting 5th January at the Palace Museum in Beijing. Interested audiences are encouraged to visit the Palace Museum’s website www.dpm.org.cn to make reservations and experience the history of AlUla.


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