As part of Saudi Arabia‘s continued efforts to celebrate art and culture in the region, history enthusiasts are now invited to partake in virtual tours of one of the country’s most iconic landmarks, AlUla. Created by The Royal Commission of AlUla (RCU), the series of 360-degree videos allow users to experience the ancient sights of Jabal Ithlib, Jabal Ikmah, and the Old Town, to name a few.
In conjunction with animated illustrations that depict what life might have looked like for Nabataeans, the early residents of these lands, the videos help visitors share in the richness of AlUla’s heritage and history. Working closely with archaeologists to conduct excavations of the sites, the team behind the videos effortlessly tells the story of a time long gone through the work of inscription experts and museum staff.
Speaking to the mysticism and intrigue of AlUla, chief destination manager at RCU Philip Jones says, “AlUla is a special place that you really need to visit to appreciate, but since that’s not possible right now, our interactive virtual tours offer a teaser of the real thing — a chance to take a deep dive into the stories, culture and heritage of the people of AlUla throughout time.”
While ‘stay at home’ restrictions and social distancing requirements make visiting AlUla in the flesh slightly difficult, the videos aim to go beyond present-day challenges in a bid to share the story of this historic region to a wide range of visitors, both inside and outside of the Kingdom.
Speaking to Arab News, Riyadh-resident Sarah Al-Issa shared the desire she harbors to visit AlUla but, having never had the chance, has enjoyed virtually exploring the sites through the new videos. Commenting on the experience, Al-Issa says “I’m sure it’s not as good as the real thing, but it is good enough for now. And I love the explanation videos and the animations, it’s a very nice touch instead of just a 360-degree picture with no context.”
Meanwhile, Sara Al-Fouzan who has been to AlUla, says in agreeance, that people should take a look at the videos, but “not think they’ve seen AlUla just because of them. Visit if you have the chance. You’ll be blown away,” she says.
The virtual tours, in addition to the country’s recent announcement of hosting its first Biennale, make up part of its plans to develop and deliver a sensitive, sustainable outlook for the region in terms of art, archaeology, culture, and history. In a bid to reaffirm its stance as a world leader in the arts, Saudi’s 2030 plan aims to celebrate national identity while building understanding and bringing people together.