Al-Ula county, located 300km north of Medina, is a place of extraordinary human and natural heritage. The Wadi Al-Qura (the Valley of Villages), a lush oasis valley that runs through Al-Ula, sheltered by sandstone mountains, created a perfect environment for civilisations to flourish. The Dedanites, Lihyanites and Nabataeans all built cities here.
The Al-Ula region is a natural crossroads and was an important trading route used from at least the first millennium BC. Positioned on the ancient Incense Route between Southern Arabia and Egypt, Al-Ula became a hub of commercial and cultural exchange, its cities and oases important stopping-points for traders of frankincense, myrrh and other precious commodities.
A marker for the changing of the seasons.
Tantora is a sundial located in Al-Ula’s Old Town. It has been used by the local population for hundreds of years as a marker for the start of the winter planting season, mostly for seed crops such as grains. It is a triangular feature, constructed as the upper part of a wall.
Tantora has, over time, become the focal point of an annual festival marking the start of the winter season. On December 22nd at noon, the shadow from the sundial reaches a stone on the ground in the courtyard marking the first day of a 40-day period of winter planting.
In the past, loose stones were placed by the mu'allim in different spots on a daily basis to tell time, in order to distribute water equitably to farms of the tid'il qanat neigbourhood.
Inaugurated by HH Prince Badr, Govenor of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula, Maraya - mirror in Arabic - is our new purpose-built concert hall. A feat of modern engineering the building is an extension of the environment around it in design and beauty with two sides covered entirely in mirrors, reflecting the natural beauty of the region.