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

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

by Madaline Dunn

Following its debut in Paris in 2019, the ‘AlUla, Wonder of Arabia’ exhibition is to debut in Beijing, China, from 5 January to 24 March 2024.

Opening its doors at the Palace Museum in Beijing’s Forbidden City, the exhibition will give visitors the opportunity to explore the history 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).

The exhibition is Curated by archaeologists Dr. Laïla Nehmé and Dr. Abdulrahman Alsuhaibani, Executive Director of Archaeology, Conservation and Collections at RCU, and takes visitors 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 also encounter rare sculptures, pottery, inscriptions, bronze artefacts, ancient animal bones, immersive multimedia, and works by acclaimed photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

According to the organisers explained that through the curated, chronological layout of the exhibition, visitors can explore the geographical intricacies and environmental settings that facilitated the earliest human settlements.

Commenting on the exhibition, His Highness Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud, Minister of Culture and Governor of RCU, said: “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,’ stops at the four main sites in AlUla: Dadan, Hegra, Qurh, and AlUla Old Town.

Each site unveils unique aspects of AlUla’s history, featuring highlights such as the 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 artefacts discovered within the site.

The third site on display is Qurh, located 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.

It also had a rich economic history dating back to the pre-Islamic era and was 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 an 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).

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

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.

The ‘AlUla, Wonder of Arabia’ exhibition will be open to the public free of charge starting 5th January at the Palace Museum in Beijing.

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