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Winter at Tantora: Where heritage meets art in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: The northern Saudi city of Al-Ula is hosting a special season of events and festivities, as the Royal Commission for the Governorate of Al-Ula has launched Winter at Tantora.
The cultural festival is the first event of its kind to be held in the breath-taking UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is designed to showcase its wonders to the rest of the world.
Described as the Kingdom’s archaeological jewel, Al-Ula has been a meeting point of many civilizations.
Its proud residents will welcome visitors to discover the depth of their culture. Winter at Tantora is a celebration of life, culture, heritage and beauty.
The vertical sandstone cliffs surrounding Al-Ula provide ample surfaces for rock art, making it one of the richer petroglyph regions in the Kingdom.
Mount Ikma is located in the southern part of Al-Ula, with a large petroglyph panel displaying hundreds of images, including depictions of hunting scenes with humans and various animals.
The festival’s guests can visit archaeological and heritage sites that are closed for renovation and will be open only to a select group of ticket-holders.
Most notable among them is Madain Saleh, which in 2008 became Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Its key features are well-preserved remains dating back to the Late Antiquity period, and 131 rock-cut tombs that are linked to the Nabatean kingdom.
Other attractions include Al-Khoraiba site, part of the ruins of the ancient city of Dadan, which was the Dadanian kingdom’s metropolis.
It includes archaeological sites, sculptured rocks, and inscriptions that document economic, political, religious and social activities.
Harrat Uwayrid is a 400-stone gate — thought to be used for trapping animals — with graves scattered across the lava fields.
Another attraction is a gigantic natural sandstone rock resembling an elephant with its trunk touching the ground.
Archaeological remains dating back more than 2,000 years, and an abundance of natural attractions, make Al-Ula one of the world’s greatest undiscovered wonders.
The festival is hosted by the city’s residents and runs from Dec. 20, 2018, to Feb. 9, 2019. It includes cultural events, a spectacular equine experience, and musical performances by some of the world’s greatest artists.
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