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  • Writer's pictureMike Cobb

Saudi Arabia Family Fun Tour: Day 2 - From Ancient Marvels to Modern Reflections

Day 2 of our Saudi Arabia Family Fun Tour was a kaleidoscope of experiences, from the mesmerizing Elephant Rock to the world-class AlUla Polo Grounds. Guided by the expertise of our private guide, Adil, we delved into the rich history of Dadan, explored the labyrinthine Old Town AlUla, and marveled at the contemporary wonder of Maraya. Our day concluded with the enchanting art of shadow play, adding a perfect touch to a day filled with history, culture, and modern marvels.

Our day began with a visit to the iconic Elephant Rock, a geological wonder that defies imagination. The rock formation, resembling an elephant with its trunk gracefully touching the ground, provided a visual spectacle. The site, adorned with restaurants and cool recessed seating, offered not only a glimpse of nature's artistic prowess but also a tranquil space to appreciate its beauty.

Next, we explored the AlUla Polo Grounds, home to the Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo, a unique tournament staged in the heart of the desert. From January 26 to 28, 2023, this world-class event, in partnership with Polo Club Saint-Tropez – Haras de Gassin, showcased the exhilarating fusion of sport and the stunning landscapes of AlUla. Cailey and I had a little excitement with the security guards and an attempted detainment. A story for another blog.

Guided by Adil, we ventured to Dadan, described as the "largest open library in Saudi Arabia." Nestled in a remote canyon valley, Dadan served as a caravan way station, and Jabal Ikmah, with its ancient inscriptions and carvings, bore witness to the crossroads of civilizations in AlUla. The rock art, dating back to the 1st millennium BCE, offered a glimpse into the daily lives of past civilizations.

Our exploration continued in the labyrinthine Old Town AlUla, where tightly packed streets and mudbrick buildings stood as a testament to the region's history as a thriving settlement along ancient trading routes. The colossal watchtower fort added a touch of grandeur to the once-thriving town that dates back almost a millennium.

Our journey took an artistic turn with a visit to Maraya, the world's largest mirrored building, nestled in the desert canyon of Ashar Valley. This architectural marvel, adorned with 9,740 mirrored panels, reflected not only the beauty of AlUla but also celebrated its role as a crossroads of cultures throughout history. Maraya emerged as a contemporary cultural center, hosting concerts, performances, and art residency programs that elevate AlUla on the global stage.

Our day concluded with the enchanting world of shadow art, adding a touch of magic to our AlUla experience. As shadows danced against the ancient walls, it served as a symbolic bridge between the rich heritage of the past and the vibrant cultural scene emerging in AlUla today.

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