Al-Ula Planners, Developers Keen to Keep Historic Beauty of Site Intact with Millions Expected Annually

Planners and developers working on making Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula UNESCO heritage site easier and more enjoyable to visit are keen to keep intact the natural beauty and wonder of the site, the UAE-based The National reports, citing an interview with Francesca Arici, the site’s chief planning officer.

Officials are “drawing up a new planning system, ensuring the hotels, businesses and homes that will eventually form part of the development perfectly compliment the Unesco World Heritage Site,” according to the report.

“We are developing a system that is targeted mainly at protecting our cultural landscapes in such a way that we allow development but do not spoil our amazing landscapes,” Arici said. “It’s not just the nature. We also have this amazing history of humankind interacting with the place…We need beds, we need to give people a place to sleep if we want them to come. But we are looking for the right way to develop, which is not the case everywhere.”

“We don’t want to just be forbidding things, but to give a set of rules that allow development in the right way,” she added.

This means no high-rise hotels or tower blocks, with any major developments being kept well away from the most important sites.

Al-Ula is considered one of the crown jewels in Saudi Arabia’s newly developed plans to boost domestic and international tourism interests in Saudi Arabia as part of the Kingdom’s efforts to diversify its economy.