A new era dawns for Saudi Arabia’s ancient cities of Al-Ula; Anna Pukas; Arab News

Saudi Arabia – Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih)

Five thousand years ago, Al-Ula was as cosmopolitan as they come. For traders and adventurers alike it was an essential stop on the road between the Mediterranean and the Arab world, and far beyond to Asia and Africa.

Now 200 young Saudis are in the vanguard of an ambitious project to bring travelers back to Al-Ula — this time as tourists and lovers of history, eager to explore one of the greatest profusions of cultural treasures to be found anywhere in the world.

Recruited from Al-Ula region, the 200 young people —  all high-school leavers or in their first year as university students, and split 50-50 between boys and girls — are in Riyadh being trained in hospitality, learning new languages, studying farming and water technology and swotting up on the cultural, social and natural history of their home region.

There is a great deal of ground to cover — literally as well as figuratively. Al-Ula province covers 22,000 square kilometers of golden sandstone and oases. The region, which is the size of Belgium, is packed with little-known treasures created by ancient civilizations.

Read more from source: A new era dawns for Saudi Arabia’s ancient cities of Al-Ula

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