An incredible archaeological site in Saudi Arabia is preparing for tourism; Alex Butler; Lonely Planet

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

As the notoriously difficult to visit Saudi Arabia begins to open to tourism, the kingdom has announced plans to develop an incredible historic site in a bid to attract travellers.

Al-Ula, a region home to the ancient Nabataean city and Unesco World Heritage Site Madain Saleh, will be developed for tourism after a new agreement was signed between France and Saudi Arabia. With the help of France, the country plans to protect and promote the site, while developing sustainable tourism in the area, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

Madain Saleh, originally called Hegra, was the southern Nabataean capital, while Petra was the northern capital. It was part of an important route for travel and trade for thousands of years and was a crossroads for many cultures. It is home to 131 tombs, some of which are carved dramatically into the rock faces.

Saudi Arabia announced last year that it planned to start opening its doors to travellers with the creation of a tourist visa. Previously, visas could only be obtained for pilgrims, those travelling for business, and those with family in the country.

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