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The World of ITB

REVIVING CULTURAL LEGACY IN THE ARABIAN DESERT

Details have been revealed of the “New concept designs for the Sharaan” by Jean Nouvel resort in AlUla, Saudi Arabia.

The plans offer a deeper understanding of the architect’s daring vision for the cultural oasis in north-west Arabia. Located deep within the Sharaan Nature Reserve, the designs draw on the nearby Nabataean wonders of Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In a world-first, this 2,000-year-old architectural legacy is being revived by Jean Nouvel for potentially the first time since the Nabataeans carved into the region’s millions-of-years-old sandstone rock. The end result will see guests immersed deep within in a memorable journey through time and space, offering a true discovery of AlUla’s essence.

Through immersive experiences in Sharaan’s wilderness, visitors will have personalised exposure to the hundreds of archaeological sites within AlUla. Yet, this level of luxury will not be at the cost of the natural landscape, as the new resort will draw on emission-free power and new standards in sustainability.

As the concepts have been unveiled, architect Jean Nouvel described AlUla as “The coming together of a landscape and history; The history of past civilisations in an extraordinary landscape – the only place to create such a masterpiece.”

Nouvel views this resort as an opportunity to bring to life a strong spatial, sensorial and emotional experience on the borders of nature, architecture and art – where the sound, musicality, harshness, tactility, power and complexity of nature are everywhere, from finely chopped stones on balconies to the singular granularity of each rock wall, all becomes an artwork in itself.

The architect’s commitment to respecting AlUla’s landscape and ancient heritage has not meant shying away from modern architectural ideas. “AlUla deserves to acquire a degree of modernity,” he suggests. “Envisioning the future is a never-ending obligation that requires us to be fully alive to places in the present as well as conjuring up the past.”

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