AlUla – A Hidden Gem – TheGlitz Getaway

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Experience AlUla

AlUla… just the name conjures up picturesque visions of stark, stunning and spectacular lands. Indeed, AlUla is all that and more… I should know… I was one lucky traveler who had the good fortune to visit this enchanting destination.


AlUla, Ahoy!

My first glimpse of AlUla was from the window of my chartered plane, wherein I could see vast expanses of rugged sandy land replete with craggy sandstone mountains surrounded by silky dunes.

But after I land at the AlUla airport, I find myself speeding on the smooth tarmac snaking through the desert land and entering a luxe, adventurous world replete with comfort, sightseeing opportunities and excellent food.

This land is truly amazing. There is vast barrenness all around yet in the suspended emptiness and timelessness, lies a serene calm that is almost magical. And within this tranquil oasis, there are many luxe hotels and resorts that boast of amenities akin to any luxury hotel in the world. I stayed at the luxe Banyan Tree AlUlA resort situated in an eco-tourism region and it comprised beautiful tented villas dotted around vast expanses of a sandy desert.

And as I explored places around, I spotted amidst the sand dunes and craggy sandstone outcrops, the world’s largest mirrored, manmade wonder – Maraya – this is the hub of many international rock concerts. I got to watch the mesmerising Mariah Carey concert there and boy, was it a show fest!


Forever Revitalizing

AlUla in Saudi Arabia is one of the oldest cities in the world dating way back to the 6th century to the times of the ‘Silk Route’. No wonder, it is called the world’s largest living museum that holds 200,000 years of unexplored human history. But interspersed with the old, the land of AlUla has embraced surreal modernity too. There are immense sightseeing opportunities as AlUla is known for its extraordinary natural and manmade monuments that date back to the 6th century BC.

To promote this amazing destination further, AlUla’s first-ever global marketing campaign, “Forever Revitalizing” has been launched in six major international cities — Dubai, London, New York, Paris, Shanghai and Mumbai . “Forever Revitalizing” is aptly described as a “data-driven endeavor” that aims to redefine tourism in the region.

Stamping Memories

As a part of TheGlitz Getaway #StampingMemories series, Sumita Chakraborty, Editor, TheGlitz caught up with the vibrant and vivacious Melanie De Souza, Executive Director of destination marketing at The Royal Commission for AlUla, to know more about the “Forever Revitalizing” global campaign, milestones and more.

Over to Melanie de Souza


Melanie, your AlUla journey has been magical, but tell us, what made you pick AlUla?
I will make an honest confession. When I was first approached for this job, I had the usual perception barriers that a lot of people have about Saudi Arabia. But it was this very strong minded Human Resource who told me, “Give me ten minutes of your time before you say a definitive ‘no’. I will tell you about AlUla, the project and the vision 2030.”

I heard him out and the rest is history. I am here because the more I researched about this destination, the more I looked at the strategic plans and the moment I got off the plane, I knew this was the job I wanted to have. I have lived in AlUla and I have built up our marketing team there who are all residents of Alula. And we truly believe it is one of the most special places on earth.

Melanie De Souza
Melanie De Souza

TheGlitz: I agree with you. I have been to AlUla and I truly believe it is spectacular…
It is the third-party endorsement that really counts. You’ve been there and you can talk about it. I think that really matters!

What are the strategies that you are setting forth especially for the Indian travel market to make AlUla the ‘must visit’ place for tourists?
I am very encouraged by the response I’m getting and hearing about AlUla in India. I have had meetings with the travel trade and the media in India. Those like you, have been to AlUla and are such strong advocates of the destination. The media buzz around AlUla too is very strong.

Could you tell us what AlUla’s global campaign ‘Forever Revitalising’ means to you?
For me, Forever Revitalising is our global campaign that is a transformative moment” for AlUla. We think it’s a big achievement to establish ourselves as a global destination and that’s what our brand promises. So this is a campaign that will play out globally and our job is to make sure that the campaign reaches and creates a buzz and an awareness, and that we are targeting the right audiences that we have defined, and giving that level of depth of information.

From ecological restoration projects within nature reserves to the rejuvenation of age-old crafts and traditions, and the advancement of local skills and cultural enrichment, the campaign positions AlUla as a pioneering figure in the creation of an experience-driven economy. At its core, ‘Forever Revitalising’ aims to drive visitor numbers and spur economic prosperity by showcasing AlUla’s comprehensive revitalization efforts.

Do you see any challenges that may come your way?
I see more opportunities than any challenges. Like all industries, we are not pretending to be in the maturity stage. Tourism is a new phenomenon in Saudi. We have work to do to upscale and train and to be proficient in dealing with discerning tourists. So I think we are making strategic decisions to deliver on what is our objective and the audience we are targeting.

Could you pick some memorable milestones?
It would definitely be the launch of ‘Forever Revitalizing’. This is the current one that has to be a proud moment for my marketing team and it is the coming together of a major digital upgrade. The second would be… if I go back to four years… It would be building my marketing team. We now have functional heads who are global experts in their respective fields. I am very proud of putting together a team of people who are excellent in their respective fields.

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