The Capital of Monuments
Al Ula is a city full of archeological wonders. Located in the northwest of Saudi Arabia in the Madinah province, it is a top tourist destination. Al Ula holds the distinction of containing the first UNESCO World Heritage Site of the country. This site, known as Mada'in Saleh or Hegra is an interesting archeological site that dates back to the Nabatean kingdom. It is often also associated with being the location of the Thamudi people upon whom the Prophet Salih (AS) was sent. According to Quran, the Thamud people were idol worshipers and were punished by an earthquake and lightning due to their idolatry. Mada'in Saleh is located 20km north of the city of Al Ula.
Hegra has also served an important role as a station along the ancient Hajj route. It was an important stop and provided supplies and water to the traveling pilgrims. It is also the main trade route. The famous 14th-century traveler Ibn Battuta, mentioned the red stone-cut tombs of Al-Hijr (Hegra) in his accounts. The place was uninhabited at that time. Researchers credit the immaculate preservation of this ancient site to the extremely dry weather and the lack of rehabilitation after the site was abandoned by its original inhabitants.