Maraya, a multi-purpose concert and entertainment venue in AlUla, North West Saudi Arabia, has been named a winner in one of the world’s biggest architecture awards. AlUla is a destination of global significance with 200,000 years of human history and culture at the crossroads of ancient civilisations.
A finalist in the Architecture + Glass category, Maraya was selected by Architizer online magazine and distinguished luminaries from fields as diverse as design, technology, real estate and fashion. Finalists were selected for excellence in architecture with criteria based on form, function and impact. Maraya achieved the most public votes in its category to be named the 2020 popular choice winner.
Phillip Jones, Chief Destination Management and Marketing Officer at Royal Commission for AlUla said the venue will be a key draw factor when AlUla officially re-opens to visitors as a year-round destination in late 2020.
“Visitors are truly mesmerised by Maraya’s impact and by the way it blends in so perfectly and reflects its surroundings,” says Jones.
“Maraya has been conceived and designed as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 and in line with RCU’s core values to develop AlUla using a sensitive and responsible approach. AlUla is a significant, undiscovered archaeological wonder and we look forward to welcoming the world when we re-open the sites,” said Mr Jones.
The planned city Neom is also part of the Saudi Vision 2030.
Maraya contains a total of 9740 square metres of mirrors reflecting the vast and stunning desert surroundings of AlUla. The building set a Guinness World Record for being the largest mirrored building in the world in 2019 with its 26-metre-high theatre.
Maraya’s giant retractable window of more than 800 square metres opens to nature for an authentic experience blending nature and entertainment.
In Arabic ‘Maraya’ means mirrors. The building, by designer Florian Boje of Gio Forma, Milan was inspired by the landscape in the same way that the landscape has inspired architecture and art for civilisations from the Nabataeans through to this day. Read here about Nabatean water conservation.
International artists who performed at Maraya in its first year include Andrea Bocelli, Lionel Richie and Yanni.
The Royal Commission for Al-Ula (RCU) was established on July 20th, 2017 to protect and safeguard AlUla, embarking on a long-term plan to develop and deliver a sensitive, sustainable transformation of the region, reaffirming it as one of country’s most important archaeological and cultural destinations and preparing it to welcome visitors from around the world.
AlUla is located in North West Saudi Arabia, one-hour flight from Riyadh. Or about 1,000 km by car. Maraya is located in the historic Ashar Valley, ten-minute drive from Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hegra. Visitors will be able to access AlUla’s main heritage sites including Hegra, Dadan, Jabal Ikmah and access cultural touring options and a range of adventure experiences from October 2020. Sounds like a destination venue and something for the bucket list.