Hegra, or Madaín Salih is an ancient city in Saudi Arabia that is often compared with Petra. Unlike Petra though it has been protected from the hordes of tourists, until now at least, with YPT proud to have this as part of our itinerary.
To read about Petra click here.
The backstory to Hegra
Located in Al Ula, which will get its own article later this regions is pretty much the least visited part of Saudi Araboia, a country only recently opened to tourism. You will not see hordes of tourists here, nor even flag wielding expert guides, what makes this so special is simply you can go here.
Comparisons from a YPT point of view might be Persepolis in Iran, or the Pyramids in Sudan. It truly should be full of people, but isnt.
The backstory to the area dates back to a Kingdom in the 1st century AD, or CE in modern money. Of the Nabataean Kingdom it was the second largest city after Petra, again showing the Petra comparisons far from out of place.
Historically the Quran places notable alumni as Moses himself. Many religionus trials and earthquakes led to thoughts the area was cursed and it eventually was left condoned.
For those not in the now Saudi Arabia was offically closed to non-Muslims for tourism until about 5 year sago, yet even then tis region remained closed. Sadly before Saudi could develop much of tourist industry Covid came, which like many places brought havoc and death.
Saudi though is now open and from early 2022 so has Al Ula. Fort us personaly this was thus our second trip to Al Ula and Hegra.
What is it like to visit Hegra?
Anyone who has marvelled at the sight of Petra, or Persepolis in Iran will find this place amazing. And you do not need to take our word for it, it was made a UNESCO site in 2008.
Yet despite this status few people visitt due to the tourism situation in Saudi Arabaia itself.
For us again this makes it worth the journey. Where you anywhere else in the world you would be swapped with people, yet while other tourists were here. Hera much like the rest of Saudi had an ominous serenity to it. Yes things here move slowly, but it is not because you are lining forever and pushing past the hordes.
And this is also true of the guides in Saudi Arabia, who are still new to this. Do not expect elaborate explanations on what things are, merely soak in its beauty, at least for now. In future the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is intensely trying to diversify its economy for petroleum, which currently makes up 40 percent of its GDP.
Whether Saudi, Al Ula and Hegra will become tourist Meccas (no pun intended) is yet to be seen, but Saudi is fast becoming less of the beaten track than it has been previously.
To read about visiting Saudi as a woman click here.
How to visit Hegra with YPT?
Located in the Hejaz province it lies to the north of Al Ula, so getting here requires joining a tour that goes to the later city. There are ways to fly, train go by land to the main province at least, although getting to the ruins will require a vehicle and being stocked up.
Again this is not tourism central, do not expect kiosks and cheap tat, at least not yet anyway.
Of course the best way to see Hegra and the ancient city of Mada’in Salih is to join a YPT toor to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Al Alu either being part of the itinerary or available as an extension.
You can check out our next Saudi tour here.