Desert X
Riyadh & AlUla

Bespoke travel, price upon request

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    Saudi Arabia is a must-see destination. Long closed to tourism, the kingdom has undergone an extraordinary transformation over the last years. Our European imaginations often struggle to picture the gigantic scale of recent projects carried out on the Arabian Peninsula. You have to see these prodigious modern achievements for yourself!


    You will be dazzled by the avant-garde nature of Riyadh, one of the richest cities on the planet. The kingdom’s capital is also one of the world’s centres for contemporary art. During the Contemporary Art Biennial, we invite you to discover Riyadh’s art scene through its museums and visits of private studios.


    While Saudi Arabia is a land of innovation, the Kingdom has not forgotten its Islamic traditions and thousand-year-old history. You will be struck by the majestic beauty of the landscapes of the AlUla valley, a sublime oasis in the desert. In an exceptional setting, you will visit the Nabataean archaeological sites and the Desert X exhibition, undoubtedly the most spectacular land art event in the world.


    For those who want to pursue the adventure, there is the option of continuing their stay in Jeddah, the country’s second city. Located on the west coast, the port city boasts some of the best galleries on the Arabian Peninsula, world-class museums and a vibrant arts scene. In Jeddah, we will have the opportunity to meet some of Saudi Arabia’s most renowned artists in their studios.


    A unique experience in every way!




    © Shadia Alem Desert X AlUla 2022, photo by Lance Gerber

    ©Shezad Dawood Coral Alchemy I (Dipsastrea Speciosa) Desert X AlUla, photo by Lance Gerber


    Arts Festival
    The program
    Flight to Riyadh
    Visit to some of the city's best galleries
    Visit of artists private studios
    AlUla - Maraya Concert Hall
    Visit to Desert X
    Return flight
    DAY 1 – Riyadh

    Recommended flight: flight from Paris to Riyadh at 11.25am (direct flight with Saudia airlines).


    Flight time: 6h10

    Arrival in Riyadh.


    Transfer to your hotel.

    Check-in and dinner at the hotel.

    Night at the hotel.

    DAY 2 – Riyadh

    Breakfast at the hotel.


    We begin our first day of sightseeing with a tour of Riyadh’s historic centre. At the heart of the old city stands Fort Masmak, built around 1865 and made of clay and unbaked earth. You will also enjoy a stroll through the Souq Al-Zal, famous for its vintage carpets and traditional objects: it remains a must for history buffs and craft enthusiasts alike.


    Lunch during the visits.


    A wind of renewal is blowing across Saudi Arabia, and across Riyadh in particular. Airy and dynamic, the Kingdom’s capital surprises its visitors with the modernity of its infrastructures. Welcome to the twenty-second, and sometimes even the twenty-third century! In the run-up to the Universal Exhibition in 2030, Riyadh will be hosting its first Contemporary Art Biennial in early 2024. Benefiting from an effervescent scene, the Arab city is banking more than ever on the prestige of art and culture to project itself into a fossil fuel free future.


    Artists from all over the world gather in Riyadh, and in the afternoon you will be able to visit some of the city’s best galleries, including the famous ATHR Gallery, the Naila Art Gallery, Misk Art (which focuses on cutting-edge digital technologies) and the Misk Art Institute (which is dedicated to the development of Saudi and Arab art).


    In the late afternoon, set off to discover the small town of Ad-Dir’iyah, north-west of Riyadh, and its historic centre of At-Turaif, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founded in the 15th century, this former capital of the Saudi dynasty bears witness to the Nadji architectural style and includes the remains of numerous palaces.


    After the visits, dinner in a gourmet Saudi restaurant.


    Night at the hotel.

    DAY 3 – Riyadh

    Breakfast at the hotel.


    The highlight of the tour will undoubtedly be a visit of the private studios of major artists living in Riyadh. Among them is Ahmed Mater (1979), a leading figure in Saudi art. His work, acclaimed the world over, is exhibited in the most prestigious international institutions. Maha Malluh (1959) likes to use traditional objects from popular and ancient culture to transform them into ultra-modern works. As for Hmoud Al Attawi (1986), the artist brilliantly reflects on the country’s history and the place of women in Saudi Arabia.


    Lunch during the visits and dinner after enjoying a panoramic view of Riyadh.


    Night at the hotel.


    Breakfast at the hotel and early transfer to Riyadh airport.

    At 9am, flight to AlUla with Saudia, in Business Class.

    At 11 am, arrival at AlUla airport and transfer to the hotel, followed by lunch.


    What a site! For thousands of years, the AlUla Valley has stunned the imagination with its beauty. With its sandstone mountains and verdant oasis, the valley has been inhabited since ancient times, notably by the Nabataeans, who built some of their finest cities there. Accompanied by an archaeologist, we will visit the city of Dadan, which reached its apogee in the first century BC. On its cliff faces, Jabal Ikmah reveals magnificent petroglyphs, like an open-air library.


    After that, you will be able to enjoy a 30-minute helicopter flight over the site.


    Evening at the Maraya Concert Hall (programme to be announced). One of the wonders of AlUla (and pending the future Museum of Contemporary Art in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou) is the incredible Maraya Concert Hall: this building, designed in 2019 by Italian architects Già Forma and Black Engineering, is made up of ten thousand mirrors reflecting the surrounding green mountains!


    Night at the hotel.

    DAY 5 – AlUla

    Breakfast at the hotel.


    Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hegra is, along with Petra in Jordan, the best testimony to the Nabataean civilisation. There are more than a hundred richly decorated monumental tombs, which you will have the opportunity to visit in the morning.


    Lunch at the end of the tour.


    Saudi Arabia oblige, the present is blending with the future in the AlUla Valley. This breathtaking site is the setting for Desert X, one of the most prestigious open-air art exhibitions of our time. Works by famous and emerging land artists will bring nature, history and art into dialogue, appearing between oases and mirages. It’s hardly surprising that the valley has been renamed Wadi Al Fann: the “valley of the arts”. A daydream you’ll be able to experience that afternoon.


    Dinner followed by an evening in the old town of AlUla, where you will discover the night market and the El Jadida Arts Festival.


    Night at the hotel.

    DAY 6 – AlUla

    Breakfast at the hotel.


    Morning at leisure.


    After a stop to admire the Maraya by day, lunch at Princess Noura Farm, surrounded by palm trees.


    In the afternoon, continue your visit to Desert X in the Ashar Valley.


    Evening in Harrat to enjoy the breathtaking views.


    Night at the hotel.

    DAY 7 – AlUla / Paris

    Breakfast at the hotel.

    Transfer to the airport.
    Return flight (flight schedule not yet available).


    IMPORTANT: The order of visits and shows may be subject to change. The programme timetable is therefore also subject to change. Thank you for your understanding.

    Four Seasons Riyadh (*****) – 3 nights

    The Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh is a modern hotel located in Riyadh’s famous Kingdom Centre Tower. It features a swimming pool, a spa and elegantly decorated rooms with panoramic views of Riyadh.

    SHADEN RESORT (****) – 3 nights

    Located in the town of AlUla, the Shaden Resort tells 200,000 years of history in the heart of the desert, in a spectacular valley with palm trees. It features a garden with an outdoor swimming pool, as well as a gym and a sauna.

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