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Hegra Saudi Arabia's first UNESCO World Heritage Site


© Royal Commission for AlUla

In 2008, UNESCO proclaimed Mada'in Salih as a site of patrimony, becoming Saudi Arabia's first World Heritage Site. It was chosen for its well-preserved remains from late antiquity, especially the 131 monumental rock-cut tombs, with their elaborately ornamented façades, of the Nabataean Kingdom.


Hegra, or Mada'in Saleh, is an archaeological site located in Al Ula. Once home to an ancient civilization, the site was the kingdom's southernmost and largest settlement after Petra. Visitors can marvel at the remnants of the lost civilisation and natural beauty of the surrounding landscape.

It features well-preserved monumental tombs with decorated facades dating from the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD. The site also features some 50 inscriptions of the pre-Nabataean period and some cave drawings. Al-Hijr bears a unique testimony to Nabataean civilization. With its 111 monumental tombs, 94 of which are decorated, and water wells, the site is an outstanding example of the Nabataeans’ architectural accomplishment and hydraulic expertise.


Outstanding Universal Value

The archaeological site of Al-Hijr is a major site of the Nabataean civilisation, in the south of its zone of influence. Its integrity is remarkable and it is well conserved. It includes a major ensemble of tombs and monuments, whose architecture and decorations are directly cut into the sandstone.

It bears witness to the encounter between a variety of decorative and architectural influences (Assyrian, Egyptian, Phoenician, Hellenistic), and the epigraphic presence of several ancient languages (Lihyanite, Thamudic, Nabataean, Greek, Latin).

It bears witness to the development of Nabataean agricultural techniques using a large number of artificial wells in rocky ground. The wells are still in use.

The ancient city of Hegra/Al-Hijr bears witness to the international caravan trade during late Antiquity.



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