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AlUla, Wonder of Arabia

The “AlUla, Wonder of Arabia” exhibition opened at the West Wing of the Tower Gallery, Meridian Gate (Wu men) on January 6, and will run through March 22.

Co-organized by the Royal Commission for AlUla and the Palace Museum, with support from the French Agency for AlUla Development, the exhibition features over 230 exhibits that immerse visitors in the grandeur of AlUla’s desert landscapes, river valleys, and oases, alongside its rich historical and cultural legacy.

On the morning of January 5, the exhibition’s opening ceremony was held at the West Wing of the Tower Gallery in the Meridian Gate (Wu men) of the Palace Museum. The ceremony was presided over by Wang Yuegong, deputy director of the Palace Museum. Abdulrahman Altrairi, chief of communications and PR of the Royal Commission for AlUla, Simond de Galbert, first counselor at the French Embassy in China, and Lou Wei, executive deputy director of the Palace Museum, delivered speeches. The exhibition was officially opened by Wang Xudong, director of the Palace Museum, Xie Bing, deputy director of the National Cultural Heritage Administration, Abdulrahman Altrairi, and Simond de Galbert.

Guests included Ambassador Li Lianhe from the Department of West Asian and North African Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Xie Bing, deputy director of the National Cultural Heritage Administration, Xu Rong, deputy director of the Bureau of International Exchange and Cooperation of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and Du Haijiang, Party secretary and deputy director of the Palace Museum. Ambassadors and diplomatic representatives from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Palestine, Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait, as well as the French Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, representatives from the Royal Commission for AlUla and the French Agency for AlUla Development, and representatives from museums and the cultural circle in Beijing, also attended the opening ceremony.

China and Saudi Arabia sit at opposite ends of Asia. For a long time, West Asian civilization and East Asia civilization have played significant roles in shaping the world. The Silk Road, which connected Asia, Africa, and Europe, was forged by the combined efforts of the people of East Asia and West Asia, facilitating cultural exchanges across the region and even between Asia, Africa and Europe.

The exhibition “AlUla, Wonder of Arabia” tells the 7,000-year-old story of human settlement in AlUla, a city in the northwest of Saudi Arabia. Located 1,100 kilometers northwest of the capital city Riyadh, AlUla is a valley oasis in a vast desert. Its abundant water resources and extensive farmlands made it a haven for human life. AlUla was not only an important stop on the Arabian Peninsula’s Spice Route but also a key passage for pilgrims traveling to Mecca and Medina.

The site contains numerous archaeological sites dating back to 5200 BC, including the Neolithic period’s Mustatil, a rectangular structure, the ancient kingdoms of Dadan and Lihyan of northern Arabia, the city of Hegra during the Nabataean Kingdom and the Roman empire period, the Umayyad site of Qurh, and the old town of AlUla.

Today, AlUla remains vibrant and open to visitors worldwide. The exhibition is divided into four sections: “From Prehistory to the Bronze Age,” “Northern Arabian Kingdoms,” “Script and Language,” and “Modern AlUla,” illustrating how humans have adapted and transformed this harsh environment to create wonders.

The Palace Museum’s mission is to foster cross-cultural understanding and dialogue by showcasing ancient cultures and histories. This exhibition allows Chinese people and visitors from around the world to learn more about Saudi Arabia, strengthening friendship between the two nations. It also contributes to promoting the Belt and Road Initiative and building a global community of shared future.

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The Meridian Gate (Wu men)
2024-01-06 ~ 2024-04-11
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