The world’s first “Museum in the Sky” is a joint collaboration between AlUla and SAUDIA Airlines, to highlight the significance of AlUla as a living museum, with only a small fraction of archaeological sites identified currently being investigated.
The flight took off from Riyadh to AlUla on the 4 November 2021. Onboard the flying museum, a replica collection of artefacts discovered in AlUla during excavations by archaeologists revealed some of the mysteries of AlUla’s ancient civilizations. SAUDIA also used the opportunity to launch their new In-Flight Entertainment System (IFE), Discover Saudi Arabia, on which passengers were encouraged to watch the Discovery Channel documentary movie – Architects of Ancient Arabia – a 2021 release full-length documentary movie produced by PowderHouse revealing that some of human civilization’s first building blocks were set in place in AlUla.
An introduction to the documentary was provided by Archaeologist, Dr. Rebecca Foote, the Director of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Research at The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU). As well as introducing the documentary that she appeared in, Rebecca offered an explanation about the artefact museum pieces and passengers had an opportunity to ask questions.
Dr. Rebecca Foote said: “There is an extraordinary volume of work ongoing in AlUla by both local and international archaeological teams, and yet we are only just beginning to understand the complexity of AlUla’s past. AlUla is a true hidden gem in the Arabian Peninsula, and we are slowly revealing its secrets. I am looking forward to sharing more about our work to the passengers onboard SAUDIA’s Museum in the Sky.”
Kerrie McEvoy, Channel Director, Discovery Channel, Europe, Middle East & Africa said: “We are delighted that Architects of Ancient Arabia will be displayed onboard SAUDIA IFE system, we aim to serve our passionate audience of superfans around the world with content that inspires, informs and entertains. This was a special project for Discovery, and AlUla is a special place with untouched desert and some of the most stunningly well-preserved evidence of ancient civilizations. We hope that all SAUDIA passengers will enjoy the movie during their flight times.”
Said Phillip Jones, Chief Destination Management and Marketing Officer at RCU: “Museum in the Sky is providing a true connection back to AlUla as a living museum and the significance of the archaeological work we do in AlUla, which we believe is the biggest archaeological program in the world right now. We are honored to work with SAUDIA and to welcome these passengers and all those who are planning visits over the next few months to discover more of AlUla’s living history.”
From SAUDIA Group, Khaled Tash, Vice President of Corporate Communication said: “As the national flag carrier and Wings of Vision 2030, it is a privilege to showcase heritage sites and hidden gems of the Kingdom. We have created a dedicated channel in our In-Flight Entertainment System to do just that and to display this beautifully produced documentary by the Discovery Channel.
Broadening our partnership with the Royal Commission for AlUla, we are creating a ‘Museum in the Sky’ experience to AlUla that brings its rich heritage to life on board SAUDIA. We are eager to promote AlUla globally as an unmissable tourist destination and bring the world to AlUla.”
AlUla is offering a wide range of all-year-round and seasonal activities to welcome both domestic and international visitors over the coming months.
Guests on the Museum in the Sky had the opportunity to book some of the first tickets to the new Hegra After Dark experience. This new progressive evening event in the World Heritage Site welcomed guests to enjoy the silence and have a taste of AlUla with light refreshments served in a candlelit setting, enjoy the popular living immersion theatre performance, Queen Shuqailath, and end with a stargazing experience surrounded by the stunning Nabataean works of art.