In a groundbreaking move to revolutionize Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector, the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) launched with us and our partner ARtGlass the Middle East’s first wearable XR tour, thrilling travelers from around the world to the ancient archaeological site of Hegra. The 2-hour experience combining Augmented and Virtual reality elements on transparent smartglasses emerges from the country’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan to sustainably host 100 million annual tourist visits by decade’s end.
Highlighting the kickoff of the Ancient Kingdoms Festival, the Hegra Alive experience transports tourists back in time to the heart of a thriving Nabataean civilization. Practically undisturbed for 2,000 years, Hegra boasts 111 monumental tombs and massive ceremonial spaces carved into solid rock. The immersive touring experience combines 3D and 360-degree visuals with compelling audio, enabling guests to explore the stunning landscape overlaid with interactive digital “magic.” With transparent lenses seamlessly blending the real and virtual worlds, visitors can simultaneously enjoy the natural beauty of Hegra while being immersed in new layers of its storied history. Visitors gain virtual access to otherwise restricted areas, brought to life through holograms of historic figures, digitally repositioned artifacts, and interactive stories. The tour reveals the secrets of this once mighty cosmopolitan civilization, which developed at the same time as the ancient Roman, Greek and Egyptian civilizations.