Contrasting Cultures Collide at Saudi Arabia's Luxury Desert Retreat

Habitas AlUla, a luxury desert retreat in Saudi Arabia, offers a unique blend of modern amenities and traditional Middle Eastern hospitality, reflecting the country's efforts to boost tourism and cultural exchange.

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Hadeel Hashem
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Contrasting Cultures Collide at Saudi Arabia's Luxury Desert Retreat

Contrasting Cultures Collide at Saudi Arabia's Luxury Desert Retreat

Habitas AlUla, a luxury desert retreat situated in Saudi Arabia's Ashar Valley, offers guests a unique blend of modern amenities and traditional Middle Eastern hospitality. The resort boasts a range of features, including non-smoking rooms, a fitness center, free WiFi, and a terrace, along with a restaurant and bar. Each accommodation unit comes equipped with a balcony, air conditioning, and a safe.

Guests have praised the resort's mesmerizing views, friendly staff, and spellbinding art installations, describing it as a "once-in-a-lifetime experience" with a "mystical welcome ceremony." The resort is said to enhance the overall Al-Ula experience, adding to the "mysticism of the surrounding" area.

However, the resort's location in Saudi Arabia, a conservative Muslim country, has led to an intriguing contrast of cultures. While guests can enjoy luxurious amenities and even bikinis by the pool, many local women still adhere to traditional dress codes, including wearing burqas in public. This juxtaposition of modern luxury and traditional values has sparked conversations about the changing face of tourism in the Middle East.

Why this matters: The opening of Habitas AlUla and other luxury resorts in Saudi Arabia reflects the country's efforts to diversify its economy and boost tourism. As more Western tourists visit the Kingdom, the interaction between contrasting cultures and values will likely continue to be a topic of discussion and fascination.

Saudi Arabia is not alone in seeing a surge in tourism. Neighboring Jordan experienced a 90.7% increase in visitors in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same period last year, with over 1.47 million tourists. The Kingdom is also offering a range of luxury and sustainable desert getaways for the Eid Al-Fitr break, providing a mix of high-end accommodations, cultural experiences, and opportunities for exploration in its diverse landscapes.

As Saudi Arabia continues to open up to international tourism, resorts like Habitas AlUla will play a key role in showcasing the country's unique blend of modern luxury and traditional culture. While the contrast between burqas and bikinis may be striking, it also represents the dawn of a transformative period of cultural exchange and understanding in the region.

Key Takeaways

  • Habitas AlUla offers luxury desert retreat in Saudi Arabia with modern amenities.
  • Guests praise resort's views, staff, and art, describing it as "once-in-a-lifetime".
  • Resort's location in conservative Saudi Arabia creates contrast of modern luxury and tradition.
  • Saudi Arabia aims to diversify economy and boost tourism through luxury desert resorts.
  • Jordan sees 90.7% increase in visitors in Q1 2023, offering luxury desert getaways.