In the middle of the Saudi Arabian desert there is a magical place, known as ‘little Petra’ that I had the privilege of inaugurating. It is called Al’ula, it finds its main settlement in Hegra, more often known by the name of its most famous tomb, Mada’in Salih.
At the center of the settlement, with a very specific sense and meaning, is Maraya, the theater built on the site through an immense mirror that reflects the surrounding landscape, thus ending up disappearing. From the theater, conceived by Florian Boje by Giò Forma and created by Black Engineering, the Grounbreaking Ceremony began, created with the hybridization of different arts and disciplines, including theater, ted talk, opera. At the center of the scene, drowned in universes visuals made with immersive video technologies, Vincent Cassel live, carried the guests present and the thousands connected in a three-dimensional journey divided into two parts. The first told of the “timelessness” that permeating sensation that is really felt in the site and evoked the historical roots of the settlement. The second part talked about complementary projects, from the invisible resort in the rocks designed by the star architect Jean Nouvel, to the natural reserve for the protection of the local ecosystem, up to a large schoolarship initiative, which provides many scholarships to allow young people Saudis to study abroad and then return to manage the site. The Ceremony ended with the display of the natural environment, revealed trough video screens automation, like a transformer: how future links to heritage. Maraya will host many festival with worldwide top artists.