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Huge Saudi Artwork Project Highlights Fragility of AlUla Heritage

Land artist David Popa’s ephemeral fresco symbolises the need to preserve and protect AlUla, and its 200,000 years of human history.

Scene Now Saudi

Huge Saudi Artwork Project Highlights Fragility of AlUla Heritage

The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has partnered with American artist David Popa to create an epic art piece grafted directly into the sands around the Tomb of Lihyan, Son of Kuza. The art project has been undertaken as the grand launch event of a broader campaign by the RCU called ‘I Care’, which aims to promote the careful conservation of Saudi Arabia’s ancient heritage by enriching public knowledge and awareness of AlUla’s 200,000 years of human history.

The earthy fresco, which takes the shape of two protective hands, is constructed around the iconic Tomb of Lihyan, Son of Kuza. This monument is located at Hegra, which was designated as Saudi Arabia’s first World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2008. Famed for his sustainable approach in creating vast, ephemeral pieces, artist David Popa has designed a vast symbol for the preservation of this historic and cultural gem.

“Working on this project has been an immense privilege,” artist David Popa tells SceneNowSaudi. “AlUla’s heritage is a treasure for the entire world.”

The vast display around the tomb has been constructed with exclusively natural elements, with earth of different colours and shades brought in from far and wide. It is one of Popa’s largest displays to date, and even its brief lifespan echoes the fragility of sites like these; the artwork will disintegrate naturally in a matter of weeks.

Beyond this artwork, the broader ‘I Care’ campaign is designed to raise awareness about the deep history of the area within the Kingdom and abroad. “The roots of Saudi culture and tradition can be traced back millennia, influenced by civilisations as diverse as the Nabataeans, Minaeans and Lihyanites,” Dr Abdulrahman Alsuhaibani, Executive Director of Archaeology, Conservation and Collections at RCU, says. “The campaign will help to deepen RCU’s connection with our community as we work to protect and celebrate our heritage so it can be enjoyed for generations to come.”


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