Written by By, Barbara Souza, CNN Singapore
Dubai’s richest residents have been known to pay big bucks for a one-of-a-kind “WAM” address — that’s How Much? Marked on a map like a sports car.
But the newest member of the club, in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia , is one of the world’s rarest — to actually exist.
Al Ula is the world’s largest un-documented archeological site — archeologists don’t yet know how big it is, how old it is, or what its civilization was like. And that’s fine with its owners.
Lucky travelers can now have lunch with a “diamond king” or ride the Dubai metro, while dodging sabre-toothed tigers (though not without paying the appropriate passage fee).
“All the private abra rides, heli rides and camel safaris are the happiest in the world,” says Rob O’Carroll, chairman of Holidays in Arabia, which offers trips to Al Ula. “Unsurprisingly, that’s one of the reasons we’ve signed up to offer tours to the ancient city.”
But there’s more to Al Ula than its prehistoric mangrove-lined tidal lake and primitive citadel. The UNESCO World Heritage site is also home to spectacular desert vistas and the remains of the “Fountain of Inventions,” a mirror-like structure dating to 4,000 years ago.
Unique and hidden
For those who manage to squeeze a trip to the city out of their busy schedules, only a portion of Al Ula is open to the public.
At the Al Ula National Archaeological Museum, visitors can find authentic sandals, tools and spears carved from blocks of quartz — rare pieces of property from around the world.
Other attractions include “The Out of This World” — a life-size model of what Saudi Arabia would’ve looked like 10,000 years ago, which the company came up with after a major excavation of the area.
“Parts of it look very much like it was planned for a movie set, or augmented reality,” says O’Carroll.
Many of the stones shaped into miniatures of head, chest and trunk were local during the Neolithic era.
But why the hell do we still find giant phalluses on the planet?
“That would probably not be wise to exhibit,” says O’Carroll, adding: “Whoever invented it didn’t tell us.”
Cost to explore
For those who want to take in the sights in person, trips start at $35 for a three-hour cruise through the Masjid Al Ula desert.
Hang out around the runway of the mammoth Cenok Tiara — a UNESCO site that is covered in headdresses and elaborately carved scenes from Egyptian culture — for a fun selfie.
Or take a private hike into the “Golden Gated Reservation,” which offers breath-taking views and might be the most exclusive experience in the country.
Also, when you return, try not to drop the kiddies into the dish so you can enjoy the ride on a coaster.