A general view of Maraya concert hall in Alula Saudi Arabia.
Located in the northwestern province of AlUla, Saudi Arabia, Maraya Concert Hall has set a Guinness World Records™ title for largest mirrored building in the world. "Maraya" means "mirrors" in Arabic, and the “mirrored wonder” got this name due to the giant mirrors attached to its structure which reflect AlUla's breathtaking landscape.
This includes the Hegra region, which is the first historical site in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites.
The "Maraya" is a giant mirror cube, a silent and respectful building, a” site-specific landmark”, meaningful and elegant with intrinsic and extravagant simplicity, a true “Land-art Architecture”.
The extraordinary new façade of the Maraya Concert Hall was unveiled with a special ceremony held by the Royal Commission for AlUla during the second season of the Winter at Tantora Festival.
The concert hall can hold up to 500 seats and hosted leading and prominent international artists, including musician Omar Khairat and opera singer Andrea Bocelli. The festival began its artistic journey with the renowned singer Aziza Jalal, who surprised her fans with a return after a 35-year hiatus.
Located in Wadi Ashaar, near the volcanic freeway, The Maraya Concert Hall is highly equipped with the latest theatrical and operatic sound systems. The structure is cube shaped with the exterior walls covered entirely in mirrors that reflect the picturesque nature of AlUla. A landscape which has captivated creatives, artists and architects since the Nabataean civilisation and to the present day.
The external cladding displays 9,740 square metres of mirrors, which exceeds the minimum of 6,500 square metres. Commenting on the achievement, Amr Al Madani, CEO of the Royal Commission for AlUla, said, "AlUla is a cultural heritage to the world, and this step comes in fulfilment of AlUla's vision, to create a regional and global cultural centre. We have developed Maraya Concert Hall as a hub for world events, concerts, celebrations, gatherings, and business conventions. The mirrored hall is a global platform where nature, culture, and human heritage coexist in harmony.”
Al Madani added, "We are proud to celebrate the opening of Maraya Concert Hall, and we thank our partners, experts, engineers, and architects, who worked day and night to create this astounding monument in the heart of the marvelous desert environment of AlUla.”
Designer Florian Boje of Gio Forma said, "As evident in the architecture of the Nabataeans, Maraya Concert Hall was created utilising segmentation and [by] sculpting the blocks. This unique edifice makes us think about the unique landscape of the geological saga, the radical abstraction of the enchanting environment of AlUla, and the uncommon incursions for man in the natural landscape; the reflections give an overwhelming balance and a deep sense of the connection of human heritage with nature and its intertwining and harmonising together, which provides us with the responsibility of protecting our human culture that is combined with the exceptional nature of AlUla.”
The development of the Maraya Concert Hall came within the framework of the cultural and heritage statement of AlUla, which was recently issued and published by the Royal Commission for AlUla, inviting global arts and business communities to join the Royal Commission in a new cultural chapter in the rich history of AlUla.
The cultural and heritage vision of AlUla states, "The artistic mission of AlUla is clear, and [it] will remain the destination for artists to draw their inspiration from a site that highlights the monuments of historical civilisations.”
"What remains of great cultures is art and architecture. Successive civilisations have formed the cultural scene with their knowledge and experience, and AlUla will remain the artistic destination for artists to enhance a spirit of imagination and inspiration in their being, and the expression that constitutes the infrastructure of AlUla and its structures and daily life to enrich the encounters of the visitors.”
During the current season, the Winter Festival of Tantora witnessed a celebration of international events, including the "First Hegra Conference of Nobel Prize Laureates 2020," which was held in the city of AlUla from January 30 to February 1. Eighteen Nobel Peace Prize laureates in various categories like economics, literature, physics, chemistry, physiology, and medicine joined the event along with an elite group of intellectuals, politicians and social leaders from 32 countries around the world. They presented theses’ to meet the challenges affecting humanity and the world. The conference sought to make a significant impact and offer provisions to urgent global dilemmas, and the discussions aimed to provide precise solutions regarding the future of education, health, agriculture, and the world's economy.
The Winter at Tantora Festival offers a wide range of diverse experiences that cater to all tastes from all walks of life. The festival took place every weekend starting 19th December 2019, and until the 7th March 2020. Guests had the unique opportunity to visit the historical heritage sites before they are closed to the general public until October 2020 when AlUla will be open for tourist throughout the year.
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