Saudi Arabia has finally seen another opportunity to generate more income, other than relying upon all their riches in oil. This time, they will strengthen their tourism sector to attract more earnings in the country. In September 2019, the Kingdom started issuing the first batch of travel visas to anyone who wants to visit the nation for reasons beyond business or religion. They can now tour some of the country’s historical sites, including the mysterious ancient city called Hegra.
Historical accounts described Hegra as a former thriving trade route located in the desert of Saudi Arabia. Nowadays, it is considered a major historical site that is very significant to the Arabian region. Because the government officially decided to start accepting visitors, historians, and archeologists in the site, more people will finally get the chance to marvel at the breathtaking architecture.
An ancient community called Nabateans established the Hegra. They were a nomadic group known for conceptualizing and building various structures in the most barren and unwelcoming locations. The society managed to build a city in a dry desert during its existence.
Hegra managed to prosper and thrive due to the ingenuity of the people who established it. The Nabateans also became extremely rich and successful after forging a trade route to other countries like Egypt and Jordan. This route allowed the transportation of various goods like cotton, sugar, and peppercorn. For centuries, the merchants of the city turned very wealthy due to the expertise in the trading industry.
According to reports, the civilization in Hegra existed between the 4th century BC then fell around the 1st century AD after the Roman Empire conquered it and other regions like Israel and Syria.
Ironically, another Nabatean settlement in Petra, Jordan, also has the same architectural features as Hegra. It has over 600 tombs that are often visited by as many as one million tourists annually. Hegra might also have the same architectural integrity and aesthetics as Petra, but the world was kept in the dark about it because the government of Saudi Arabia only allowed researchers from the country to study and excavate the ancient kingdom. After lifting the restrictions, an Arabian team is now working with a group from France to begin the excavation of Hegra.
Historians, archeologists, and other experts worldwide have high hopes that the new access granted by the Arabian government to Hegra could encourage a new level of “intellectual curiosity” in more people. They should aspire to know more about the society that established the amazing tombs.
There are limited reports about who the Nabateans are since they did not leave any written evidence about their culture. Scholars only relied on second-hand information from the Romans and ancient Greeks to describe the lost civilization.
While travelling to Saudi Arabia to visit Hegra might be complicated today due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the historical site will soon welcome tourists from different parts of the world once the borders open up to leisure tourism in the near future.