Royal Commission for AlUla

A Pop-Up Oasis

October 2019 - Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA) in Paris

Hidden away for centuries, AlUla, Saudi Arabia, is poised to become a landmark destination. It is an immense region with an exceptional natural and cultural heritage, such as the ancient capital of Hegra and over 100 tombs carved into rock.

In October 2019, an exhibition to present AlUla’s treasures opened at the Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA) in Paris. Havas Events, the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) and the IMA planned an inauguration for 500 guests, including members of the Saudi royal family, the culture ministers of France and Saudi Arabia, and personalities from the worlds of archaeology, culture and media.

In the afternoon, a press conference introduced journalists to the little-known secrets of AlUla and revealed the RCU’s accomplishments in carefully opening the site to the world.

Afterwards, a delegation of VIPs received a private visit of the show, then joined a cocktail party in a custom-built tent surrounded by palm trees. Both traditional and contemporary, the setting emulated the golden sandstone and rose-tinted colours of AlUla. Lanterns hung on the walls, and one beautiful tree inside the tent was reflected by mirrors for endless perspectives. Guests listened to live music and tasted delicacies from France and Saudi Arabia.

We placed a stage between monolithic structures evoking the tombstones of AlUla. Graphic lighting projected onto them changed throughout the evening, like sunlight on stone. When speakers took the stage, the effect was of a starry sky on a desert night. And when the delegation exited the tent for an official photo, we shone an enormous image of the majestic Qasr al-Farid tomb onto the façade of the IMA.

This breathtaking event lasted for one unforgettable evening. Then, like a desert mirage, it disappeared.