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AL-ULA, Saudi Arabia: Trudging up a caramel-hued cliff pocked with ancient tombs, guide Bandar al-Anazi gazed at the stunning view: a windswept desert landscape of pre-Islamic ruins at the center of Saudi-Franco preservation efforts. Al-Ula, an area rich in archaeological remnants, is seen as a jewel in the crown of future Saudi attractions as the austere kingdom prepares to issue tourist visas for the first time – opening up one of the last frontiers of global tourism.'Gift to the world'A helicopter tour of the area revealed a desert landscape that appeared like the top of a foamed latte, dotted with a variety of heritage sites and towering maze-like rock formations.At one archaeological site called Al-Khoraiba, Anazi pointed at a bereft cistern.At least one large museum is planned to be built in Al-Ula.Al-Ula is expected to fully open to global tourists within three to five years, launching the site as what Saudi officials describe as "a gift to the world".There is currently scant information in Saudi history textbooks about Al-Ula.
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