Uncovering the equestrian village in the AlUla desert

الكشف عن قرية الفروسية في صحراء العلا

AECOM International has unveiled plans to create a new equestrian village featuring low-rise,

sand-coloured units in the AlUla desert in Saudi Arabia.

The project was called “The World-Class Equestrian Village”, commissioned by the Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate.

It will be a comprehensive and sustainable equestrian village as part of the strategy of the Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate to develop the equestrian sector in AlUla Province in 2019 in northwestern Saudi Arabia.


Uncovering the equestrian village in the AlUla desert


The project will be led by RCU’s Asset Planning and Development Department led by Vice President Ashraf Mahmoud alongside Ken Flock and Ali Khashab.

It called Moderate Equestrian Village, is being led by AECOM lead designer Erik Behrens and his team.

The concept design scheme was developed by AECOM in collaboration with the Saudi Equestrian Federation,

the RCU Planning Committee and Head of Equestrian Development Laura Richardson.


Uncovering the equestrian village in the AlUla desert


Design features a series of low-rise units – made in sand and light earth tones – inspired by the natural context of the AlUla region.

The 285-hectare complex will contain two arenas, including a 5,000-seat arena and a 1,400-seat arena.

For events from dressage to concerts, lawn ball, sandball, and endurance venues,

including 600-seat, 400-seat, and 600-seat venues.

Furthermore, it will include visitor facilities, two stable complexes,

accommodating 740 horses, and accommodation and retail facilities for event participants and workers.



The Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate said:

“These pioneering facilities will make Al Modela a leading international platform for equestrian events.

It will give riders access to the Wadi El Fan landscaped arts and sculpture area.”

Eric Behrens, architect and creative director at AECOM, said:

“The site has stunning natural features and our design vision was to develop

a memorable and inspiring equestrian village fully immersed in this unique natural context.”



Design features

The company implements sustainable, upscale designs that emulate the natural context of the region

as well as its cultural and equestrian heritage.

Design team takes cues from the light earth tones of the desert floor and the dark tones of the sandstone canyon walls for the project’s architectural palette.

The nucleus of the Equestrian Village is the central core of the village with its common field and oasis-like cultivation located alongside the natural valley stream.

All the individual equestrian venues – competition platforms – are grouped around,

It is discreetly embedded in the undulating sand dunes,

providing direct access from the village and unobstructed views of the magnificent rock formations.

Behrens explained, “The village’s design is inspired by local architecture, with its narrow streets, squares, and spaces.

It aims to provide all guests with an authentic Alola experience albeit in a more modern expression.”

“On the other hand, the spaces blend into the sloping terrain with tiered porch seating that reflects the cascading nature of the surrounding land.”

“Their thin horizontal roofs float across the terraces to allow stunning views

through the lounge levels and lend the architectural composition an elegant lightness.

Their surfaces gently undulate within their plain to make them blend better with the surrounding terrain and accommodate their natural shape,” Behrens added.

AECOM will use a sand-coloured color and texture for the terraces and roofs to fully blend into the context of the site and create a sense of integration with its terrain.

While the interior walls and partitions will be made of rammed earth, the design team

will use traditional construction methods and local materials.

“All horse facilities will be carefully designed to ensure the well-being of the horses.

The stables will have an undulating roof design with plenty of daylight to create a tranquil atmosphere,” AECOM said.


Uncovering the equestrian village in the AlUla desert
AlUla Equestrian Village


Village facilities

“The training barn will include Seawalker baths, treadmills and a vibration plate.

The 6,000 square meter veterinary clinic will provide services including X-rays, MRI,

embryo transfer, emergency and routine surgery,

Hematology, parasitology, treatments for stem cell and plasma rehabilitation. The company added: “And laser surgery.”

Al Maqala Equestrian Village in AlUla is expected to attract tourists interested in equestrian experiences in line with the principles of tourism and sustainability.

All organic waste and food waste found on site will be recycled to produce fertilizer to support the local agriculture sector.

The water used in the stables’ cooling system will also be recycled.

Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate explained: “As a unique and multi-competition center,

The Equestrian Village will put AlUla on the global map of equestrian sports,

with international competitions broadcast to up to 45 million people around the world.”

“The Royal Commission AlUla’s equestrian sector will make AlUla a must-visit destination for any horse enthusiast and a regional reference point for equestrian activities.

The equestrian sector will achieve many of the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the Master Plan for a Journey Through Time of the Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate, including economic diversification.

According to the Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate,

“The Equestrian Village will contribute to the economic diversification of AlUla Governorate by creating new career paths for residents.

The Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate’s partnership will work with the Association for Training and Social Work for Training Courses (AFASEC),

To train Saudi youth and develop their technical qualifications for specialized work in the equestrian sector.

Furthermore, the Royal Commission for AlUla is developing a partnership with the Saint-Tropez Polo Club,

Aiming to play a major role in shaping the equestrian experience in AlUla,

Saint Tropez experts provide insights and technical support in equestrian management and development.

The partnership will include managing the polo club, organizing tournaments,

managing horses and developing equestrian facilities.


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