Three Michelin-Starred Chef Jason Atherton opens Maraya Social restaurant in AlUla

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Jason Atherton

AlUla, Saudi Arabia: AlUla, home to Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the oldest cities in the Arabian Peninsula is set to welcome its first signature fine-dining restaurant. English Chef and restaurateur Jason Atherton, who owns and runs three-Michelin-star restaurants across the world, will open Maraya Social on 27 October 2021.

The restaurant is located on the rooftop of the iconic-mirrored building with 360-degree views of stunning rock-strewn valleys and canyons of the Ashar Valley.

Jason Atherton said, “My team and I are so impressed by the natural beauty, history and culture of AlUla. I jumped at the chance to be one of the first permanent fine-dining venues in AlUla and be part of the exciting progress in the Kingdom. The beauty of the Ashar Valley, the native produce and the iconic Maraya architecture are all the ingredients we need for what is sure to be a sought-after destination dining experience.”

“AlUla has an amazing diversity of produce unique to the region and an incredible history and culture which I am excited to explore both in the landscape and in the menu,” said Chef Atherton.

Reflecting the architecture of Maraya and complementing the natural beautify of AlUla, the open-plan design puts comfort first featuring bespoke furniture and soft fabric materials including silk, cotton and rayon with colors that reflect its environment. The restaurant offers relaxing yet vibrant atmosphere during the day, and by nights, it will be low-lit to create an unforgettable dining experience under the bright stars.

The menu is sourced from seasonal fruits, vegetables and locally produced ingredients and features a selection of sharing plates, served with high-quality mocktails. The menu is designed to share and create a social environment for diners.

Maraya Social will be the newest addition to Jason’s portfolio of international restaurants and his first venture into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The restaurant will receive reservations through the website.

Phillip Jones, Chief Destination Management and Marketing Offices, Royal Commission for AlUla also welcomes the new addition to AlUla’s dining scene.

“Maraya Social is set to be a destination restaurant for Middle East and the world. We are delighted for AlUla to be the home of Chef’s first restaurant in Saudi Arabia. AlUla presents a unique opportunity both in terms of the historical setting as well as the untapped pantry of produce and flavours.”

“With new international and home-grown food and beverage brands flocking to AlUla this winter, and an exciting calendar of events, the opening of the Maraya Social complements our strategic plans to boost AlUla’s tourism infrastructure and become a favorite boutique cultural destination for visitors from the Kingdom and beyond,” said Jones.

About Jason Atherton:

Jason Atherton started out working alongside great chefs including Pierre Koffmann, Marco Pierre White, Nico Ladenis and Ferran Adria at el Bulli, before joining the Gordon Ramsay Holdings in 2001 and launching ‘Maze’, first in London and then another five globally.  In 2010 Jason launched his own restaurant company, Jason Atherton Ltd. His flagship restaurant ‘Pollen Street Social’ opened in April 2011 in Mayfair and was awarded a Michelin star within just six months of opening, alongside 5 AA Rosettes and no.3 in The Good Food Guide’s best UK restaurants. Since then, Jason’s ‘The Social Company’ has grown into a globally renowned restaurant group, with a portfolio of restaurants which include the Michelin-starred City Social, as well as Social Eating House, Little Social, The Betterment and Berners Tavern – named ‘the defining restaurant of the decade’. Alongside his London restaurants, Jason has also opened critically acclaimed restaurants in Shanghai, Dubai, St Moritz and his Michelin-starred restaurant, The Clocktower, in New York.

About AlUla:

Located 1,100 km from Riyadh, in North-West Saudi Arabia, AlUla is a place of extraordinary natural and human heritage. The vast area, covering 22,561km², includes a lush oasis valley, towering sandstone mountains and ancient cultural heritage sites dating back thousands of years to when the Lihyan and Nabataean kingdoms reigned.

The most well-known and recognised site in AlUla is Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. A 52-hectare ancient city, Hegra was the principal southern city of the Nabataean Kingdom and is comprised of more than 100 well preserved tombs with elaborate facades cut out of the sandstone outcrops surrounding the walled urban settlement.

Current research also suggests Hegra was the most southern outpost of the Roman Empire after conquering the Nabataeans in 106 CE.

In addition to Hegra, AlUla is home to a fascinating historical and archaeological sites such as: Ancient Dadan, the capital of the Dadan and Lihyan Kingdoms, which is considered one of the most developed 1st-millennium BCE cities of the Arabian Peninsula; thousands of ancient rock art sites and inscriptions at Jabal Ikmah; Old Town, a labyrinth of more than 900 mudbrick homes developed from at least the 12th century, and Hijaz Railway and Hegra Fort, key sites in the story and conquests of Lawrence of Arabia.

About Royal Commission for AlUla

The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) was established by royal decree in July 2017 to protect and safeguard AlUla, a region of outstanding natural and cultural significance in North-West Saudi Arabia. RCU is embarking on a long-term plan to develop and deliver a sensitive, sustainable transformation of the region, reaffirming it as one of the country’s most important archaeological and cultural destinations and preparing it to welcome visitors from around the world. RCU’s development work in AlUla encompasses a broad range of initiatives across archaeology, tourism, culture, education and the arts, reflecting the ambitious commitment to cultivate tourism and leisure in Saudi Arabia, outlined in Vision 2030.