Fondly known as Little Petra thanks to the distinct architectural similarity with its neighbouring rose red city of the same name, Al Beida also translates as ‘The White One’ due to the paler coloured stone from which the ancient Nabatean city is carved.
Once an important stop on the trading route for caravans on their journey between Arabia and the Mediterranean, Al Beida was established by the Nabateans in the 1st century AD, as a commercial hub and a centre of agriculture.
Unlike Petra, Al Beida is a much smaller and more accessible area, easily explored and discovered on foot, without the busloads of tourists who descend upon Petra each day. Although smaller in size, Al Beida is made up of an equally fascinating collection of tombs, water cisterns, familiar carved facades and houses, temples, stairways, including – perhaps most impressively – one of the only Nabatean painted interiors to have survived the ages. Excellent views out across the wadi and Petra can be seen at the top of the rock cut stairs towards the end of the Siq.
Today the area is home to the Amareen Bedouin who are attracted to the area because of the fertile land which is excellent for farming. Famous for their generosity and hospitality, don’t be surprised if these native tribesmen and women offer you a cup of tea as you explore the nooks, crannies, alleys and plateau’s of their spectacular homeland.