First look: Inside Jason Atherton’s new Maraya Social

A look inside the most talked-about new restaurant opening in AlUla

Ready for a restaurant worthy of hitting the road for? You’ll have stars in your eyes when you visit AlUla’s new restaurant Maraya Social. Not only does the restaurant boast views of the starry night, but the food is created by none other than chef Jason Atherton, whose restaurants have garnered numerous Michelin stars.

In the heart of AlUla, you’ll find Atherton’s most ambitious restaurant. With restaurants in London, Hong Kong and Dubai, this is his first in Saudi Arabia and we got a sneak peek inside Maraya Social, which only recently opened its doors to the public.

Inside Maraya Social

The restaurant is located in the show-stopping venue, Maraya Concert Hall, a mirrored building shimmering in the middle of the desert, which reflects the surrounding beauty, from the night’s sky to the soaring rocks. A shiny 9,740 square metres of mirrors cover the outer wall – that’s a whole lot of sparkle, especially at night time.

The venue is like a box of tricks, shifting moods from one room to another and creating illusions with its reflections. When you first enter the building, you’re struck by the sheer scale – the ceilings are so high, you feel like you’re in an futuristic airport and the restaurant is the swanky club lounge.

Maraya Social
Atherton’s restaurant is located inside the striking, mirrored Maraya Concert Hall

Upstairs is where the magic happens. When the lift door open and you are welcomed into Maraya Social, get ready for something special. Fashionable and opulent, the restaurant has a long marble bar, white tablecloths, gold lamps and emerald green seats, which are accentuated by the plants hanging like chandeliers. 

It’s all about the attention to detail. AlUla grows its own produce, from citrus to moringa. Look closely and you’ll see cirtuses on the bar counter and moringa scented oil in the bathroom.

Maraya Social

Speaking at the opening, Atherton shared, “We get asked to do many restaurants luckily and we hand-pick them now. When this came and we got sent the initial video of what it was going to be like, we were asked “would you like to open a restaurant here and would you like to think about it?” I said “not really, where do I sign?” And here we are.”

“The vision for the restaurant is quite simple. We want it to be a place where people can come and have special occasions, family events, friends and hang out. It’s called social for a reason, that’s our brand, as I come from humble beginnings from the north of England. Growing up my family would always go to the social, and I thought it would be cool to open this multi-million pound project and I felt this connection to the word social,” he added.

What impressed us the most, however, was the outdoor space, where you’ll want to do what Atherton wants: socialise. Look up during the day and you’ll see the nearby rock formations soaring into the sky, look up at night and you’ll see the stars twinkling away.

Once you’re on the terrace, tread carefully up another set of glass stairs for a spectacular view from the rooftop. There’s no need to wish on any stars, as your culinary dreams will definitely come true at this restaurant

Maraya Social


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