Published on 03rd August 2022
The Red Sea Project is one of the largest tourism mega projects undertaken by the royal government of Saudi Arabia. Developed and operated by The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), a subsidiary fully owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the master plan for the project includes the development of a luxury marina, leisurely villas, a coastal village, the Red Sea International Airport on the west coast of the kingdom.
The Red Sea Project's goals include promoting domestic and foreign tourism and establishing partnerships with top-tier global firms. One of the project's main objectives is to raise investment from domestic, GCC, and global investors.
Furthermore, the project is a strategic plan to present investment and employment prospects in the kingdom's untapped sectors like construction and infrastructure.
The Red Sea Project is located in Tabuk Province of North Western Saudi Arabia, where another megaproject - The Neom Project, is undergoing construction. Situated between the cities of Umluj and Al Wajh, the project will spread across 28000 km² upon completion.
The location of the project seems ideal for several reasons. Firstly. the Red Sea coast has been untouched by tourism. Thus, it presents a pristine destination for unspoiled islands, premium beaches, mountain resorts, desert landscapes, and dormant volcanoes.
Being situated in the conjunction of Asia, Europe, and North Africa, the destination can be reached within 10-12 hours from several international destinations once the Red Sea Airport is commissioned. In terms of foreign passengers footfall, this project can stand parallel with other popular tourist destinations in the MENA (Middle East & North Africa) region like Cairo, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi.
The Red Sea Project, one of the key projects under the Saudi Vision 2030, aims to promote Regenerative Tourism in the middle east region on an unprecedented scale. Once fully completed in 2030, The Red Sea Project will boast 48 hotels with 8,000 rooms, 1300 residential properties, 6 inland sites, and 22 sustainably developed islands and contribute to enhancing the Saudi GDP by USD 5.9 billion.
The whole project aims to utilize energy sources like solar and wind for the sustainable development of the entire project site. Extensive works are also being carried out to preserve the natural resources such as coral reefs, dormant volcanoes, and green and hawksbill turtle species found exclusively on the red sea coast.
The Red Sea International Airport will be a gateway to the project. The airport’s location is a major advantage as 70% of the global population can reach the Red Sea destination within 8-10 hours.
Looking at the strategic importance of the airport, the TRSDC awarded the contract to a JV of Nesma & Partners Contracting Co. Ltd and Almabani General Contractors. Both companies have been associated with developing similar projects in the region.
The architectural design for the airport was given by Fosters and Partners. As part of the design scope, the airport will have a 3,700 meters runaway, a Seaplane Runway, taxiways, Navigation and Control Center, Aerodrome Ground Lighting, helipads, and other necessary infrastructure.
The 100-hectare Landscape Nursery will be one of the largest in the Middle East, with over 15 million plants. The contract to develop this nursery went to a joint venture between Nesma Trading Company (KSA) and Professional Landscape Company (UAE).
John Pagano, CEO of the Red Sea Development Co, says the development to be challenging given the unique characteristics of the Red Sea zone. However, by selecting native species of plants, the nursery can cut down on higher maintenance costs and water dependence.
Furthermore, the nursery will see the use of precise irrigation control methods to reduce the consumption of RO water. Once phase one of the Red Sea Project is fully developed, treated wastewater can be used for irrigation.
Coral Bloom will be a chain of 11 luxury hotels on Shurayrah island. The designer, Foster + Partners, took expensive inspiration from local flowers and corals while designing the Coral Bloom so that it can blend in with the natural surroundings while creating an unmatched luxury experience. The developers used low-impact green construction materials to preserve the island's pristine environment.
A 73-room hyper luxury resort has been planned on Sheybarah Island to turn the farthest island in the Red Sea archipelago into one of the most resplendent tourist spots. The resort will have a mirror finish using a highly reflective stainless-steel skin design. Moreover, the floating orbs will reflect the colors and surface of both the ocean and sky throughout the day to enhance the visual appeal for the guests.
Foster + Partners was awarded the contract to develop the Red Sea International Airport and the Coral Bloom.
A joint venture of Nesma Trading Company (KSA) and Professional Landscape Company (UAE) was awarded the contract to develop the Landscape Nursery.
Killadesign got the contract to develop the luxury resort on Sheybarah island.
Japanese firm Kengo Kuma & Associates got the contract to design 100 overwater and inland villas on Ummahat Islands.
PIF, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, invested seed funding for the project, with subsequent plans to raise the investments from various private and institutional investors from around the world.
The project’s first phase is slated to be completed in 2023, with 5 islands and 2 inland sites fully developed along with 16 hotels and 3000 rooms ready to host visitors.
The project’s second phase is scheduled to be completed by 2030, aligning with the Saudi Vision 2030.
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