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Giga Projects – Beacons of the Future

As part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the government is planning a number of ambitious landmark giga-projects and these are being designed to help transform the economy while highlighting the country’s cultural heritage and hospitality, economic ambitions and aspirations for environmental conservation. Over the next few pages RLI will put these unique and game-changing schemes under the microscope.

The Saudi Vision 2030 is a strategic framework to reduce the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism. Key goals of the vision include reinforcing economic and investment activities, increasing non-oil international trade, and promoting a softer and more secular image of the Kingdom.
The upcoming giga-projects in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are being designed to create new ecosystems and unlock new sectors and they are being heavily enabled by and promote cutting-edge technology. The developments follow on from earlier King Abdullah-era mega-projects, such as the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre, and the soon-to-be-completed King Abdullah Financial District. The goal of these ginormous developments is to open up and diversify the Saudi economy over the next decade and tap into the huge potential of the tourism market.

Giga Projects - Beacons of the Future 1
Amaala, Saudi Arabia
Developer: PIF

AlUla is an open-air museum that is the size of a country at 22,561km sq and it is guaranteed to take people’s breath away. Located in northwest Saudi Arabia, on the original incense road and pilgrimage route to Makkah, the historical land is steeped in the immense beauty of the natural world, alongside the dramatic splendour of human creations. Dubbed ‘The World’s Masterpiece’, AlUla is one of the oldest cities in the Arabian Peninsula and home to Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. A place of extraordinary human and natural heritage, guests to AlUla will be invited to come on a journey through a living museum of preserved tombs, sandstone outcrops, historic dwellings and monuments, both natural and human-made, that hold 200,000 years of largely unexplored human history. Visitors will feel humbled and alive in a landscape captured in time whilst taking delight in Mother Nature’s art, human ingenuity and the best in Arabian hospitality. A stunning selection of new properties will combine the best in comfort, sustainability and respect for the local vernacular. From boutique hotels to villas, guests will be delighted and surprised by AlUla’s unique and genuine hospitality and be treated to exceptional food and beverage offerings, making the site a pleasure for the taste buds as much as for the eyes. The project is a joint development between the French Agency Afalula and the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU).

Giga Projects - Beacons of the Future 2
Diriyah Square, Saudi Arabia Developer: DGDA

Inspired by Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and being developed by PIF, AMAALA will elevate the kingdom’s hospitality sector and pioneer the way luxury will be experienced in years to come. Hidden in plain sight on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s north western coast, AMAALA will be a place of self-transformation. Its three communities are easily accessible by air, road, and sea; and connected to the iconic marinas of the Mediterranean Sea. The scheme is divided between three main sections, Triple Bay, The Coastal Development and The Island. Triple Bay is set against a backdrop of mountains and sparkling seas – and running alongside a coastline of beautiful coves – this seascape will offer one of the world’s most exclusive wellness retreats supported by luxury resorts, recreational activities, a sports performance academy, and active sports club facilities including equestrian, polo, camel racing, falconry, golf, and tennis. The Coastal Development will play host to a dynamic programme of events from the global arts and cultural calendar, this coastline will be a gathering place for a community of connoisseurs. Set to become the epicentre of the arts in the Middle East, it will feature a contemporary art museum and cultural district. Finally, The Island offers Arabian-inspired botanical gardens showcasing works of art and sculpture, and breath-taking landscapes surrounding elegant private estate villas. Anchored by an artists’ village of working studios, artisan shops, exhibition and performance facilities, The Village will host an active arts community, supported by uber-luxury beachfront resorts and marinas.

Aseer Development Project
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began a tourism strategy on 28 September last year to develop the southwestern Aseer region with $13bn to attract more than 10 million visitors by 2030. Tourist attractions on Aseer’s mountain peaks will turn the province into a year-round destination, exploiting the tourism potential of its geographical and natural diversity, culture and heritage. In addition, it will provide new job opportunities, boost life quality and upgrade essential services and infrastructure in the region. Developer PIF plans a $3bn investment to build 2,700 hotel rooms, 1,300 residential units, and 30 commercial and entertainment attractions in Aseer by 2030. Currently, Aseer is known for its coffee, wheat and spice production. In line with Saudi Vision 2030, the area will transform into yet another example of modern tourism and hospitality. Under the theme of ‘The Arabian Highland’, the development is the latest in Saudi Arabia’s foray into sustainable tourism.

Giga Projects - Beacons of the Future 3
Neom, Saudi Arabia
Developer: PIF

Diriyah, a SAR 64bn development project, is a 7sq km mixed-use historic, culture and lifestyle destination. Diriyah will become the Kingdom’s historic and cultural heart, proudly showcasing to the world Saudi Arabia’s more than 300 years of history through an engaging and inspiring set of heritage, hospitality, education, retail and dining experiences for residents, tourists and frequent visitors. The new development north-west of Riyadh is centred around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of At-Turaif. So far 14 international hotel brands have been confirmed, and it is expected at completion there will be 38 in total. The new global landmark, Diriyah, will be created in a Najdi architectural style and showcase authentic Saudi Arabian environments. The historic town of Diriyah will be transformed into a global tourism destination with its main anchors rooted in its historic culture and heritage. It aims to be developed as an urban, mixed-use development inspired by the principles of both new urbanism and historical Najdi architectural typology. It will be home to more than twenty luxury and ultra-luxury hospitality venues offering genuine experiences that reflect the rich history and culture of Diriyah and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Ultimately, the destination will include museums, galleries, restaurants, retail experiences, public squares, hotels, multiple recreational spaces, residences, educational institutions and offices.

It’s an attempt to do something that’s never been done before and it’s coming at a time when the world needs fresh thinking and new solutions. Put simply, NEOM will not only be a destination, but a home for people who dream big and who want to be part of building a new model for sustainable living. Situated in the north-west of the country, the project is less focused on being a tourist destination and more as being a new vision of urban living. The location reaches to the border of Jordan where cool winds from the Red Sea mean that it is on average around 10°C cooler than surrounding areas and the rest of the GCC. One intention of the development is to redirect Saudi spend abroad into Neom. Saudis spend $15 billion per year on tourism, $12.5 billion on healthcare, $5 billion on education and another $5 billion on general investment abroad. Neom is slated to welcome the first inhabitants in 2024. In mid-September, about 150 design and construction companies visited the project for four days to explore potential partnerships and opportunities. The project features construction villages with labor communities of up to 30,000 workers, as well as offices, warehouses and construction service establishments. In late July, the NEOM Company and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology launched a joint project to build the world’s largest coral garden at Shushah Island in NEOM. The initiative is a perfect example of Saudi Arabia’s promise to protect 95 percent of the natural environment within NEOM. The Shushah Island Coral Reefscape, which spans 100 acres, will demonstrate coral reef restoration conservation in a changing climate. The project is expected to be completed in 2025.

Giga Projects - Beacons of the Future 4
Qiddiya, Saudi Arabia
Developer: PIF

The site is being designed as a disruptive destination recognised on the world stage as the home of the most innovative and immersive experiences. Their wide range of offerings will be based on five cornerstones: sports & wellness; nature & environment; parks & attractions; motion & mobility and arts & culture, which will make Qiddiya the capital of entertainment, sports and the arts, not just in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but of the world. Family-friendly theme, sports arenas suitable for international competitions, academies for sports and the arts, concert and entertainment venues, racetracks for motorsports enthusiasts as well as outdoor and adventure activities alongside nature and environment experiences are just some of the fun attractions being developed. Qiddiya will also include a variety of real estate options and community services. Qiddiya will support several goals of Vision 2030 which include driving economic diversification, job creation, fostering a start-up culture, driving youth and female empowerment and doubling household spending on domestic leisure and entertainment. In short, Qiddiya will be a place that enables the youth of Saudi Arabia to fulfill their ambitions. It will be a place where they enjoy, appreciate, aspire, advance and nurture their potential; a place that unlocks opportunities and new professional pathways to help build a more prosperous and progressive society.

The Red Sea Project
The world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism scheme, The Red Sea Project will be a luxury destination created around one of the world’s hidden natural treasures that will set new standards in sustainable development, pioneering a new relationship between luxury tourism and the natural environment that will put Saudi Arabia on the international tourism map. Offering a diverse array of seamless personalised experiences, The Red Sea Project will encourage visitors to explore the wonders and rich cultural heritage of Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Coast. The scheme is being developed over 28,000sq km along Saudi Arabia’s west coast including more than 90 islands. The destination also features mountain canyons, dormant volcanoes, and ancient cultural and heritage sites. The site will include hotels, residential properties, leisure, commercial and entertainment amenities, as well as supporting infrastructure that emphasizes renewable energy and water conservation and re-use. The project aims to welcome its first guests this year when the first hotels will open. The first phase, which includes 16 hotels in total, will be completed by 2023. Upon completion in 2030, the destination will comprise 50 hotels, offering up to 8,000 hotel rooms and more than 1,000 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites. The destination will also include luxury marinas, golf courses, entertainment, leisure facilities and an international airport.


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