The Red Sea Development Company has received the approval of the board of directors for the project master plan.
The plan was developed in partnership with WATG and Buro Happold and included design concepts from some of the world’s most prominent architecture firms.
The first phase of the project, scheduled for completion in 2022, includes 14 luxury and hyper-luxury hotels providing 3,000 rooms across five islands and two inland resorts.
Phase one will also include yacht marinas, leisure and lifestyle amenities and an airport to serve the destination, as well as the necessary supporting logistics and utilities infrastructure.
The plan was informed by a series of wide-ranging environmental studies to ensure that the ecologically sensitive area is fully protected during and after development.
The final master plan, which preserves some 75 percent of the destination’s islands for conservation and designates nine islands as sites of significant ecological value, required several redesigns throughout the process to avoid potentially disrupting endangered species native to the area.
“The design concepts that we have presented to the board will provide visitors with a uniquely diverse, immersive experience while setting new standards in sustainable development, and positioning Saudi Arabia on the global tourism map,” said John Pagano, chief executive of the Red Sea Development Company.
“With the master plan approved, we are now identifying investors and partners who are interested in working with us on realising the objectives of the project and who share our commitment to enhance, not exploit, the natural ecosystems that make the destination so unique.”
The Red Sea Project is an integral component in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 strategy.
The project is expected to create up to 70,000 new jobs and to contribute as a much as US$ 5.3 billion to the nation’s GDP, by creating investment opportunities for the private sector and developing the kingdom’s tourism industry while preserving the nation’s precious cultural and environmental heritage.
The destination will be fully completed in 2030.
The approved master plan will steer the development of 22 of the 90 or more islands at the destination, providing up to 10,000 hotel rooms across island resorts, mountain retreats and desert hideaways.
The destination will also offer luxury residential properties and a wide range of commercial, retail and recreational facilities.
The master plan is underpinned by an extensive smart destination management system that will support a wide range of seamless, highly personalised products and services designed to appeal to the modern luxury traveller.
The system will also help to manage visitor flows to ensure that everyone who comes to the destination can enjoy an experience free of over-crowding and delays.
The Red Sea Development Company employed the world’s first destination-scale computer simulation techniques, created in Saudi Arabia, to assess the impact of development and future tourism on the environment.
The resulting plan now targets up to 30 per cent net increase in biodiversity over the next two decades compared to a “business as usual” scenario.
This amounts to a conservation outcome equivalent to designating the site as a Marine Protected Area.
Technology further underpins the destination’s sustainability initiatives, with a suite of sensors and monitoring devices in place to track and measure variations in environmental factors such as water salinity, temperature, visibility and tidal flows among others.
“The leadership of the Kingdom has shown great foresight in its insistence on balanced development of this pristine destination,” added Pagano.
“Our plan not only envisions a stunning luxury destination, it also takes tangible, measurable steps to enhance that destination for future generations to enjoy and cherish.”