The Red Sea Project, envisioned as an uber-luxurious tourist destination, is a part of Saudi Arabia’s broader strategy to reduce the country’s dependence on oil and fortify its tourism sector by 2035. This project will complement the newly opened heritage site, AlUla, and smart city Neom in the country.
According to John Pagano, CEO of the Red Sea Development Company, the Red Sea Project seeks to not just preserve the natural and cultural wealth of the region, but also enhance it.
The multi-billion dollar project is spread across 28,000 sqkm of land on Saudi Arabia’s west coast, between the cities of Um Luj and Al Wajh, and includes an archipelago of over 90 islands and lagoons.
The Red Sea Project aims to have developed five islands with 16 resorts offering upto 3,000 rooms by 2022.
Upon completion, it will comprise 50 resorts with 8,000 rooms, 1,300 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites, plus marinas, commercial and entertainment amenities and supporting infrastructure.
The project is expected to generate around 70,000 jobs, 35,000 of which will be onsite.
The Red Sea Project is deemed to have the potential to cater to varied experiences, from heritage tours in the desert to dives among coral reefs. Its terrain varies from islands with azure waters to desert panoramas, canyons and dormant volcanoes.
The site also holds a lot of historical significance as it was once part of the Old Silk Route and the pilgrimage route from Egypt to the holy cities of Mekkah and Medina.
Devised in collaboration with multi-disciplinary design firm WATG and Buro Happold, the development plan prioritises sustainability and technology such as AI, virtual reality and big data.
A futuristic international airport will connect the Red Sea Project with the rest of the world. The airport building’s design, by Forster + Partners, has been influenced by the surrounding landscape and uses shaded areas and natural ventilation. It will include facilities for seaplanes and helicopters as well.
While Pagano expects the destination to attract around 300,000 visitors annually by the end of the first phase of development, the plan is to cap the total number of tourists at 800,000 to one million annually once the project is completed by 2030.