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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

Saudi Arabia courts ultra-luxury travellers with Red Sea project

PIF will provide the initial funding for the luxury development and offer partnerships to the private sector at a later stage

Saudi Arabia is developing Amaala, a luxury destination on the northwestern coast of Saudi Arabia. Courtesy Amaala
Saudi Arabia is developing Amaala, a luxury destination on the northwestern coast of Saudi Arabia. Courtesy Amaala

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is launching an ultra-luxury project for international tourists, adding another mega development to the list of projects the sovereign wealth fund is planning for the Red Sea coast.

The fund will provide the initial funding for Amaala and has appointed hospitality industry veteran Nicholas Naples as the chief executive of the project, PIF said in a statement on Wednesday. As the project progresses, "attractive partnership and investment packages will be available for the private sector", PIF said, without specifying either the total cost of the development or the partnerships it will offer to the private investors.

“Our concept will provide a rich service offering that exceeds customers’ expectations by providing a comprehensive suite of services not commonly found in one location that is unique by all measures,” Mr Naples said. “The Amaala experience will be enhanced by its setting, spread across untouched natural sites.”

Saudi Arabia is developing Amaala, a luxury destination on the northwestern coast of Saudi Arabia. Courtesy Amaala
Saudi Arabia is developing Amaala, a luxury destination on the northwestern coast of Saudi Arabia. Courtesy Amaala

PIF, the kingdom’s main investment arm which holds stakes in local and international companies such as electric car maker Tesla, is central to Riyadh’s economic diversification agenda. The fund, which manages $250bn of assets, is building Neom, a $500bn (Dh1.8 trillion) futuristic business and industrial city, which extends into Egypt and Jordan. PIF's other development called The Red Sea Project includes a nature reserve and heritage sites on about 50 islands.

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Amaala will sit alongside Neom and the Red Sea Project within the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Natural Reserve, helping to establish a unique tourism ecosystem, PIF said.

The development will add 2,500 hotel rooms to the kingdom’s growing hotel sector and will feature 700 private residential villas along with a retail area with 200 outlets. Amaala will also feature an academy of the arts that aims to further develop young artists from Saudi Arabia and the broader region.

The 3,000 square kilometre development, which will be spread across the three sites, will have its own airport and target the top tier of global luxury travellers, PIF said.

“As envisioned in Vision 2030, Amaala – along with the other giga-projects - will support the diversification of Saudi Arabia’s leisure and tourism industry, while promoting cultural conservation, ecological preservation and sustainability,” PIF said.

Besides the three Read Sea projects, PIF is also developing Qiddiya, a vast entertainment resort being built on a 334 square kilometre site, a parcel two-and-a-half times the size of Disney World.

The project is an hour’s drive from capital Riyadh and will include a Six Flags theme park, water parks, motor sports, cultural events and vacation homes. It is expected to attract 1.5 million visitors annually when the first phase opens in 2022.