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Master plan approved for new Saudi eco-tourism mega project

Saudi Arabia, January 23, 2019

The master plan for a project to develop 22 islands in the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia has been approved, with phase one scheduled for completion in 2022.

The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), the developer of the tourism mega project, said the master plan includes 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 supporting logistics and utilities infrastructure, a statement said.

It added that the master plan was completed following a series of 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, CEO of TRSDC.

“With the master plan approved, we are now identifying investors and partners who are interested in working with us on realizing 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 22 billion Saudi riyals ($5.3 billion) to the nation’s GDP.

The destination will be fully completed in 2030 and the approved master plan will steer the development of 22 of the 90+ 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.

TRSDC said it is developing a range of policies including zero waste-to-landfill, zero discharge to the sea, and zero single-use plastics, and has made a commitment to achieve 100 percent carbon neutrality.

The destination will also rely solely on renewable energy and have no connection to the national grid.

“The leadership of the kingdom has shown great foresight in its insistence on balanced development of this pristine destination,” said 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.”