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The Ambitious Plan to Make Saudi Arabia the Next Hot Tourist Destination

Hegra Landscape and Tomb at Al-Ula. Courtesy of Royal Commission for Al-Ula

On February 10, the Royal Commission of Al-Ula (RCU) hosted the “Launching the Vision for Al-Ula” ceremony under the patronage of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The mega-tourism projects announced plan to responsibly develop and transform the historic Al-Ula into a heritage destination, attracting visitors from all over the world.

Louvre Abu Dhabi’s designer and renowned French architect Jean Nouvel will build the Sharaan resort expected to be complete by 2030. Against the backdrop of Al-Ula’s postcard-perfect sandstone setting and deep in the 925sqkm valley of the Sharaan Nature Reserve, the resort will be a haven away from the bustling city. The first-of-its-kind resort is part of a master-planned destination and will boast 25 suites, 10 pavilions and over 45 residential estates. With the addition of a spa, restaurants and an International Summit Center, Al-Ula is on its way to becoming the next biggest destination in the Middle East.

“The Sharaan Resort is our first step in making Al-Ula a leading global destination,” said Lisa Kolinac, Chief Development Officer at RCU.

Talking about the resort’s unique integration into Al-Ula’s monumental sandstone setting Nouvel said, “The location is rooted in history, it is rooted in the history of the land, the history of the Nabateans. To be able to frame the Sharaan landscape at different heights is amazing, discovering the distant horizons, discovering the different qualities of light. It will also mean inventing, based on the irregularities of nature and geography. Architecture helps in this. Art helps. We should see what is built here as art.”

Also set to be the world’s largest fund to protect the endangered big cat native to the mountains of the region is the Global Fund for the Arabian leopard. The initiative was announced alongside the Sharaan Nature Reserve, the designated canyon area of Al-Ula where the endangered Nubian ibexes, red-necked ostriches and idmi gazelles have now found their home.

Amr AlMadani, CEO of RCU stated, “The public launch of our vision for Al-Ula is an exciting step forward in our journey to protect the natural heritage of the region and share its rich cultural history around the globe. A trip to Al-Ula is like taking a journey through time; where every rock tells a story, and we want to introduce this beautiful place to the world.”

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