Category Archives: Travel

Everything You Need to Know About the Red Sea Project

Everything You Need to Know About the Red Sea Project

TheRedSeaProjectIn the past, Saudi Arabia’s tourist industry has primarily been as a religious destination, through the Umrah or Hajj pilgrimages. However, in line with Vision 2030, the kingdom is seeking to diversify its economy beyond fossil fuel production and invest heavily in its tourism sector.

Saudi Arabia recently began construction on the expansive Qiddiya Project. When completed in 2022, it will serve as a vital recreational, social, and cultural hub. The Project will contain a diverse range of sports and entertainment facilities, amusement parks, water and snow parks, and natural attractions.

In addition to the Qiddiya Project, the kingdom is working toward establishing its Red Sea beaches as must-visit resort destinations. Here is what you need to know about the Red Sea Project:

 

The Red Sea Project Was Announced in 2017

The ambitious Red Sea Project will transform 50 untouched islands across 125 miles of seashore in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia into a luxurious resort destination. It was announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in August 2017.

The Crown Prince is also chairman of the Public Investment Fund (PIF). The PIF is contributing the initial capital required to launch the project. Additional funds will be obtained through partnerships with prominent international companies.

The resort will be built near the dormant volcano field and nature reserve Harrat Al-Rahat and is expected to contribute significantly to Saudi economic growth. Initial groundbreaking is anticipated in the third quarter of 2019, and the first phase of the project is expected to wrap up near the end of 2022. It’s expected to create as many as 35,000 new jobs and, once completed, contribute upwards of $4 billion in revenue per year.

 

Amenities and Natural Surroundings

The project is expected to attract major international hotel operators and will include a variety of other attractions. Examples include the Madain Saleh ancient ruins, which is Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A significant number of resorts and villas are expected to be constructed over the next few years. There will also be marine-oriented developments built to allow for unparalleled scuba diving experiences along picturesque coral reefs. Along with several endangered marine species, the reefs will be granted environmental protections. Other nature-inspired activities on the islands will include parachuting, rock climbing, and hiking.

A nearby nature reserve is already home to protected wildlife such as leopards, wildcats, wolves, and falcons and, to ensure continued environmental preservation and conservation, the kingdom plans on restoring heritage sites and capping the number of annual visitors.

 

 

John Pagano Hired as CEO of the Project

In May 2018, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Commerce and Investment registered The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), a subsidiary joint-stock company of PIF, to oversee the project. In a statement emailed to Reuters, TRSDC noted it will develop a Special Economic Zone.

This Special Economic Zone will come complete with its own visas on entry, improved business regulations, and relaxed social norms. The goal is to become a world-class international tourist destination. Around the same time, the sovereign wealth fund appointed John Pagano as CEO of TRSDC.

Pagano most recently served as head of development at London, England’s Canary Wharf business zone. He has more than 35 years of commercial property experience across Europe, the Caribbean, and North America.

Additionally, he has managed his own landowner and investor consultancy firm. Pagano also served as president of Baha Mar Development Company, through which he oversaw the development of a convention center, four hotels, and a championship golf course in Nassau, the Bahamas.

In regard to the Red Sea Project, Pagano is confident it will offer something for all types of travelers. He stated that “The destination will provide a unique sense of place for visitors and offer nature lovers, adventurers, cultural explorers and guests looking to escape and rejuvenate, a wide range of exclusive experiences, combining luxury, tranquility, adventure and beautiful landscapes.”

 

Richard Branson Among Notable Advisory Board Members

Months after Pagano was hired as its CEO, TRSDC announced the appointment of 12 international executives and environmental figures to its advisory board. The most notable name on the board is Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson.

Branson visited Saudi Arabia in September 2017 and expressed interest in the project. His success in creating eight unique billion-dollar companies across eight business sectors is expected to significantly inform the strategic implementation of various aspects of the Red Sea Project.

Others appointed to the advisory board include: Revolution CEO Steve Case; Red Sea Research Center professor Carlos Duarte; World Ocean Council President Paul Holthus; QI Group Director of International and Public Affairs Vijay Poonoosamy; and EarthEcho International President and Co-Founder Philippe Cousteau Jr.

All 12 board members first met in New York in March 2018 to discuss initial visions for the project. They have since met in Saudi Arabia to visit the site of the project and explore its marine ecosystems.

“The insights and advice that we gather from the Board are extremely valuable in assessing and tailoring the effectiveness of our current plan,” Pagano noted. “This will enable us create something truly unique for our guests and for the people of Saudi Arabia, as we set new international standards for protecting, preserving, restoring and providing access to a unique experience at this site for generations to come.”

 

Tourism Developments That Will Attract More Visitors to the UAE

Tourism Developments That Will Attract More Visitors to the UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) consistently scores high in a variety of measures relating to tourism and is actively working to improve its status as a tourist destination even further. Numbeo recently ranked Abu Dhabi and Dubai first and 11th, respectively, on its list of the world’s safest cities, while Dubai finished first ahead of… Continue Reading

Everything You Need to Know about the Latest Saudi High-Speed Railway

Everything You Need to Know about the Latest Saudi High-Speed Railway

In addition to shifting its economy away from its reliance on oil, Saudi Arabia is implementing numerous rail transport projects. This will not only diversify its economy, but alleviate traffic congestion on its roads. The Saudi Landbridge Project will connect the capital, Riyadh, with Jeddah on the Red Sea coast. While it will primarily be… Continue Reading

Spotlight on Bahrain’s Investments in Tourism Infrastructure

Spotlight on Bahrain’s Investments in Tourism Infrastructure

Bahrain is home to one of the fastest-growing economies in the Middle East. The growth is being driven by an increase in tourism coinciding with significant investments in tourism infrastructure. According to the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority, the Kingdom welcomed 12.2 million visitors in 2016—a 6% increase from the previous year—and 12.7 million in… Continue Reading

4 Ongoing Mega Projects in Turkey You Need to Know About

4 Ongoing Mega Projects in Turkey You Need to Know About

Since the turn of the 21st century, Turkey has made substantial investments in ambitious infrastructure projects, and that trend is going to continue beyond 2018. In the past decade and a half alone, the Middle Eastern country has spent nearly $100 billion to construct new roadways, tunnels, airports, bridges, and railways in an effort to… Continue Reading

What You Need to Know about Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi

What You Need to Know about Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi

The United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi is a burgeoning hub for infrastructure development. Recently, the city earned the TomTom International Award for World’s Best City in Developing Infrastructures Related to Traffic Management. Core infrastructure projects are ongoing throughout Abu Dhabi and have the potential to boost the city’s economy, but one large-scale resort… Continue Reading

What You Need to Know about the Riyadh Metro Project

What You Need to Know about the Riyadh Metro Project

Despite being home to more than 6 million citizens, the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh lacks a major public transportation system. However, that won’t be the case by early 2019, as the Riyadh Metro Project is expected to be completed by then and, in turn, expected to significantly alleviate traffic congestion on the city’s streets.… Continue Reading

Spotlight – Egypt’s Wonderful New City of the Future

Spotlight – Egypt’s Wonderful New City of the Future

The most-populated city in Egypt, Cairo serves as the country’s administrative and financial capital, but this won’t be the case for much longer. In March 2015, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced plans to develop a New Administrative Capital, which will stress sustainability, place emphasis on technology in design, ecology, and culture practices, and alleviate national… Continue Reading

What You Need to Know about the Gulf Railway Project

What You Need to Know about the Gulf Railway Project

A massive project underway in the Middle East could transform the region’s economy and transportation network. The Gulf Railway is a 2,117-kilometer railroad intended to link the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Here’s what you need to know about this sprawling… Continue Reading

3 Exciting Ways Iran Will Rediscover the Freedom of Travel

3 Exciting Ways Iran Will Rediscover the Freedom of Travel

As the second-most populated and the second-most well-funded country in the Middle East, Iran has significant potential for industry and infrastructure development – especially with the recent removal of international sanctions. While cut off from global trade and financial connection, Iran experienced underinvestment. This, in turn, put considerable strain on its aging transport system and… Continue Reading