Saudi Arabia

Red Sea wonders

The Turtle Bay hotel amidst the Coastal Village, one of the first major developments completed at The Red Sea Project.

Work on two of the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism destinations, The Red Sea Project and Amaala, is now well in progress under the meticulous direction of Red Sea Global (RSG), which aims to combine the unique experiences only the Red Sea coastal area and its rich marine environment can offer with the ultra-luxury that the world’s best hotel chains can proffer.

The first phase of The Red Sea Project is well advanced, with its showpiece airport and four resorts expected to open this year; while at Amaala – which was launched later – work has gathered momentum towards its Phase One opening next year.

The ambitious Red Sea Project has witnessed a number of key milestones over the past year including the installation of the first batch of stainless-steel overwater villas and the completion of an iconic bridge from the mainland to the project’s main hub island Shurayrah.

The modularly constructed orb villas have been installed on their foundations at the Sheybarah Island Resort. They were produced in Sharjah by Grankraft.

Now, the next major milestone will be  the completion of work on the Red Sea International Airport later this year, which will throw open this 28,000-sq-km pristine tourism destination along Saudi Arabia’s west coast to thousands of visitors from around the globe.

Work in progress at the Red Sea International Airport project.

Work in progress at the Red Sea International Airport project.

The Red Sea Project encompasses a vast archipelago of 92 islands, mountain canyons, dormant volcanoes, sweeping desert dunes, and ancient heritage sites. Upon completion in 2030, The project is expected to host 50 hotels, offering up to 8,000 hotel rooms, and around 1,300 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites.

Work on the first phase of the project, which will cover just 140 sq km of this massive site – the size of Belgium – will see the development of 16 hotels on five of the islands and two inland resorts, as well as commercial, retail and leisure facilities and core infrastructure. It also includes the international airport; a Construction Village which now houses the thousands of workers engaged on the project; the 1.5-million-sq-m Coastal Village, a permanent asset of The Red Sea Project, which will accommodate the staff working within the development when it opens; a power and desalination network; as well as other infrastructure work.

RSG – previously known as The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) – continues to attract key interest from global hotel chains; the Four Seasons is among the latest to join its hospitality portfolio.

The new Four Seasons Resort will be located on Shura Island. Designed by Foster + Partners, it will offer 149 rooms and suites, all with uninterrupted views over white sand beaches and crystal clear waters.  The property will also feature six restaurants and lounges, meeting and events spaces, a marine discovery centre, Kids For All Seasons space and much more.

In July last year, RSG entered into a joint venture agreement with Almutlaq Real Estate Investment Company (AREIC) to develop Jumeirah the Red Sea, a 159-key luxury resort also on Shura, which is expected to open early next year.

A Clinique La Prairie Health Resort will take shape within Amaala.

A Clinique La Prairie Health Resort will take shape within Amaala.

Shura Island forms part of the first phase of development, and will comprise 11 luxury, premium and lifestyle hotels and resorts, residential units, an 18-hole championship golf course, a 118-berth yacht marina, and a comprehensive retail, dining, and entertainment offering. A 1.2-km iconic bridge, part of the 3.3-km crossing from the mainland to the island, was completed last year. It was built by marine contracting specialist Archirodon.

Other hotels taking shape on Shura Island include the 430-key Prestigious Central Hotel.

The first hotels that are expected to open at the project are the Six Senses Southern Dunes from IHG in one of the two inland locations at the project; Nujuma, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve; and St Regis The Red Sea.

RSG had last year appointed daa International as the operator of the Red Sea International airport, which is on track to become the region’s first-ever carbon-neutral airport. Designed by Foster + Partners, the facility is expected to welcome its first passengers later this year, with capabilities to serve an estimated one million tourists per year by 2030.

Meanwhile, work is in progress on a major carbon-neutral utility system at the project, which is being developed at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion, under the PPP (public private partnership) model by a consortium headed by leading Saudi utility developer Acwa Power.

On completion, the project will provide renewable power, potable water, wastewater treatment, district cooling as well as solid waste treatment services for 16 hotels, the airport and also infrastructure that makes up Phase One of The Red Sea destination.  The renewable energy for the project will be provided through a solar PV plant with a 340 MWac capacity as well as a 1,200MW BESS (battery energy storage system) and an internal combustion engine of 108.98 MW capacity.

Around 32,500 cu m potable water per day will be provided through a seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination plant, while its district cooling capacity will around 32,500 RT.


Rosewood Hotels & Resorts hotel, which is currently being built at Amaala.

Rosewood Hotels & Resorts hotel, which is currently being built at Amaala.


Meanwhile some 200 km away from The Red Sea Project, the pace has been picking up at the topographically stunning ultra-luxury Amaala, the first global integrated family wellness destination.

The first phase of Amaala is well underway in a bid to welcome its first guests in 2024. Upon completion, Amaala will be home to more than 3,000 hotel rooms across 25 hotels, and around 900 luxury residential villas and apartments, alongside high-end retail outlets and fine dining, wellness, and recreational facilities.

According to RSG, Amaala’s first phase of development, which is focused on the Triple Bay masterplan, will encompass eight hotels and more than 1,200 hotel keys upon full completion in 2027.

Centred around the three pillars of wellness and sports, arts and culture, and sea, sun and lifestyle, the 4,155-sq-km destination is located in the spectacular Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) Nature Reserve and will comprise three communities each offering a distinct set of experiences: Triple Bay, a sports and wellness community; the Coastal Development, which aims to offer a year-round artistic programme; and The Island, an artists’ community and hub of creativity.

Set against a backdrop of imposing mountains and running alongside a coastline of beautiful coves, Triple Bay will spread over 11.3 sq km and encompass 16 hotels with 1,325 hospitality keys and 435 residential units.

The Coastal Development, extending over an area of 7 sq km, will comprise seven hotels offering 800 keys as well as 200 residential units. The Island, covering 3.5 sq km, will host seven hotels offering 400 keys and 200 residential units.

Among the most recent hotel chains that have signed up to open at Amaala are Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, which will manage a premium property featuring 110 guest rooms and suites, as well as 25 luxury residences.  Work on the project, which was designed by ACPV Architects (Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel), is being implemented by Hassan Allam Construction Saudi, a subsidiary of leading Egyptian engineering and construction company Hassan Allam.

Amaala will also host a Jayasom Wellness Resort offering a total of 177 keys, comprising a family wellness product alongside an adults-only zone, as well as residences for sale to private owners. Situated in Triple Bay, the resort will offer an area of 7,000 sq m dedicated to holistic health, fitness, physiotherapy, nutrition, aesthetic beauty, and a spa.

According RSG Group Chief Executive John Pagano, the resort will form part of the first development phase of Amaala, which expects to welcome its first guests in 2024. 

RSG has also partnered with leading longevity clinic and wellness brand, Clinique La Prairie which will see the development of a high-end 36,115-sq-m Clinique La Prairie Health Resort within Amaala. The exclusive resort will offer 66 ultra-luxury suites and 13 Branded Residencies.

As of September last year, RSG had awarded some 300 contracts worth in excess of SR6.62 billion ($1.7 billion) - more than 98 per cent of the total contract value having been awarded to Saudi firms.

More recently, RSG has awarded two major contracts for the first phase of development at Amaala’s Triple Bay Marina Village to Saudi Arabian Baytur. The contracts include work on RSG’s marine life institute - the world’s first fully immersive experiential marine life center – and a yacht club. 

Designed by leading architecture firm HKS, the signature 7,900-sq-m Triple Bay Yacht Club is the centrepiece of the stunning marina development plans. its iconic design is inspired by local eroded rock features and traditional air movement architecture. The club includes a terrace restaurant, infinity pool deck and rooftop cabana lounge.

Complementing the yacht club’s functions, the 10-hectare basin hosts a 120-berth marina for yachts up to 130 m in length, and is designed for both residents and yachting events, regattas and launches.

RSG has also awarded a primary infrastructure and utility contract worth nearly $266 million to Al Ayuni Investment and Contracting Company for the first phase of development at Amaala.

A staff village is being built by Greek development firm Archirodon in joint venture with Saudi Arabia’s Arabian Construction Company.

Triple Bay is expected to open in the second half of 2024.