The Red Sea Project, Saudi Arabia: a luxury destination created around one of the world’s hidden natural treasures

Shurayrah © The Red Sea Development Company

The Red Sea Project is the world’s most ambitious luxury tourism development, offering an exclusive experience of unparalleled diversity for discerning global travellers.

The site encompasses an archipelago of more than 90 pristine islands, miles of sweeping desert and dramatic mountain landscapes. The ambitious vision to deliver unforgettable, personalized experiences in a stunning environment is also matched by the commitment to offer access to some of Saudi Arabia’s most important cultural treasures, to protect, preserve and enhance the local environment and to set a new standard in sustainable development. In particular, the Red Sea Project will mitigate carbon dioxide emissions, waste production, and light and noise pollution, maintaining the destination at a level equivalent to a Marine Protected Area.

© The Red Sea Development Company

The destination’s variety of islands and coastline, rare opportunities to enjoy culture and the natural world, together with the highest-quality personalized accommodation and service, will set new standards in luxury travel and position Saudi Arabia on the global tourism map.

Unforgettable luxury

The Red Sea Project will be an exquisite sanctuary offering indulgent experiences, seamlessly customized to the unique needs of each visitor. The site encompasses an archipelago of more than 90 pristine islands, miles of sweeping desert and dramatic landscapes that include volcanoes, and canyons.

The Red Sea Project

At 28,000 square kilometres, the Red Sea Project on the Western coast of Saudi Arabia between the cities of Umluj and Al Wajh is one of the most ambitious tourism development projects ever. It includes 200 km of coastline and an archipelago of 90 untouched islands, dormant volcanoes, desert, mountains, natural treasures and a rich variety of wildlife. The Red Sea is one of the world’s most exquisite marine environments. Conveniently located within an eight-hour flight of 80 percent of the world’s population, the area offers the perfect combination of luxury, tranquility and outdoor wellness pursuits to meet the evolving needs of the modern luxury traveler.

In addition, the area is steeped in cultural history. The destination is crisscrossed by ancient trade and caravan routes. Rock carvings and petroglyphs stand mute testament to the destination’s extensive heritage.

© The Red Sea Development Company

Iconic Design

The masterplan has been developed in partnership with WATG and Buro Happold, and includes unique design concepts from some of the world’s most prominent architecture firms.

Phase One of the Project will see the construction of 14 luxury and hyper-luxury hotels across five islands and two inland resorts, providing more than 3,000 hotel rooms. The Project will also include a new airport, a yacht marina, leisure and lifestyle facilities, as well as supporting logistics and utilities infrastructure, including 75km of new roads.

The destination is expected to be fully completed by 2030, offering 8,000 hotel rooms across island resorts, mountain retreats and desert hideaways. Luxury residential properties and commercial, retail and recreational facilities will also be available.

To protect and enhance the destination’s pristine natural environment, 75 percent of the destination’s islands will be left undeveloped, and have designated nine as sites of significant ecological value.

Eco tourism is the biggest trend in travel right now, and thanks to climate change, it’s one that won’t fade in the future. But there’s another exciting new development on the horizon, too: regenerative tourism. The pioneer is Saudi Arabia’s trailblazing Red Sea Project, opening in 2022, which is one of the first global destinations to take this proactive approach.

Architectural Digest, Middle East

Coral Bloom

Shurayrah is the hub island of The Red Sea Project on the west coast of Saudi Arabia. With a natural dolphin shape, the island is one of 92 in the archipelago, which is home to the world’s fourth largest barrier reef system, untouched corals and a significant number of endangered species.

Shurayrah

Renowned British architects Foster + Partners were appointed to design all 11 unique resorts on Shurayrah. Referred to as “Coral Bloom”, the designs were launched by His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince, Chairman of The Red Sea Development Company. The resorts are sure to give future guests a barefoot luxury experience like no other place on earth.

© The Red Sea Development Company

Gerard Evenden, Head of Studio at Foster + Partners, elaborates on the inspiration behind their designs.

“Shurayrah has incredible fauna and flora and a special relationship to its coral reefs. This is a place where you can swim off these islands and be straight into a reef. Very unusual. So, for us the first initial reaction was we want to protect the edges… What we wanted to do was to look at ways of bringing light weight structures and placing those lightweight structures on an island.

“Just as islands have driftwood arrive and wash up onto the shore, our idea was that these hotels would wash up onto the island and then they could eventually wash away again if that was desired later.”

“It is dealt with as a single entity with 11 hotels on it. But what we wanted to do was to try to pitch the hotels so that the hotels appeal to different people at different times of their lives. You come to the island on your honeymoon and you see the island and you experience a hotel on the island. But you come back again when you have young children and you experience it in a different way. And so on through life. Through to old age.”

Sheybarah

Dubai-based Killa Design, one of the region’s leading architectural design firms, was appointed to design overwater and inland villas on Sheybarah Island. Sheybarah Island is the furthest from the mainland, located in the south east of our archipelago in the Red Sea. It features a 30 to 40-meter reef drop-off in very close proximity from the beach. So in terms of the ultimate diving spot, this island is likely to attract a lot of attention.

Their designs of the overwater villas are inspired by the natural surroundings, particularly the corals in their purest form, which make up the circle effect. The circle represents unity, integration and wholeness, giving guests a sense of completion, confidence and harmony. These coral-inspired villas emerging from the surface of the water will be made of a polished steel that will reflect the water, the sky and the best part of the project – the reef below.

The inland villas are inspired by sand dunes. Each villa will be set apart to give guests a sense of privacy.

Ummahat AlShaykh 11

Acclaimed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma & Associates was appointed ato design around 100 overwater and inland villas on one of the three Ummahat AlShaykh Islands in The Red Sea Project’s archipelago. In addition they will design two specialty restaurants, one on land and one over water, a community building, spa, reception pavilion, housekeeping villas and a guest jetty.

Ummahat AlShaykh 12 & Airport

British architects Foster + Partners were also appointed to design two of the three Ummahat AlShaykh Islands in The Red Sea Project’s archipelago and to design the airport on the west coast of Saudi Arabia.

Airport © The Red Sea Development Company

Southern Dunes

Furthermore Foster + Partners were appointed to design the Southern Dunes hotel, one of two inland hotels to open as part of phase one of The Red Sea Project.

Regenerative tourism

The Red Sea Development Company is committed to delivering a 30 percent net conservation benefit by 2040. It is creating the world’s largest district cooling plant powered by renewable energy 24 hours a day to facilitate efficient centralized cooling across the destination. The entire destination will be powered by renewables, underpinned by the largest battery storage system in the world.

In line with this commitment, the destination’s master plan is informed by an extensive marine spatial planning exercise and leaves 75 percent of the project’s islands untouched. Shurayrah is one of only 22 islands selected for development.

The Red Sea Project has already passed significant milestones and work is on track to welcome the first guests by the end of 2022, when the international airport and the first four hotels will open. The remaining 12 hotels planned in phase one will open in 2023.

© The Red Sea Development Company

Upon completion in 2030, The Red Sea Project will comprise 50 resorts, offering up to 8,000 hotel rooms and around 1,300 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites. The destination will also include luxury marinas, golf courses, entertainment and leisure facilities.

The Red Sea Development Company

The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC – www.theredsea.sa) is a closed joint-stock company wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia. TRSDC was established to drive the development of The Red Sea Project, a luxury tourism destination that will set new standards in sustainable development and position Saudi Arabia on the global tourism map.

The Red Sea Development Company is led by an experienced, multi-national team of real estate developers, engineering professionals, environmental specialists, experienced designers and project finance experts.

Our aim is to set new standards in sustainable development, respecting the natural world, creating opportunities for the local communities and protecting the destination for the future.

The Red Sea Development Company

All Images © The Red Sea Development Company