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The Red Sea Project in Saudi Arabia: What You Need to Know

Saudi Arabia's Red Sea Project.
Saudi Arabia's Red Sea Project. Photo Credit: Saudi Tourism Authority

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken monumental steps to boost its tourism industry since opening its doors to international visitors from 49 countries, including the United States, in late 2019. From outlining all the amenities, dining options and luxury resorts in major destinations like Riyadh and Jeddah, to explaining the historical significance of the tombs and well-preserved ancient city in AlUla, the Kingdom has chosen to market itself as a destination for adventure travel and exploration.

Saudi Arabia's Red Sea Project is another one of its major initiatives, and it's one that should bring tourists in by the millions once each of the project's main features reaches completion. Read on to learn about Saudi Arabia's Red Sea Project, all it entails and why you should plan a visit in the coming years.

What is the Red Sea Project?

Saudi Arabia's Red Sea Project is a brand new tourism hub that's being developed on the western coast of the country along the sea and between the cities of Umluj and Al Wajh. This location was chosen due to its proximity to the infamous Red Sea, which is home to the fourth-largest barrier reef in the world and more than 90 pristine islands that have never been disturbed by man.

Boating the Red Sea near Umluj, Saudi Arabia.
Boating the Red Sea near Umluj, Saudi Arabia. Photo Credit: Saudi Tourism Authority

The region surrounding the development boasts an array of bewildering landscapes, including dormant volcanoes, mountain canyons and endless deserts dotted with historical cultural sites. The project was also created with the environment and sustainability in mind, and a range of environmental studies was used as plans for the community were made. To protect the rich beauty of Saudi's Red Sea and preserve it for generations to come, less than 1 percent of the total site is actually being developed. The development also has plans to achieve a "30 percent net positive conservation benefit by 2040," which they aim to reach by "enhancing key habitats that help biodiversity to flourish."

For consumers, the Red Sea Project aims to offer the ultimate relaxing getaway in a beautiful and unique environment that cannot be enjoyed anywhere else in the world. The destination's first guests will arrive in 2023, and the area should have plenty of amenities and places for tourists to stay by that time. An international airport is also being planned for the Red Sea development at a future date.

Major Red Sea features coming to fruition in the coming months include:
• Desert Rock, which is currently being developed as an in-mountain hotel with rooms and suites built directly into the rock and stone.
• Landscape Nursery, which will eventually grow more than 25 million plants in the desert sands.
• Sheybarah Island, which will feature white sand beaches and the ultimate spot for snorkeling and diving thanks to a 30- to 40-meter reef drop-off close to the beach.
• Shura Island, which will eventually be home to 11 luxury hotels and resorts, an 18-hole championship golf course, its own beach club and a marina.
• Southern Dunes, which is a planned resort complex with a hotel and 40 villas in the midst of the desert.
• Ummahat Island, which will be home to the St. Regis Red Sea Resort and Nujuma, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve.

These are just some of the amenities you'll find at Red Sea, but plenty more are in development or currently in ideation. In fact, the property plans to have four developed islands, two inland sites, 16 hotels and 3,000 rooms when they open in 2023. By 2030, Red Sea plans to offer 22 developed islands, six inland sites, 48 hotels and 8,000 rooms for guests.

The Bottom Line

While the first phase of this unprecedented project won't be complete until later in 2023, it's never too early to start planning your trip. You can read about all the features being planned for the Red Sea on the Red Sea Global website, which is frequently updated with new details and will eventually let travelers make a booking at the development.

You can also begin planning other aspects of your vacation in Saudi Arabia, whether you hope to visit the capital city of Riyadh, explore historic Jeddah or spend time exploring the desert landscapes and monuments and tombs of AlUla.

For more information on Saudi Arabia, visit their tourism hub here.


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