Work has begun on a new forward-thinking eco-friendly resort in the historic north-western city of Al Ula in Saudi Arabia. As part of a tourism drive by The Royal Commission for Al Ula (RCU), in partnership with the global hospitality group Habitas, the project will be a unique offering with a focus on heritage and community-driven initiatives.
The name of the resort is still currently under wraps, but we know that the site will open its doors to its first guests in the first quarter of 2021. Habitas will also work closely with RCU to roll the project out in phases which will be due for completion later in the year.
The fascinating site of Al Ula is set to be a low-impact tourism destination, with a focus on sustaining ecosystems and wildlife, so as to maintain the authenticity of the site. Habitas specializes in creating hotels using sustainable materials, manufactured in its facilities in Mexico and assembled on-site, thus minimizing its impact on the environment.
Al Ula is home to the country’s first Unesco World Heritage Site, Hegra, which has an impressive collection of precious, ancient archeological and art sites.
“From our very first trip to Al Ula we were really inspired by the people we met and by its natural beauty and heritage. Travel is an incredible gift to create greater compassion and understanding in the world between different people and cultures,” says Oliver Ripley, chief executive officer of Habitas.
“This agreement reflects our commitment to making Al Ula a global destination that offers visitors unique, authentic experiences as we protect, share and celebrate our natural and cultural heritage,” adds Amr Al Madani, chief executive of the Royal Commission for Al Ula.
“Construction is underway, a fact that signals that we are actively opening up new opportunities for regional and international investors in the hospitality sector while empowering and enabling our community.”
When complete, the resort will offer 100 luxury rooms, that will blend seamlessly with Al Ula’s landscape – providing a unique immersion in the rich culture and heritage of the region for visitors. One of the major focuses around this will be a drive to whole support local crafts, farmers and artisans.
The resort is one of several in development in the area, including one by the Banyan Tree and three luxury properties by Aman. A resort in the Sharaan Nature Reserve is also being created by architect Jean Nouvel, who designed Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Currently, tourism visas to Saudi Arabia are suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it is hoped that Al Ula’s heritage sites will reopen to visitors in October this year.