Inside Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea project

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Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Red Sea project aims to diversify the country’s economy by attracting tourists as part of the Kingdom's Vision 2030 plan with an aim to boost revenue from visitors from 3 percent to 10 percent by 2030.

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Work has already started on the holiday destination site, which intends to pave the way for foreign investment and create jobs locally.

“There are many foreign investments that we aspire to attract,” said Ahmad Darwish, Chief of Staff of the Red Sea Development Company. “One example is the signing of the utility contract.”

The Red Sea project is intended to be the catalyst for a new tourism industry in a country which is opening up its natural splendor to visitors from around the world. The Kingdom first began issuing tourist visas in 2019 and announced that year that it had attracted $30 billion in tourism investment.

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan includes a push towards sustainable tourism, and the Red Sea project is expected to create around 70,000 jobs, including 35,000 direct jobs.

The Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund provided the initial funding for the project, allowing international companies to then step in and invest, contributing to the local economy.

The Red Sea project is one of the first tourism developments that will be completed. It is expected to be ready in 2030.

The project is one of the Saudi Arabia’s three mega-projects aimed at boosting its tourism sector announced in October 2017, along with the megacity NEOM and Amaala, another resort on the Red Sea.

Situated on Saudi Arabia’s western coastline, the 28,000-kilometer luxury tourist destination features an archipelago of over 90 islands – although authorities only intend to eventually develop 22 – mountains, dunes, canyons, and volcanoes.

“Upon completion of the first phase, there will be 3,000 hotel rooms provided,” Darwish said.

“The hotels will include many facilities, and the project will provide many job opportunities for the citizens and the people of the surrounding areas," he added.

Saudi Arabia is aiming to roughly double the number of tourists visiting annually to 100 million by 2030.

In September, it was announced that the Kingdom expected to begin issuing tourist visas again in early 2021 after they were halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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