Exclusive: NEOM’s luxury island Sindalah to rival top global tourist destinations

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NEOM’s new luxury island Sindalah is set to rival top global tourist destinations such as the likes of Monaco and Athens with its year-long luxury offerings.

With its first visitors expected in early 2024, the new luxury tourist destination will be home to a vibrant, world-class marina and yacht club, positioning itself as a new addition to the international yachting season, Executive Director of NEOM’s Hotel Development division, Chris Newman, told Al Arabiya English in an exclusive interview on Thursday.

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“Sindalah represents NEOM’s first physical showcase and significant moment for both NEOM and Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector,” Newman said

“Sindalah offers visitors a convenient year-long, vibrant destination. By being home to a world-class marina and yacht club, the island is a new addition to the international yachting season.”

He added that the island is “well-located for European boat owners and accessible via the Suez Canal from many existing yachting destinations, such as Athens, Porto Cervo and Monaco. For regional yacht owners and enthusiasts, Sindalah is closely located to al-Wajh and Jeddah, and enjoys temperatures that are generally 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the GCC region.”

A main gateway to the Red Sea, Sindalah Island is home to approximately 2,000 different marine species, many of which are “exclusive to the Red Sea and cannot be found anywhere else in the world,” he explained.

Poised to be the perfect destination for marine lovers and enthusiasts, the island’s areas of seagrass and colorful coral reefs are home to a wide and stunning array of aquatic animal life, including manta rays and dugongs, among many others.

‘Opulence and adventure’

The island is expected to attract “an international community of curious travelers and seekers of opulence and adventure, including yacht owners, boat charters and nautical enthusiasts,” Newman said.

“It is a luxury island destination with multifaceted experiences on offer year-round,” he said, revealing an event calendar jam-packed with grand sporting events, lavish celebrations, cultural events, and many others, with offerings for people of different interests to enjoy.

“The ‘Glamour Season,’ which takes place from March to May, and October and November, coincides with the peak yachting event season and will see guests enjoy exclusive access to concerts, fashion and culinary festivals,” he revealed.

“The ‘Active Season’ happening from June to September, will see us offering guests a range of family-friendly beach and recreational activities.”

Spanning across 840,000 square meters, Sindalah is one of a group of islands that will be developed by NEOM.

The project was unveiled by Saudi Arabia’s Prime Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Monday, in a new boost to the Kingdom’s already burgeoning tourism sector.

When asked what he was looking forward to the most about this new luxury destination, Newman said that he was excited about having the “opportunity to demonstrate how we can live in harmony with nature, preserve our planet for future generations, while at the same time making huge leaps forward in the areas of technology and urban development.”

“NEOM is a region being designed from scratch by dreamers and doers – it is incredible to work with some of the world’s most talented and diverse minds attempting to do things that have never been done before. It’s coming at a time when the world needs fresh thinking and new solutions if it is to overcome the significant global challenges ahead of us.”

The island will provide guests with a host of accommodation options.

NEOM plans to build 413 ultra-premium rooms, including 88 villas and 333 high-end serviced apartments.

“At the forefront of modern architectural design, the breathtaking aesthetics of Sindalah have been designed by world-class architects, such as LUCA DINI Design and Architecture. The design will certainly completement the natural landscape while looking forward in terms of aesthetics and visitors experience.”

Luxury yacht and beach club

Sindalah’s position as the future go-to luxury destination comes hand in hand with the services it is planning to offer its visitors. In addition to the luxury hotels, apartments and beach club, the island is looking to break into the international yachting community.

It will offer a yacht club and a marina that will be equipped with 86 berths for yachts up to 50 meters and 75 meters, and serviced offshore buoys for superyachts up to 180 meters.

“The yacht club and marina are designed to set a new benchmark in service and experience for luxury vessel owners and operators,” Newman said.

He explained that the island will be “accessible from NEOM Bay Airport and the NEOM mainland by boat, ferry and seaplane,” adding that Sindalah can be easily reached by yacht from the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal, providing “year-round access for travelers and the ideal location for winter mooring.”

In addition to all these offerings, Guests will also be able to enjoy high-end retail and food and beverage experiences on the island which is set to house 38 outlets.

Saudi Vision 2030

The Kingdom continues to witness many reforms under Saudi Vision 2030 – a transformative economic and social reform blueprint launched and initiated by the Crown Prince in 2016.

The Vision has placed weight on the revival of Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector, which has been heavily prioritized by the leadership.

NEOM’s Hotel Development division has immensely contributed to this aspect, Newman said, while also offering an economic boost.

He added that NEOM’s goal is to host up to five million visitors by 2030, with the tourism sector expected to be the number one employer at NEOM by then, accounting for one-third of all employees.

“Through its contribution to the establishment of a world-class tourism sector, NEOM Hotel Development will be a catalyst for the growth of NEOM as an economic engine, fueling the diversification goals of Saudi Vision 2030,” Newman said.

“Sindalah alone is anticipated to create approximately 3,500 jobs for the tourism sector and hospitality and leisure services.”

NEOM in itself, he added, has a pivotal role to play as a catalyst for the Saudi economy. “It is being developed as a model of how humanity can adapt, thrive and overcome the challenges of unchecked urban development, climate change and environmental degradation.”

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