Saudi Arabia’s flagship luxury tourism initiative, The Red Sea Project, is on track to for its earmarked 2022 opening, its Chief Executive John Pagano told the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference on Wednesday.
Owned by a Saudi sovereign fund and backed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the multi-billion-dollar project will entail developing luxury resorts on 22 islands off the coral-fringed Red Sea coast and six inland sites, covering an area of 28,000 square kms, the size of Belgium.
Pagano told FII that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, because of the remoteness of the site, the project was able to be “sealed-off” and workers were able to keep the opening schedule on track.
“We knew that when the world started turning again. we needed to be ready – and we are ready,” he said. “I said we would be opening doors to 2022 – next year we will be doing exactly that.”
The Red Sea Project will be a game-changer for sustainable tourism, he said.
The vast site will run on energy entirely powered by the sun and is being built with the ethos of not only “protecting the environment, but enhancing it.”
Energy will be generated through solar panels and wind turbines to meet initial demand of 210 megawatts, with the ability to expand in line with the development.
“The pandemic has forced us to take stock,” he said. “It makes us wonder if making us tread more lighter in this earth can help mankind live with nature?”
“What we are doing with the Red Sea Project answers those yearnings.”
He said the Red Sea Project has already created 10,000 new jobs, whilst ultimately, 14,000 people will live and work at the site.
Sustainability will be at the forefront of the mega project, he said, with the realization that “we cannot keep on treating our planet like we used to.”
“In that the Red Sea Project is definitely leading the way.”
“Red Sea is a place where no one bit of garbage is going to a landfill. Nothing will end up in the sea.”
A vast nursery is also going to be home to 25 million plants, he said.
“Anything we can recycle, is recycled on site. By the time our first guest arrives, we will have the largest battery storage system in the word.”
“The last two years has shown the best of humanity and the need to invest in humanity,” he added.
“We serve nature best by not preserving it, but by enhancing it. Regeneration is about leaving the place better than when we arrived.”
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