By Sam Bridge
Amaala aims to set new standards in sustainable development while placing the kingdom on the global hospitality map
Amaala, a visionary giga-project by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) underway in northwest Saudi Arabia, has been incorporated as a standalone company.
One of a series of mega projects announced last year as the oil-reliant kingdom seeks to diversify, Amaala has been dubbed the Riviera of the Middle East.
A statement said Amaala aims to set new standards in sustainable development while placing the kingdom on the global hospitality map, offering a "vibrant and progressive destination for wellness, the arts, recreation".
Located within the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Natural Reserve, the 3,800 square kilometre project will blend wellness with creative and social offerings to take guests on journey of "holistic self-transformation", it added.
The development is slated to include the world’s top hotel brands and more than 800 residential villas, apartments and estate homes, alongside 200 high-end fashion and retail establishments, a contemporary arts museum and wide variety of galleries, ateliers and artisan workshops, as well as signature dining and world-class marinas and sporting venues.
Last year, PIF announced its plans for a luxury tourism destination on its northwestern coast, saying the first phase was due to open in the fourth quarter of 2020.
In an update, Amaala said groundbreaking is due to commence in the first half of 2020.
The project, aimed at "the world’s top 2.5 million leisure travellers", is expected to be completed in 2028.
Saudi Arabia has also unveiled blueprints to build Neom, a mega project billed as a regional Silicon Valley, in addition to the Red Sea project, a reef-fringed resort destination - both worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
Such projects are the brainchild of Prince Mohammed, architect of a sweeping reform programme dubbed "Vision 2030".
The reforms stem partly from a motivation to boost domestic spending and attract foreign investment as the kingdom reels from an economic slowdown.
Kickstarting tourism is one of the centrepieces of Vision 2030.