A luxurious destination in the middle of the desert? That's exactly what Saudi Arabia aims to bring to the table with Amaala, the heart of the Red Sea Riviera along Saudi Arabia's northwestern coastline.
To ensure the project pans out exactly how people are envisioning it, Amaala has announced the appointment of architectural firm Denniston as the master designer for The Island, one of the project's key components.
The Island seeks to become the core of artsy feels in the middle of a shimmering sea. The "artist village" will include an Arabic botanical garden, a contemporary art museum and academy, a Riviera-lifestyle artists' colony, immersive artistic experiences, and art and sculpture co-creation opportunities.
"We are excited to be working alongside Jean-Michel Gathy and Denniston to bring to life our vision for The Island," said Nicholas Naples, CEO of Amaala, according to Arabian Business.
"It is here where our guests will embark on a transformational journey and feed the soul through arts and cultural offerings, with opportunities for philanthropic art co-creation."
Amaala is one of Saudi Arabia's largest tourism mega-projects. It will sit along the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Nature Reserve and will span 1,460 square miles of land. It'll include 800 villas and homes and some 200 retail, dining, recreation, and wellness spaces. All this without comprising sustainability. Amaala is expected to generate 22,000 jobs in hospitality, tourism, leisure, and retail, as well as construction with a knock-on effect boosting other industries.
Amaala aims to conserve and enhance the untouched marine and coastal ecosystem, according to its site. It's composed of three different sites, each with its own respective goals and themes.
1. Triple Bay (Wellness & Sports)
Sits against a backdrop of mountains and seas and is the perfect destination for anyone looking for a peaceful (and picturesque) escape. It'll offer one of the world's most exclusive wellness retreats, recreational activities, a sports performance academy, and active sports club facilities including equestrian, polo, camel racing, falconry, golf, and tennis.
2. The Island (Luxury Art Residences)
Anchored by an artist village of working studios, artisan shops, exhibit and performance facilities, The Island seeks to host artsy communities with beachfront resorts and marinas.
3. The Coastal Development (Sea, Sun & Lifestyle)
This site is more about hosting events and becoming a gathering hotspot for influencers and connoisseurs, featuring a contemporary art museum and cultural district.
Situated between Neom & The Red Sea Project
Amaala will be situated between the megacity Neom and The Red Sea Project, which was first announced in 2017. The latter aims to transform the Red Sea coast into a luxury beach destination governed by "independent laws."
Under Saudi Vision 2030, a key goal is to increase the number of tourists in the kingdom. Currently, while millions travel to Saudi Arabia each year, this is primarily for religious tourism to the holy sites of Mecca and Medina. Ever since the ambitious Vision 2030 was revealed, different measures have been taken to ensure the growth of the kingdom's tourism sector. The kingdom's historic decision to allow tourists to visit Saudi Arabia was the talk of the town last year. Just 10 days after the e-tourist visas rolled out, over 24,000 people visited the kingdom. With the launch of Riyadh Season, the number of visitors climbed even higher.
The growing tourism sector is of vital importance to Saudi Arabia, a country whose economy has long been reliant on oil. Saudi Arabia aims to grow tourism from 3 percent to 10 percent of its GDP. Last year, the Chief Executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council, Gloria Guevara, said the tourism sector is set to account for 5 percent of the country's GDP by 2021. So, it seems gradual growth is exactly what Saudi Arabia aims to achieve over the next 11 years. And hiring a designer to ensure the proper division of The Island is a step in the right direction as the looks and feels of the area will either make or break the destination as a hotspot getaway.