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RIYADH: Ever since its inception five years ago, Red Sea Global was set to become a tourism project that provides responsible tourism while developing pristine islands that were untouched for centuries.
It introduced the concept of regenerative tourism, where the developers and operators should focus on preserving what is there and adding to it.
RSG announced this year that it plans to contribute, upon completion, up to SR33 billion ($8.78 billion) to the Kingdom’s economy each year.
In May 2022, during the Future Hospitality Summit in Riyadh, RSG inked three new hotel management agreements with international hotel brands to operate resorts in the first phase of development at The Red Sea Project.
The Ritz-Carlton Reserve is situated at the destination’s idyllic Ummahat Islands, while Miraval and Rosewood are located on Shura Island, the main hub for the resort. The new collection of hospitality brands collectively features nearly 500 hotel keys of the 3,000 planned in the first phase.
“Together with our collection of globally recognized and respected partners, we are excited to play our part in opening up this unique and undiscovered part of the world, setting new benchmarks for sustainable development along the way,” John Pagano, CEO of RSG, said.
In June, the company revealed a rich diversity of habitats, flora and fauna in one of the world’s most extensive environmental surveys of wildlife ecosystems, carried along the Saudi coastline.
The 11-month study has included several endangered species, such as the halavi guitarfish, hawksbill sea turtle and sooty falcon.
Released at the UN World Ocean Conference in Lisbon, the research also included an 8-meter-high single coral colony estimated to be around 600 years old.
Conducted from January to November 2021, it revealed that many threatened and endangered species inhabit the area, which shows the region’s environmental protection and regeneration efforts.
“We want to prove to the world and our peers in the tourism industry that creating world-class destinations can go hand in hand with protecting and enhancing the environment,” Pagano said.
In the lap of hospitality
Another deal the RSG announced in July is its first joint venture investment with Almutlaq Real Estate Investment Co., valued at over SR1.5 billion.
Together, they will develop Jumeirah The Red Sea, a luxury resort situated on Shura Island, currently under construction and expected to open in early 2024.
AREIC, a master developer in Saudi Arabia, has strong confidence in TRSP as it eyes further collaboration with RSG.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Abdullah Almazrou, CEO of AREIC, said that the group’s association with RSG would benefit the firm and enrich the hospitality sector in Saudi Arabia.
Under the joint venture agreement, the two companies will develop the Jumeirah Red Sea, a 159-key luxury resort situated on Shura Island.
It followed another significant development as RSG reached a financial close on an SR14.12 billion term loan facility and revolving credit facility with Banque Saudi Fransi, Riyad Bank, Saudi British Bank and Saudi National Bank. It represents the first-ever riyal-denominated green finance credit facility.
Hot on hydrogen
In July, RSG signed a memorandum of understanding with ZeroAvia, a British-American hydrogen-electric aviation firm, to test and develop zero-emission travel across its new luxury tourism destination focusing on environmental sustainability and regeneration.
Signed during the Farnborough International Airshow in London, the deal will explore options to retrofit a fleet of around 30 seaplane variants of the Cessna Caravan using ZeroAvia hydrogen-electric propulsion technology to fly without emissions.
RSG and ZeroAvia will work together to develop the technology, including collaborating on a roadmap for delivering the production, supply and infrastructure necessary to support hydrogen-powered air travel in Saudi Arabia, said ZeroAvia in a statement.
The aviation company aims to install a 600-kilowatt system in the Cessna Caravan, which is expected to start flying by 2024.
“Trialing ZeroAvia’s 600kW hydrogen-electric powertrains for the Caravan means tourists could be taking these zero-emission flights to the destination by the middle of this decade,” said James Peck, vice president of business development at ZeroAvia.
The partnership is part of RSG’s plan to offer fully sustainable connectivity across its destination, including TRSP and the recently acquired AMAALA project, located further north on the Red Sea coast.
Flight testing held on July 20-21 at the Red Sea International Airport, which is under construction at TRSP, marks the beginning of a new era of tourism and travel in the Kingdom.
With over a five-hour drive from the nearest existing major international airports of Jeddah or Madinah and over two hours from the nearest regional international airports of Yanbu or AlUla, RSG airport will bring domestic and international guests to the doorstep of this new global tourism destination.
Another world’s first achievement during these five years is becoming the global asset owner to achieve the prestigious Building Information Modeling Project Kitemark for its digital project delivery and development of physical and functional characteristics of spaces.
Similar certifications include becoming one of the first developments in the Middle East to achieve accreditation for excellent quality management systems through ISO 9001: 2015 and the first regionally to secure the first stage of LEED Platinum certification for the destination’s plans and designs.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is the rating system used by the US Green Building Council to measure a building’s sustainability and resource efficiency.
The Red Sea Development Co. rebranded to RSG on Oct. 25. It is currently overseeing the creation of two luxury tourism destinations in Saudi Arabia: The Red Sea and AMAALA. The developments will support the country’s ambitions to become a global tourism hub, in line with the goals set out in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
According to a press release, The Red Sea destination is expected to welcome its first visitors in early 2023. RSG’s mandate has expanded to oversee upward of a dozen projects stretching the length of the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia.
“With The Red Sea and AMAALA, we’ve proven our ability to realize mega-scale responsible developments that positively shape the futures of both the people who we welcome and employ and the places in which we operate,” said Pagano
According to the release, through the Red Sea and AMAALA projects, the company has awarded more than 1,300 contracts worth nearly SR32 billion, with some 70 percent of the total value awarded to Saudi companies.
The company today sees itself as more than just a project developer, eyeing more tourist projects in addition to the Red Sea and AMAALA.
Amjaad Alangari, senior marketing manager, RSG, told Arab News: “We have a new mandate. We have an ambition that grew with us from the past and is still growing, which is to build for the people and the planet.
“We are visionaries; we are innovators… And we have more projects to come with an ambition to protect and to enhance the environment around us.”
In late November, RSG announced a partnership with The Ocean Race for the subsequent two race editions. In addition, RSG has also partnered with Warner Bros. Discovery which will amplify their stories around the world.
Known as “sailing’s greatest round-the-world challenge,” TOR has provided the ultimate test for sailing teams since 1973.
Beyond the race itself, TOR acts as a global platform to raise awareness of the environmental challenges facing the world’s marine environment and drive positive change.
The RSG is set to make history next year, as it plans to welcome its first guests.
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