Key ecological targets are driving Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea tourism megaproject, its leader has told Arab News.
The project is taking shape in a 28,000 square kilometer region of lagoons, archipelagos, canyons and volcanic geology between the small towns of Al-Wajh and Umluj on the Kingdom’s west coast.
Nine islands are deemed to be so crucial to the ecology that they will not be built on at all, and access will be carefully controlled. One island, Al-Waqqadi, looked like the perfect tourism destination but was discovered to be a breeding ground for the hawksbill.
The Red Sea has warmer sea temperatures and higher salinity values, yet the coral thrives. Scientists are also working to explain why the area’s coral reef system — fourth-largest in the world — is thriving when others around the world are endangered.
On-site construction will be kept to a minimum by the use of prefabricated units built elsewhere in the Kingdom and then shipped to the Red Sea for assembly and installation on the islands. He will have to have 3,000 hotel keys by 2022 when phase one of the project is complete and ready to welcome the first of 300,000 annual visitors.