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Saudi Arabia announces mega tourism project on Red Sea

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has unveiled an ambitious plan to develop a resort area on about 50 islands off Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast. The project is part of a strategy to reduce the Saudi economy’s dependence on oil revenues.

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The Red Sea Project will be built on 30,000 square kilometers between the cities of Amlaj and al-Jawh, an area bigger than Belguim. It will be financed by the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), according to an official statement.

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“The project will be a leading coastal destination, located on a number of virgin islands in the Red Sea. Besides the project, the ruins of Madain Saleh are characterized by its construction beauty and great historical significance,” the statement says.

The project aims to promote international tourism and will start in the third quarter of 2019. The first phase, which includes “the development of hotels and luxury residential units, as well as all logistical infrastructures – including air, land, and sea transport hubs” will be completed in the last quarter of 2022.

The PIF will provide initial investment and then seek to attract major multinationals and hoteliers to invest in the resorts jointly.

“The new project aims to promote international tourism by opening the Red Sea gate to the world in order to identify its treasures and embark on new adventures that will attract tourists locally, regionally and internationally. The project will be a center for everything related to recreation, health and relaxation and an integrated model for a healthy and vital society,” the statement said.

The ambitious enterprise will reportedly create 35,000 jobs “once it’s up and running” and bring an extra 15 billion riyals ($4 billion) to the kingdom’s gross domestic product.

Last year, seeking to diversify the economy, Saudi Arabia unveiled a plan known as Vision 2030. Riyadh has made some steps to relax the regulations on its entertainment and tourism industry to boost non-oil income.

The Red Sea Project may also diversify the kingdom’s tourism sector, which traditionally relies on millions of Muslim pilgrims visiting Mecca.

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