RIYADH: The Red Sea Development Co. will award SR1 billion ($267 million) of contracts a month as it moves to the next phase, including resorts, villas and hotels, Chief Administrative Officer Ahmed Darwish told CNBC Arabia.
Until now the company has been focused on infrastructure and related equipment, which make up most of its completed projects, he said, without saying how long it would maintain the new pace of spending.
The Red Sea Development Co/, wholly owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, is building the Red Sea Project, a 28,000 sq. km sustainable tourism resort featuring more than 90 unspoiled islands along Saudi Arabia’s west coast. By completion in 2030, it will consist of 50 hotels with 8,000 rooms and 1,300 residential properties.
The first phase of 16 hotels across five islands and two inland sites will begin opening in late 2022. The destination will also include luxury marinas, golf courses and recreation facilities.
In June, the company signed a contract with Al-Seef Group to manage the administrative, civil and commercial facilities for over 14,000 employees. In the same month, it appointed Dutch contractor Archirodon to build a 1.2-km bridge linking Shurayrah Island, one of 22 islands in an archipelago, to the mainland.
Speaking at Dubai’s Arabian Travel Market in May, CEO John Pagano said the biggest challenge the developer has is not “messing up the place” and avoiding the “over-tourism” that has traditionally compromised nature-based tourist sites. “At the end of the day, our environment is our most valuable asset. It’s making sure that we balance the desire to build, and build it in a timely fashion, but never to the extent where we put at risk the very thing that will make this place so special,” he said.
To that end, the company hired the Middle East unit of global consultancy firm WSP to provide an environmental and social impact assessment for its Coral Bloom resorts project. WSP Middle East’s work includes identifying habitats affected during the project’s lifecycle to ensure sustainability, regeneration, and preservation.
So far, it has been achieving its goals in that regard, achieving an overall score of 84 out of 100 as part of an environmental assessment used as a benchmark by global investors.
Within the environmental category, the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark awarded it 49 out of 51. The average score achieved is typically 34.
The developer was also awarded a Green Star for achieving a score higher than 50 percent in the management and development components of the assessment. With tourism representing the second most important sector in the Kingdom, TRSDC is spearheading the diversification envisioned by Vision 2030 through a unique, year-round tourism offering that promotes sustainability and environmental enhancement, cultural conservation and economic stimulation.