Soudah reaching new heights in destination sustainability

Soudah reaching new heights in destination sustainability

Soudah reaching new heights in destination sustainability
Our juniper-clad mountains are what makes the area such an attractive destination for domestic tourism. (SPA)
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Sustainability is the guiding principle for everything we do at Soudah Development — and this is far from greenwashing. More than 90 percent of Saudi Arabia’s forests are located in the Asir region and protecting and restoring our unique ecosystems is an absolute priority.

As a major oil-producing nation, we are fully aware and aligned with the Kingdom’s responsibility to quickly address the global climate crisis and lead the Arab region toward a better and safer future.

Catalyzing a green transformation is a monumental effort that requires collaboration and cooperation from the entire business community, multinational corporations, governments, and citizens.

Here above the clouds in Soudah, we are proud to be a supporter of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s pledge to boost tree planting, reduce carbon emissions, and combat pollution and land degradation. Much of this will come through smart, sustainable, and measured development.

SD has been conducting comprehensive environmental impact assessments to provide a unique window into the area’s natural surroundings, to identify risks, and map out measures to avoid or mitigate them.

Our environmental studies will feed into our master planning, building, and operations and provide a valuable insight into the natural environment and our place in it. They will also ensure that sustainable development becomes the cornerstone for our future luxurious ecotourism mountain destination covering more than 627 square kilometers.

Essentially, our approach to sustainable development covers three pillars.

Firstly, we are focused on strengthening the region’s unique local identity by celebrating local heritage and traditions. It includes using local construction methods and materials to preserve the cultural heritage of the village of Rijal Almaa, and Soudah.

We want to ensure the extraordinary natural resources are protected as we embark upon our journey to create a luxury mountain destination that attracts 2 million people per year and creates thousands of direct and indirect jobs.

Husameddin Al-Madani

We are absolutely taking advantage of the sun and the wind direction to minimize the electricity consumption of every building and reduce carbon emissions. We also use as much as possible recycled materials, such as recycled metal, and low-carbon concrete and we avoid using materials that consume a lot of electricity to produce, such as aluminum and stainless steel. If we use such materials, they are the types made using more environmentally friendly waterfall power.

We are also promoting, wherever possible, traditional architectural techniques such as stonemasonry – one of the oldest professions in human history.

In line with Vision 2030’s sustainability goals, SD is using best-in-class water management practices to minimize water consumption and reduce resource dependency by recycling and reusing water.

Finally, our approach is to leave a minimal impact on nature. This means we work with the environment, not against it, by implementing the principles of climate-resilient green infrastructure and ecosystem restoration. Environmentally responsive design is woven into the fabric of our urban development and architectural design to ensure we create green buildings that optimize water and electricity consumption.

Protecting, preserving, and promoting the area’s cultural and natural heritage falls in line with the objectives under Vision 2030. To this end, we hope to plant 1 million trees by 2030. These efforts will ultimately help sequester at least 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and create new habitats for our unique fauna.

We are proud to be home to a plethora of trees and plant life. Our juniper-clad mountains are what makes the area such an attractive destination for domestic tourism. We believe the sheer volume of greenery across Asir will become a major point of interest for international travelers looking to escape the city and reconnect with nature.

This has only become more pronounced due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, as people look for destinations where they are free to roam around in the great outdoors without bumping into other people. It is, after all, much easier to maintain social distancing on a mountain than on a metro.

We are home to an incredible array of wildlife, too. Our landscape is a major global migratory pathway for more than 200 different species of birds flying across Saudi Arabia. Spend one day 3,015 meters up in the clouds here, and you are likely to see the steppe eagle soaring across the sky or perhaps a griffon vulture gliding through the air. And if you are lucky, you may spot the endangered Asir magpie.

We want to ensure the extraordinary natural resources are protected as we embark upon our journey to create a luxury mountain destination that attracts 2 million people per year and creates thousands of direct and indirect jobs.

Through our smart approach to placemaking, we aim to set new benchmarks in sustainable development to protect the region’s distinctive natural ecosystems, celebrate its ancient cultural heritage, and deliver on Saudi Arabia’s vision for environmental and economic growth.

• Husameddin Al-Madani is the chief executive officer of Soudah Development Co.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view