With 12 luxury brands, The Red Sea leads the way in promoting sustainable tourism

With 12 luxury brands, The Red Sea leads the way in promoting sustainable tourism
The developments of the Red Sea Project will be powered by renewable energy. The company seeks to provide ultra-luxury facilities without disturbing the surrounding nature or the ecosystem of the area. (Photo/Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 07 June 2022

With 12 luxury brands, The Red Sea leads the way in promoting sustainable tourism

With 12 luxury brands, The Red Sea leads the way in promoting sustainable tourism
  • The company believes in safeguarding, developing landscape and shores of the Red Sea

RIYADH: The traditional concept of tourism is now radically changing as many countries are gradually and earnestly promoting and investing in sustainable travel.

But what is sustainable tourism, and why is there such a big hype among countries eager to attract tourists to their natural and untouched habitats?

According to the UN Environment Program and UN World Tourism Organization, sustainable tourism is defined as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”

To underline the importance of sustainable tourism, the UNWTO is holding its 116th session in Jeddah from June 7-8. The main theme naturally is sustainable tourism. 

Proudly sharing TRSDC experience 

The host country Saudi Arabia will surely highlight its achievement in enhancing and promoting sustainable tourism with special emphasis on the Kingdom’s pride — The Red Sea Development Co.

TRSDC plans to open three hotels this year and add 13 more by the end of 2023. The ambitious projects aim to create 120,000 jobs and add SR30 billion to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product, according to the company. Brands already on board include St Regis, Six Senses and more ultra-luxury hotel concepts focusing on sustainability.

The company has achieved an overall score of 91 out of 100 in last year’s environmental, social, and governance assessment by the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark, beating the score of 84 it accomplished in its first-ever assessment in 2020.

In November 2021, the company was given the ESG Initiative of the Year award at The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland’s 2021 Awards.

This followed TRSDC’s launch of its Good Governance Toolkit to guide other organizations in Saudi Arabia on best governance practices.

The company’s top executives realize that safeguarding and developing the landscape and shores of Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea is essential to attract tourists who appreciate the earth’s hidden natural treasure.

Not surprisingly, all hotels and sea resorts, both inland and on the islands, must comply with the strict environmental rules and conditions set by TRSDC. 

John Pagano, CEO of TRSDC

“Sustainability will set us apart… The Red Sea concept is all about building and working with nature,” said John Pagano, CEO of TRSDC, in an interview with Arab News. “Coral reef systems are there. For us, the goal is how to deliver what we need without impacting the environment. My visitors will get to truly immerse themselves in nature.”

AMAALA, under TRSDC’s directive, will also open eco-friendly resorts with an added focus on wellness. The project’s first phase, which includes nine resorts, aims to be complete by the end of 2024. 

Ahmad Ghazi Darwish, chief administrative officer at TRSDC, AMAALA

It is a total focus on protecting the environment, Ahmad Ghazi Darwish, the chief administrative officer at TRSDC and AMAALA, commented.

TRSDC’s drive to meet sustainable tourism criteria  

In its efforts to achieve environmental excellence, TRSDC developed an Environmental Management System, producing an EMS Manual in January 2021. The EMS was rolled out companywide by midyear 2021, supporting the company’s bid for The Red Sea Project to achieve ISO14001:2015 certification.

“TRSDC’s EMS is aimed at guiding and managing TRSDC’s activities with respect to the environment throughout the design, construction, and operational stages. The implementation of the EMS allows TRSDC to identify areas in need of improvement and actively work toward bettering them,” according to the company.

In 2021, the organization became one of the first companies in the Middle East to achieve the ISO 9001:2015 certification for quality management for the design and construction of assets.

TRSDC has also signed a memorandum of understanding with social investment company Ethmar and private foundation Ghoroos that will support TRSP’s social development objectives in numerous ways, including studying and implementing agricultural development opportunities in the project area and helping to strengthen community service and volunteer work initiative.

TRSDC partners with Red Sea Farms 

The company has also partnered with Red Sea Farms, a Saudi Arabian ag-tech business, to develop a sustainable food supply for The Red Sea’s flagship destination using sunlight and saltwater.

Red Sea Farms will build and operate the indoor farm, growing crops to sustainably feed guests and residents at The Red Sea Project. It will become the main supplier to the luxury destination’s resorts and restaurants.

The innovative technology uses sunlight and saltwater to cool greenhouses and grows crops instead of relying on rainfall, fresh groundwater, or desalinated water. This saves up to 300 liters of fresh water per kilogram of produce — a 95 percent saving compared with other ag-tech systems. In addition, the technology has been designed and developed in the Kingdom for use in often challenging environmental conditions.

“This means a reduced impact on the environment and a significant cost saving for growers. It also results in more nutritious crops while also providing a richer taste, flavor and texture,” according to TRSDC.

Partnering with Blue Planet Ecosystem

The company’s endeavor to protect the Kingdom’s ecology was also climaxed by another MoU with Blue Planet Ecosystems in October 2021.

“The Land-based Automated Recirculating Aquaculture system works by replicating natural aquatic ecosystems in a modular and automated system. LARA converts carbon dioxide directly into chemical-free seafood using phyto and zooplankton as transitional stages. It is constructed of a tower of three horizontal units. The top unit uses the sun’s energy to grow microalgae which powers the entire system. The microalgae are then moved to the next unit, where it nourishes zooplankton. The zooplankton is then transported to the bottom unit, where it’s eaten by fish,” TRSDC explained.

It added that the project’s first phase would be implemented as a 3.500m2 pilot to assess whether conditions at TRSP are suitable for the solution to work effectively and efficiently. This will be the first LARA pilot in the Middle East to undergo a commercial trial.

Investing in renewable energy

Last year, TRSDC made great strides in its mission to build the world’s largest tourism spot powered by renewable energy on Saudi Arabia’s west coast.

In December 2021, a Saudi ACWA Power-led consortium secured $1.33 billion of financing to operate the renewable power-based multi-utilities infrastructure that will serve the site.

The multibillion-dollar project, based between Umluj and Al Wajh, covers 28,000 sq. km — an area the size of Belgium — which includes over 90 untouched islands, miles of desert dunes and mountain landscapes.

Abu Dhabi overcomes global challenges registering 11.2% GDP growth in H1: SCAD

Abu Dhabi overcomes global challenges registering 11.2% GDP growth in H1: SCAD
Updated 51 min 7 sec ago

Abu Dhabi overcomes global challenges registering 11.2% GDP growth in H1: SCAD

Abu Dhabi overcomes global challenges registering 11.2% GDP growth in H1: SCAD

RIYADH: Reflecting Abu Dhabi’s robust performance and the ability of the economy to sustain growth despite global economic challenges, data released by the Statistics Centre – Abu Dhabi, shows expansion of the emirate’s gross domestic product in the first half of 2022 to 11.2 percent compared to the same period last year. 

The quarterly GDP growth rate reached its highest value in six years during the second quarter of 2022 when it hit 11.7 percent compared to the same quarter last year, according to estimates reported by SCAD. 

At the end of the first half of 2022, the real GDP value (at constant prices) exceeded 543 billion dirhams ($148 billion), and the value of the non-oil sectors’ GDP increased 28.4 billion dirhams compared to the same period last year to reach 273 billion dirhams in total. 

Furthermore, the statistical estimates reveal that all non-oil economic activities and sectors showed positive growth rates at constant prices during the first half of 2022, most notably, the health and social work activity rising at a rate of 29.9 percent. This was followed by accommodation and food services at a rate of 29.3 percent, and professional, scientific and support services at a rate of 27.2 percent. The emirate's wholesale and retail trade activity also recorded a positive growth at a rate of 23.7 percent, whereas real estate activities grew at a rate of 19.1 percent. Abu Dhabi's electricity, gas, water, and waste management registered a growth rate of 18.0 percent, followed by 13.8 percent for transportation and storage. 

The leading economic activities that contributed to the GDP of Abu Dhabi at constant prices during the first half of 2022 included manufacturing activities with the contribution of 8.1 percent, while showing a growth rate of 10.2 percent, according to the results.
In addition, the construction and building activity contributed to the real GDP with 7.7 percent, and achieved a growth rate of 6.9 percent, followed by the wholesale and retail trade activity that contributed 5.9 percent to the GDP.
The financial and insurance activities contributed 5.5 percent to the GDP, with a growth rate of 9.1 percent during the first half of 2022 compared to the same period last year. 

Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, said, “Economy’s positive growth rates in Abu Dhabi reflect the profound strength and success of the economic diversification policy, which contributed to the economy’s resilience and ability to address global changes posed by geopolitical and economic factors that directly affected strategic sectors such as energy and international trade.” 

He added: “The Abu Dhabi economy continues to reap the benefits of the effective policies guided by the wise leadership to strengthen the pillars and foundations of the economy, maintaining a competitive performance while attracting investments with more initiatives to achieve the strategic objectives of Abu Dhabi.” 

According to data released by SCAD, the mining and quarrying activities (including crude oil and natural gas) contributed 49.7 percent to the real GDP of Abu Dhabi during the first half of 2022, which means non-oil activities contributed 50.3 percent at constant prices defying the noticeable increases of global oil prices during the same period.
The increase in the non-oil sector’s contribution to the real GDP bears testimony to the success of the ambitious strategic plans for diversifying the economic base in Abu Dhabi. 

TVTC zeroes in on tourism with more than 6k Saudis training for roles in key Vision 2030 sector

TVTC zeroes in on tourism with more than 6k Saudis training for roles in key Vision 2030 sector
Updated 28 November 2022

TVTC zeroes in on tourism with more than 6k Saudis training for roles in key Vision 2030 sector

TVTC zeroes in on tourism with more than 6k Saudis training for roles in key Vision 2030 sector

RIYADH: More than 6,000 Saudis are currently being trained up for technical roles in the Kingdom’s growing tourism industry, according to the government agency leading the charge.

Saudi Arabia's Technical and Vocational Training Corp. has announced it is currently training 6,189 people in preparation for jobs in the tourism and hotel industries.

The Kingdom’s tourism sector continues to grow, with the Kingdom expecting to attract 100 million annual visitors and creating one million jobs by 2030.

TVTC spokesperson Fahad Alotaibi said the entity focuses on designing and providing specialized training programs to train citizens to work in this sector and lead its facilities through diversified training programs in the tourism and hospitality fields.

TVTC's aims align with Saudi Vision 2030, under which efforts are exerted to cut the unemployment rate in the Kingdom from 11.6 percent to 7 percent by 2030.

In August this year, TVTC announced that it had received more than 230,000 trainees — new starters and returnees — in over 260 training facilities and partnership institutes distributed throughout the Kingdom.

To achieve its Vision 2030 goals, Saudi Arabia is not only encouraging the recruitment of nationals to private sector jobs, but is also encouraging adequate investment in their future to ensure their retention by employers as well as their contribution to a vibrant and diverse economy.

Saudization, officially known as the Saudi nationalization scheme, or Nitaqat, is considered a crucial step towards economic success.

Saudi Arabia launched the ‘Saudization’ labor market strategy to enhance the economic participation of its citizens, with the aim of reaching 60 percent by 2030.

Although the process of Saudization has been going on since 1985, major regulatory and economic reforms have accelerated in recent years under the Vision 2030 agenda, with the aim of increasing the participation of young Saudis in the economy, promoting non-oil sectors and improving the overall quality of life.

According to Saudi Arabia's Central Department of Statistics and Information, the unemployment rate in the Kingdom decreased to 5.80 percent in the second quarter of 2022 from 6 percent in the first quarter of 2022.

Vision 2030 promotes Saudi women as an important part of the Kingdom’s strength. It aims to develop their talents, invest their energies, and provide them with the right opportunities to build their futures, contributing to the development of society.

Saudi women now comprise 33.6 percent of the Saudi workforce as of March 2022, according to the General Authority for Statistics. That figure is up from 17.4 percent just five years ago.

The unemployment rate of women was the lowest in 20 years as of the first quarter of 2022, falling to 20.2 percent from 22.5 percent during the fourth quarter of 2021.

WTTC members to invest $10.5 billion in Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector over next 5 years

WTTC members to invest $10.5 billion in Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector over next 5 years
Updated 5 min 55 sec ago

WTTC members to invest $10.5 billion in Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector over next 5 years

WTTC members to invest $10.5 billion in Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector over next 5 years

RIYADH: The World Travel and Tourism Council will invest $10.5 billion in Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector, as the Kingdom steadily evolves as a global tourist destination in line with the goals outlined in Vision 2030, according to Julia Simpson, president and CEO of WTTC. 

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the WTTC Global Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 28, Simpson noted that Saudi Arabia is showing incredible commitment to developing the tourism sector, and is planning to attract 100 million visitors globally by 2030. 

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism Ahmad Al-Khateeb said the sector is still recovering from the pandemic, but the number of international arrivals in the Kingdom has already climbed to 70 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels. 

“I am proud of the progress we made in building resilience in this sector. We believe in the power of partnership, and we want to bring the global community together. Saudi Arabia is the fastest growing destination in the world,” said Al-Khateeb. 

WTTC also announced that American actor, environmentalist and entrepreneur Edward Norton will be a keynote seeker at its global summit in Riyadh on Nov. 30.

Norton, who has been a long-time advocate for sustainable business practices, will speak about the vitality of maintaining healthy environmental operational standards in the tourism sector as he will be in a conversation with Saudi Tourism Authority CEO Fahd Hamidaddin during the event, according to a press release.

“It is clear that people who have such a global platform as Edward Norton help to transcend borders and reinforce the work that we do in promoting sustainable development strategies and we are delighted he is with us at the WTTC Summit in Riyadh,” said Hamidaddin.

This year’s WTTC Global Summit is being organized at the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Center under the theme “Travel for a Better Future.”

Some other prominent personalities who will speak at the summit include former UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Jerry Inzerillo — Group CEO of Diriyah Gate Development Authority, and Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai International Airports. 

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will also address delegates in person during the event. In October, Al-Khateeb said that Riyadh is set to become the capital of the global tourism industry, and the tourist destinations in the Kingdom are being built and will operate in a sustainable manner. 

“We have the vision, we put the plan, and we put all the resources, especially the financial resources to deliver the plan,” said Al-Khateeb.

King Salman International Airport masterplan announced by Crown Prince

King Salman International Airport masterplan announced by Crown Prince
Updated 15 min 15 sec ago

King Salman International Airport masterplan announced by Crown Prince

King Salman International Airport masterplan announced by Crown Prince

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is set to build one of the world’s largest airports in what will be a huge boost for the Kingdom’s ambition to become a global hub for trade and tourism, according to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz.

The King Salman International Airport, located in Riyadh, will have six parallel runways, and is expected to contribute SR27 billion ($7.18 billion) annually to Saudi Arabia’s non-oil gross domestic product.

The airport will help drive annual passenger traffic in Saudi Arabia from the current 29 million to 120 million travelers by 2030 and 185 million by 2050, with aircraft traffic in the Kingdom increasing from 211,000 to more than 1 million flights per year.

With sustainability at its core, the new airport will achieve LEED Platinum certification by incorporating cutting edge green initiatives into its design and will be powered by renewable energy, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

The development, set to be built by the Public Investment Fund, will include the existing terminals named after King Khalid, with the capacity to process 3.5 million tons of cargo by 2050.

The SPA report added it will become an aerotropolis centered around a seamless customer journey, world-class efficient operations, and innovation. Riyadh’s identity and the Saudi culture will be taken into consideration in the airport’s design to ensure a unique travel experience for visitors and transit travelers.

"The airport project is in line with Saudi Arabia's vision to transform Riyadh to be among the top ten city economies in the world and to support the growth of Riyadh's population to 15–20 million people by 2030," SPA said.

It added King Salman airport would create 103,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The new airport is part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 drive (PIF)

It did not give details on the planned investments but a person familiar with the plans has told Reuters the PIF's aviation department is getting hefty funds to create an ecosystem of cargo and passenger airlines, repair companies and airports.

The 77-year-old state airline Saudia will be based out of the Red Sea city Jeddah under the transportation strategy that calls for the establishment of the two hubs.

The kingdom is already in talks with planemakers Airbus SE and Boeing Co on orders for the two carriers Saudia and RIA.

The announcement comes on the eve of the World Travel and Tourism Global Summit, set to begin in Riyadh on Nov. 28.

Touted to be one of the biggest tourism events of the year, the global summit is being organized at the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Center under the theme “Travel for a Better Future."

During the event, industry leaders will share their thoughts about the future of the sector and the challenges that should be addressed to ensure a safer, more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable travel and tourism industry. 

Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan review bilateral trade cooperation in high level meeting 

Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan review bilateral trade cooperation in high level meeting 
Updated 28 November 2022

Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan review bilateral trade cooperation in high level meeting 

Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan review bilateral trade cooperation in high level meeting 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan reiterated their commitment to strengthening bilateral relations in a meeting between Ismatilla Ergashev, the special envoy of Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and Saudi Fund for Development CEO Sultan Abdulrahman Al-Marshad in Riyadh. 

The visit focused on reviewing the development projects and programs funded by SFD in the central Asian country.

According to the Saudi Press Agency, the two sides reviewed development topics of common interest and discussed possible opportunities for development projects in Uzbekistan. 

The SFD has supported the government of Uzbekistan with several development loans. It has contributed to financing the implementation of 11 projects across several sectors, including health, education, roads, irrigation, drinking water and housing, with a total amount of $276 million.  

Five projects have been completed, and six are underway. In 2011, Uzbekistan and the SDF inked a deal to finance the work on the reconstruction of the Guzar-Chim-Kukdala highway. The fund allocated $30 million for this project.  

Bilateral relations between the two nations received a considerable boost when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in Jeddah in August. 

During the meeting, the two nations inked several deals worth over SR45 billion ($12 billion), including a wind project in Uzbekistan by ACWA Power.  

The agreements also covered a range of investment sectors, including air transport services, livestock, agriculture, sports, education, science, media, energy and technology. 

“There has also been a significant emphasis on economic ties between the two countries. An excellent example of this affiliation is between the Saudi company ACWA Power and the Ministry of Investments and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan, which envisaged designing, financing, building, and operating a thermal power plant for 25 years,” Komil Rashidov, a professor of international law at the University of World Economy and Diplomacy said in an article written for Arab News to mark the meeting.

As part of the project, ACWA Power will attract $1.2 billion in direct investment and create more than 1,000 jobs during the construction and operation phases. Additionally, the power plant will produce 12 billion kilowatt-hours of additional electricity annually. This facility will be commissioned in the fourth quarter of 2023.