RIYADH: Construction work on an ambitious Saudi mountain resort has got underway in AlUla.
Making the announcement, Royal Commission for AlUla officials said the Sharaan hotel concept and International Summit Center, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, would aim to meet sustainability goals for the building phase and resort operations.
The development will be built directly into the rock formations of Sharaan Nature Reserve and has been inspired by AlUla’s ancient Nabataean architecture and dramatic desertscape.
During a ceremony at the reserve, an agreement was inked between officials from the RCU and Bouygues Construction, a French engineering group which will manage construction of the resort through a joint venture with Almabani, a leading Saudi engineering firm.
The commission’s development and construction sector is spearheading the project with consultation from Canadian firm WSP and program management support from Saudi company Jasara.
Together they will deliver a destination designed to immerse guests in the natural and cultural heritage of the Sharaan reserve.
Just as the Nabataean civilization carved structures into nearby sandstone more than 2,000 years ago, project chiefs hope the Sharaan resort will carve a new chapter in stone for AlUla’s living museum while preserving the natural scenery and native flora and fauna at the heart of the RCU’s vision.
The new resort will offer 38 suites, a spa and wellness center, kids club, sports complex, an all-day dining restaurant, and business center.
In addition, a signature fine-dining restaurant will sit atop the mountain with panoramic views of Sharaan. A glass elevator will connect the resort with a geologic and artistic experience, offering views of ancient sedimentary layers and niches filled with art and engravings.
Inside an adjacent mountain, the Sharaan International Summit Center will host events and leaders from around the world.
With a completely secure and private environment, its design will enable chance encounters and private interaction for guests with shared leisure activities in an informal setting.
Facilities will include an auditorium, meeting rooms, majlis (sitting room), library, and a sports and leisure area.
Mohammed Altheeb, RCU chief development and construction officer, said: “Sharaan resort is our most ambitious project currently under construction.
“The resort was designed with complete reverence for the human and natural history of AlUla, and we are committed to sustainable building practices in line with this same philosophy.
“The RCU and its partners are excited to unveil a new chapter in the story of these ancient mountains, where guests will experience the wonders of Sharaan Nature Reserve,” he added.