Saudi Arabia has launched “The Journey Through Time” masterplan to develop the 200,000 year old area of Al Ula. It will be implemented in three phases with the first phase set to be completed by 2023 and the third phase set to be completed by 2035.
The large-scale project in the North-West of Saudi Arabia has the potential for public-private partnerships with a value of SAR 57 billion (USD 15 billion). It will create 38,000 new jobs and contribute SAR 120 billion (USD 32 billion) to the country in line with the plans to diversify the economy.
The masterplan revolves around the ancient oasis which is home to a number of heritage sites. It includes five districts to serve as waypoints on “The Journey Through Time”. The five districts are the Al Ula Old Town, the ancient kingdoms of Dadan and Lihyan, Jabal Ikmah, Nabataean Horizon and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Hegra Historical City.
The project will include fifteen new attractions for visitors such as museums, galleries and cultural centres. It will be connected by a 20 kilometre long pedestrian-friendly “Wadi of Hospitality”.
The Al Ula Sustainability Charter guides the stakeholders and ensures the consideration of the natural surroundings by adopting a carbon-neutral strategy as well as following circular economy principles. In the end, it will see 80 percent of Al Ula Province designated as nature reserve. The project will contribute to the Saudi Green Initiative by reversing desertification in the area.
Over 9,000 hotel rooms will accommodate two million visitors per year. Each district will offer a range of hospitality options which will include hotels, eco-tourism resorts and exclusive lodges.
It is estimated that SAR 12 billion (USD 3.2 billion) will be spent on the development of the infrastructure in Al Ula Province which will include a 46 kilometre long low-carbon tramway connecting Al Ula’s International Airport to the five districts by following the path of the old Hejaz Railway.
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