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Red Sea Global says first hotels are open

An artist's impression of the stainless steel villas at Shebara, Red Sea Global's latest luxury resort Red Sea Global
An artist's impression of the stainless steel villas at Shebara, Red Sea Global's latest luxury resort
  • ‘Paying customers’ at giga-project
  • Two more hotels to open this year
  • Call goes out to material suppliers

Red Sea Global, one of Saudi Arabia’s main giga-projects, said this week it has opened two hotels. 

Ben Edwards, group head of cost, commercial and procurement, said in a conference call on March 20 that Six Senses and St. Regis hotels had opened at the Red Sea Global site south of the remote town of Al-Wajh on the northern Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia.

Two other resorts will open this year, as the country’s vast tourist developments vie to meet ambitious deadlines. 

Formally known as The Red Sea, the area will also open a Ritz Carlton and a Red Sea Global-run resort called Shebara within months – among a total of 50 hotels planned to open there by 2030. 

Shebara features beach or over-water villas in the form of specially made pod-like steel orbs, designed by Killa Design and manufactured in Sharjah by Grankraft Industries. A causeway linking the string of islands to the mainland was completed last year. 

The Amaala resort, located north of Al-Wajh, is due to have 29 hotels by 2030 and include a marina and the Red Sea Marine Life Institute, designed by Foster + Partners. 

Contracts issued so far for the two sites have topped $16 billion, less than the $21 billion valuation made by real estate consultants Knight Frank in a report issued in January. 

“We’re not just talking about it, we’re definitely doing it,” Edwards said, displaying photographs from the sites. “We’ve got paying customers in the first couple of hotels. Next year the launches will be a massive year for us.”  

The Public Investment Fund, which owns most of the giga-projects, is under pressure to maintain funding flows and has already raised $7 billion in bonds this year. The country wants tourism to account for 10 percent of GDP by 2030. 

The government said in December some projects could be delayed until after 2030, creating speculation about which would receive priority and meet deadlines. 

The winter resort of Trojena, inside the Neom giga-project, said this week it would be open in full in 2027 ahead of hosting the Asian Winter Games in 2029, making it Neom’s inaugural site. 

Edwards said Red Sea Global was offering contractors flexible terms within a contracting environment that has improved dramatically over the past decade. 

Liberalisation of the market has ended a system of preferential treatment for Saudi companies, though payment bottlenecks still hamper the sector

“We’ve adopted a construction management approach … so we directly engage with the specialist suppliers and cut out the middleman,” Edwards said, adding that Red Sea Global is on the look-out for suppliers of timber facades and other timber products. 

“Everything is needed. We’ve got a wide range of procurement requirements at any point in time,” he said.

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