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Tourism masterplan unveiled for Saudi’s highest peak

Mountains in Saudi Arabia's Aseer province. The region is served by Abha airport RSM Chrystie/Creative Commons
Mountains in Saudi Arabia's Aseer province. The region is served by Abha airport
  • First phase to open in 2027
  • Investment centred on Aseer region
  • Target of 8m visitors by 2030

The first of three phases of Soudah Peaks, a luxury mountain tourism destination set 3,015 metres above sea level on Saudi Arabia’s highest peak, will be completed in 2027.

The phase will have 940 hotel rooms, 391 residential units and 32,000 square metres of retail space, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.

Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman launched the masterplan to develop Soudah and parts of Rijal Almaa into Soudah Peaks on Monday.

No financial details were given.

Located in the Aseer region, southwest of the kingdom, the project is a key part of the Public Investment Fund-owned Soudah Development Company’s plan to diversify the economy by expanding industries such as tourism, hospitality and entertainment, to support the Aseer development strategy.

“Soudah Peaks represents a new era of luxury mountain tourism by providing an unprecedented living experience while preserving the natural environment, and cultural and heritage richness,” the crown prince, the chairman of Soudah Development, was quoted as saying.

The project is aligned with Vision 2030 goals of expanding tourism and entertainment, supporting economic growth and attracting investment, the developer said.

Soudah Peaks aims to contribute more than SAR29 billion ($7.7 billion) to the kingdom’s cumulative GDP and to have over 2 million visitors a year by 2033.

The destination will have six development zones: Tahlal, Sahab, Sabrah, Jareen, Rijal and Red Rock.

Each will offer a range of facilities, including hotels, luxury mountain resorts, residential chalets, villas, premium mansion sites, entertainment and commercial attractions, as well as outdoor attractions dedicated to sports, adventure, wellness and culture.

Soudah Development will deliver 2,700 hospitality keys, 1,336 residential units, and 80,000 square meters of commercial space for Soudah Peaks by 2033.  

No details were shared on the second and third phases.

Soudah Peaks covers more than 627 sq km, with less than 1 percent of the land being acquired for building, reflecting the developer’s commitment to protecting and preserving the environment.

Soudah Development was launched in February 2021 and plans to invest $3 billion into infrastructure and tourism projects in the Aseer region.

The mountainous region of Aseer is Saudi Arabia’s next target for tourism investment, according to one of the kingdom’s most prominent industry leaders. 

Developing Aseer and encouraging repeat visits will be key to helping the kingdom meet its tourism goals, said Salman Gassim, government advisor and chief executive of Riyadh-headquartered Swiss Hospitality Company. 

“Saudi Arabia holds limitless possibilities for future tourism hotspots. The lesser-known Aseer region holds a treasure trove of entertainment, cultural immersion and sporting activities,” he told AGBI in July.

Known for its mountainous scenery and green landscapes, Aseer receives the most rainfall in the kingdom. 

The Saudi government wants to transform Aseer into an international destination for sustainable, nature-based tourism.

The aim is to attract eight million visitors by 2030 – three times as many as today – under a $13 million strategy unveiled in 2021.

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