Q&A by Amaala CEO Nicholas Naples
Q: What is the Amaala?
Amaala is a new tourism destination on the pristine Red Sea coast of northwestern Saudi Arabia specialising in wellness, health and meditation. It is anchored around three pillars: wellness and sports; art and culture; and sun, sea and lifestyle. It will also utilise the unique heritage and geological points of interest in the region.
The project will provide a year-round destination with a unique heritage and landscape, pristine ecosystems and world-class yachting opportunities. With proximity to regional destinations including Marrakech, Petra, Cairo, Beirut, Dubai and Istanbul, Amaala will become the heart of a new Middle East riviera.
Its unparalleled marine life makes it a world-leading diving spot. In addition, it will be a breath-taking yachting destination, extending the Mediterranean yachting season by providing year-round berthing. Four marinas are planned as part of the development.
Amaala covers more than 3,800 square kilometres and features three distinct zones:
- Triple Bay: The region’s first integrated sports and wellness community, offering a holistic wellness retreat.
- The Coastal Development: Hosting a programme of exciting events from the global arts and cultural calendar, this coastline will be a gathering place for a community of influencers and connoisseurs, featuring a contemporary arts museum and cultural district, to become an arts epicentre of the Middle East.
- The Island: A residential hub designed around four design elements: contemporary art; a riviera-lifestyle colony of artists; immersive artistic moments; and sculpture. The Island will offer Arabic botanical gardens showcasing master works of art and sculpture. An artists’ village will host an active arts community supported by beachfront resorts and marinas.
Q: Who are the visitors that will come to Amaala?
We expect it to become a desirable holiday destination for discerning travellers from around the world interested in wellness, healthy living and meditation. The exclusivity of the destination will make Amaala a destination for the connoisseurs of fine living and the climate makes it suitable for vacations or yacht mooring any time of the year. The primary tourists we expect will be from India, China, Russia and the UAE.
Q: Are you looking for investors or operators to come on board?
The initial seed funding has been provided by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is spearheading the development of Amaala into a bespoke hospitality experience. We are in discussion with several private sector companies, world-class operators and market investors specialised in hospitality and well oriented with Amaala’s bespoke experience. They will not only be invited to invest but also to operate the project’s facilities.
Q: Is Amaala connected with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030?
Amaala is central to the delivery of Vision 2030 and forms part of a wider narrative in which Saudi Arabia is building new locations that meet the highest international standards. Amaala will be part of a new Red Sea ecosystem, which includes Neom and the Red Sea Project. All of the developments on the Red Sea are intended to co-exist in a complementary manner to cover different target audiences by providing a variety of offerings to match their needs.
The development will preserve its natural surroundings through its commitment to sustainability and research into new conservation practices. A marine life institute will undertake research programmes that seek to preserve the area’s pristine corals and marine wildlife.
Amaala is focused on developing new economies and driving employment in new economic sectors such as wellness, healthy living and sports, art and culture; and sea, sun and lifestyle.
Q: What is the status of the project?
Since Amaala was announced at the Monaco Yacht Show 2018, we have made swift progress through many of the administrative stages necessary for a project of this scale. The masterplan for Amaala has been approved by the government and we are working with world-class suppliers and contractors to bring the vision to life.
We have brought on board global architects and designers to develop world-class facilities in a sustainable manner while enhancing the natural landscape. Amaala will target more than 2,500 hotel keys and 700 residential villas, apartments and estate homes, plus over 200 high-end retail establishments boasting an eclectic mix of galleries, ateliers, artisan workshops and bespoke retail shops supported by a wide range of international and local signature dining venues. We are also partnering with global organisers to offer golfing and equestrian experiences.
Q: What milestones can we expect in the coming year?
Over the next 12 months, we look forward to the official ground-breaking, another appearance at the Monaco Yacht Show, and the beginning of construction. While many of our previous milestones have been ‘behind-the-scenes’, we will now see progress unfold. We are also planning to be at a series of events, such as the Global Wellness Conference, where we can share our point of view on key issues related to the development of the hospitality and tourism industry in the kingdom and Amaala’s role.