EXCLUSIVE: French firm awarded ancient Saudi city planning contract

18 December 2018
Saudi Arabia and France agreed in April to develop and promote Al-Ula’s historical sites

France-based Arep has been awarded the town planning package for the ancient city of Al-Ula located to the north of Medina in Saudi Arabia.

The value of the contract has not been disclosed.

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia approached consultants for a contract to provide programme management services for the development of tourism infrastructure around historical sites in Al-Ula.

Saudi Arabia and France also signed an inter-governmental agreement in April to "protect, develop and promote Al-Ula’s historical and cultural sites."

Located 380 kilometres north of Medina, the 22,000 square-kilometre Al-Ula area has a history dating back thousands of years, to the days when Dadanites, the Lihyanites and Nabateans ruled the area. Later the region was influenced by the Greeks, Romans, and the Ottomans.

It is home to the Nabatean City of Madain Salih, which has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2008.

The development plans are in the early stages and include the construction of roads to provide access to the area as well as hotels and resorts.

The planning is understood to involve several government agencies, including the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage as well as the Public Investment Fund (PIF). There is also a Royal Commission for Al-Ula.

The development plans for Al-Ula will supplement the Red Sea coast development that was launched in mid-2017. It covers 200km of coastline between the cities of Amlaj and Al-Jawh on the western coast of the kingdom.

The area for development is vast and includes a wide range of attractions. These include: 50 natural islands, heritage sites such as the ancient ruins of Madain Saleh, mountains, nature reserves, dormant volcanoes at Harat Alrahat, coastlines and beaches.


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