Reema Al-Mokhtar, Director – Travel Trade Marketing, Discusses How Red Sea Global is Shaping the Future of Travel in Saudi Arabia

Lara Mansour   |   01-09-2023


Mega-project developer Red Sea Global (RSG) has set out to change the face of tourism in the Red Sea region of Saudi Arabia, leading to a more sustainable future with the responsible development of its projects.


Under Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, RSG is in the process of creating ground-breaking developments that will enhance the country’s economy and drive tourism to the beautiful Red Sea region of Saudi Arabia. The Group’s projects strongly focus on sustainability, with a unique and modern way of developing areas that enrich the community and natural landscape but will invite international tourists to discover more of the undiscovered region. 


Two of the group’s biggest projects, The Red Sea and Amaala are set to become the first to be completed later this year. These two luxury regenerative tourism destinations will set new standards in sustainable development and position Saudi Arabia on the global tourism map. Reema Al-Mokhtar, Director – Travel Trade Marketing, is tasked with driving global travel trade marketing and increasing awareness and visitation to the destinations, in cooperation with the strategy of the local representation companies on international markets. Here, we find out more about the mega-projects and what they will bring to the country. 



Ummahat Islands – Overwater Villa


What can you tell us about the progress of Red Sea Global’s destinations and where they are at today?


July 2023 marked six years since The Red Sea was first announced by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman as an international tourist destination as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. Now, we are preparing to unveil The Red Sea destination to the world, as our first three hotels and phase one of our solar-powered international airport are on track to open this year.


Opening this year are the inland resort Six Senses Southern Dunes, The Red Sea, and our two resorts on Ummahat Island, the St. Regis Red Sea Resort and Nujuma, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve. This represents a huge milestone for The Red Sea, as it will become the first of Saudi Arabia’s original giga-projects to receive visitors. 


Following this, a further 13 resorts of phase one will open in 2024. Infrastructure works are well advanced at our second inland location, Desert Rock, a unique mountain resort being built into the rockface, which is more than 50 percent complete overall. Work is ongoing on all 11 resorts and infrastructure across our hub island, Shura. Red Sea Global (RSG) continues to maximise off-site manufacturing, with precast structures progressing rapidly. On Sheybarah Island, RSG has installed all 38 stainless steel overwater villas. The first beach villas have arrived at the island and are now being installed.


Additionally, we will open Red Sea International Airport (RSI) later this year, initially for domestic flights and by next year for international flights. Created with a sustainable approach in mind, guests are guaranteed a seamless and luxurious journey as they arrive to and depart from their hotels at The Red Sea or Amaala. RSI will be pioneering a new operational approach to reduce the time spent completing the arrival or departure process by removing the baggage claims process. Instead, luggage will be delivered directly to guests’ hotel rooms.


At Amaala, Phase One, which is focused on the Triple Bay master plan, is well underway, with our first guests to be welcomed in 2025. It will consist of eight resorts offering upwards of 1,200 hotel keys. We recently announced five major hospitality partnerships at Amaala: Clinique La Prairie, Jayasom, Rosewood, Six Senses and Equinox.




How does the project align with the Saudi Vision 2030?


Tourism is an integral driver for economic diversification in line with Vision 2030. Destinations like The Red Sea and Amaala will make the unique coasts and natural landscapes of Saudi Arabia accessible to visitors in a way that was not previously possible. They will play a fundamental role in positioning the Kingdom as a leading global destination and putting Saudi Arabia squarely on the map of international luxury tourism. 


RSG’s goals include creating a vibrant society and building a thriving economy through community-focused initiatives supporting youth empowerment and upskilling. We’re committed to providing job opportunities for ambitious men and women in the Kingdom, with our two existing projects set to create upwards of 120,000 direct and indirect jobs. Indeed, as we look to welcome our first guests later this year, we are hiring around 100 people each month to fill a wide range of roles, from hospitality staff, water sports managers, and dive centre instructors to sustainability reporters, interior designers, and data analysts. Many of these roles will be filled by Saudi nationals who have come up through our graduate and vocational training programs.


The Red Sea and Amaala are expected to contribute around 33 billion riyals annually to Saudi Arabia’s economy upon completion.



Six Senses Southern Dunes


What goals do you hope to achieve with the project upon completion?


We are developing two of the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism destinations to bring together luxury, nature, and sustainability in unparalleled experiences. Through our breathtaking and diverse topographies, our goal is to welcome both domestic and international travellers and make Saudi Arabia a highly sought-after global destination. A destination that surprises, excites, and is admired by all. We are committed to enhancing habitats in ways that continually renew the environment, adopting and developing pioneering technologies that optimise operational efficiencies, and using scientific research, data, and technology to make informed decisions. 



What more can you tell us about the project from a sustainability angle?


The Red Sea and Amaala are the first-of-their-kind destinations in Saudi Arabia, where travellers can explore one of the world’s last true hidden treasures with their pristine islands and thriving marine life. But to ensure we open these gateways responsibly; we are transforming the industry through pioneering regenerative tourism. Regenerative tourism is not just about following sustainable practices; it seeks to improve the environment in the area being developed, which benefits the local community and the economy overall. We have several key projects underway, such as our plan to plant and restore as many as 50 million mangrove trees and our innovative floating coral nurseries to enhance our coral reefs. 


Once fully operational, our resorts will send zero waste to landfills with our sustainable waste management system. We are also set to power both destinations with 100% renewable energy 24/7, and The Red Sea will become the world’s largest tourism destination run solely on clean power. 


Our sustainable practices will also trickle down to guest experiences – from banning single-use plastics to exploring a smart and sustainable mobility network with electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, such as electric bikes, at our resorts. We’re also exploring experiences that allow guests to be part of making a difference, and to avoid over-tourism, we are capping annual visitors to The Red Sea at one million and 500,000 at Amaala from 2030 onwards. 


Ultimately, our ambitions are aligned with national net-zero carbon emission strategies and the Saudi Green Initiative and are the key to protecting the natural environment for future generations.  



Six Senses Southern Dunes – Villa



Tell us a little more about the Amaala project.


Amaala is our integrated wellness haven located on the north-western coast of Saudi Arabia. It spans over 4,155 sq km and is set to evolve the concept of luxury travel with an exceptional well-being offering inspired by the purity of the Red Sea. It is a year-round destination with a pristine landscape, diverse natural ecosystems, and unbridled access to local culture and heritage. 


Supported by world-class resorts, residential establishments, and recreational facilities,

Amaala will be ready to welcome its first guests by 2025. We have already announced the first five sensational resorts: Clinique La Prairie, Jayasom, Rosewood, Six Senses, and most recently, Equinox Resort.


Two of Amaala’s signature attractions will be the Red Sea Marine Life Institute – an educational and scientific research centre designed by world-renowned architects Foster + Partners – and the Triple Bay Marina Yacht Club, which is set to become an international hub for luxury yachting.  






How do you think these developments will help to raise Saudi Arabia’s profile as a tourist destination?


We are ready to deliver countless extraordinary moments on our journey to positioning Saudi Arabia proudly on the world stage as a must-visit luxury destination offering diverse typography, colourful culture, a strong economy, exceptional experiences, and a full-year calendar of events that caters to all. Both The Red Sea and Amaala are setting new benchmarks for tourism. They provide a unique blend of immersive experiences that combines a spectacular natural environment, a creatively designed built environment, easy access to unique cultural heritage sites, and the highest standards of personalised luxury service.



Shura Island


Who is the audience you are trying to attract?


The Red Sea and Amaala are carefully designed destinations catering to affluent travellers, from honeymooners and adventure seekers to wellness enthusiasts, families, and more, where guests will enjoy cherished transformative experiences. Our destinations span an incredibly diverse area, ranging from idyllic islands and vibrant coral reefs to majestic mountains, dormant volcanoes, and dramatic desert dunes. There’s nothing like The Red Sea or Amaala anywhere else in the world! We expect our first batches of guests to come from Saudi and the surrounding GCC region. As we go into 2024 and beyond, we expect a 50-50 split between GCC and international visitors.



What are the biggest challenges you face with the projects today?


Saudi Arabia has various strengths, such as its historical heritage and the biodiversity of the Red Sea, yet these are often not well known abroad. Our aim is to show the world the many delights that Saudi has to offer. We will soon launch our destination campaign, inviting the world to visit The Red Sea, and challenge their expectations, to see beyond


Another challenge is developing in such a remote, diverse, and vast landscape while ensuring the environment is protected at all costs. However, this is a challenge we have faced head-on, allowing us to set new standards for sustainable development. When guests arrive, we hope they will be amazed at the exquisite nature and beautiful resorts and how they complement one another.



Can you tell us a little more about the Mangrove Nursery and why this is a key project in the vision of the country’s development?


The conservation and establishment of a sustainable mangrove ecosystem is a vital part of our commitment to protect and enhance the natural environment of our destinations. Mangrove trees are among the most efficient plants for carbon sequestration, which can absorb 5-10 times more carbon than other plants. As such, the successful cultivation of seedlings is a central pillar in our ambition to achieve a 30% net conservation benefit by 2040 across our destinations and plant 50 million mangrove trees by 2030.


Established in partnership with the National Center for Vegetation Cover (NCVC), the nursery has successfully cultivated 150,000 seedlings to date, with the goal of growing a total of 500,000 seedlings. These seedlings will then be planted across RSG’s projects. 


The dedicated mangrove parks will be open for guests to explore and learn more about the important contribution of mangrove trees to the ecosystem when The Red Sea destination opens to its first visitors later this year.



Shura Island


In this issue, we celebrate Saudi National Day – what does this day mean to you and the company?


As a Saudi national, I feel great pride and responsibility towards my country. Guided by the ambitious Vision 2030 framework that sets a bold blueprint for a revitalised future for this great nation, RSG is set to be a significant contributor to diversifying the Saudi economy. Through destinations like The Red Sea and Amaala, we are paving the way for new industries to thrive on Saudi soil and attracting strong Saudi talent through various opportunities within the Kingdom.


We are embarking on an exciting journey to spotlight the Red Sea coast as a platform for the regeneration, revival, and resurgence of the Kingdom’s rich natural and cultural heritage. We are developing the nation’s luxury tourism sector, bringing opportunities to the people of Saudi Arabia, and opening an undiscovered destination for the world to experience a deeper understanding and appreciation of our country.



What is the professional motto you live by?


Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled, and that has made all the difference.” By Robert Frost.