The Red Sea project

Source: Arab News

Dec 12, 2017

Fact Sheet

The Red Sea project

The Red Sea project will be a luxury resort destination situated across the islands of alagoon and steeped in nature and culture. It will set new standards for sustainabledevelopment and bring about the next generation of luxury travel to put Saudi Arabiaon the international tourism map.

Location and resources

The Red Sea project is located along the Western coast of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,between the cities of Umluj and Al Wajh. The area is characterized by its year-roundtemperate climate, with average summer temperatures reaching up to 31°C.

Envisioned as an exquisite luxury resort destination established across 50 untouchednatural islands in a lagoon that stretches along 200 kilometers of stunning coastline,

The Red Sea will be situated on the site of one of the world’s last natural hiddentreasures.

The project will form an archipelago that is home to environmentally protected coralreefs, mangroves, and several endangered marine species, including the hawksbill seaturtle. It also boasts dormant volcanoes, the most recently active of which has arecorded history of activity dating back to the 17th century AD. In addition, The Red

Sea project’s nature reserve is inhabited by rare wildlife including Arabian leopards,

Arabian wolves, Arabian wildcats, and falcons.

Tourists will also be able to visit the ancient ruins at Mada’in Saleh, which date backthousands of years, and are renowned for their beauty and historical significance. It isalso the first heritage location in Saudi Arabia to be classified as UNESCO WorldHeritage site.

Project Features

The Red Sea will serve as a center of the wellness movement and a showcase for ahealthy, engaged, and vibrant society. Visitors to The Red Sea resort will enjoy plentyof sunshine, pristine white sandy beaches, and for the more adventurous, various eco,historical, and cultural excursions, both on land and in the sea.

The resort will also offer popular activities including water sports – with The Red Seafamed for being one of the world’s best dive sites. In addition to extreme sports –parachuting, trekking, and rock climbing – as well as culturally enriching visits to theArab Heritage Museum and the ArcheologyCenter.

Targeting local, regional, and international tourists, The Red Sea project is projected towelcome one million visitors per annum by 2035, with the yearly number of visitorscapped in order to protect the ecosystem and preserve the area’s natural habitat. Toachieve this ambitious goal, the newly mapped semi-autonomous area will be governedby laws on par with international standards that will include no visa requirements formost nationalities. In addition, the regulatory framework of this project will set newstandards for sustainable development and environmental protection, to ensure theconservation of the Kingdom’s natural environment in accordance with the higheststandards of ecological best practice.

 

 

Project Timeline

The initial groundbreaking of The Red Sea project is expected in the third quarter of

  1. Completion of phase one of the project is anticipated by the last quarter of 2022,including the development of hotels and luxury residential units, as well as all logisticalinfrastructure – including air, land, and sea transport hubs.

Socio-economic Impact

With tourism representing the second most important sector in Saudi Arabia, The RedSea will spearhead the diversification of the Kingdom’s leisure industry. As outlined inVision 2030, the project also aims to diversify the Kingdom’s tourism offerings to createa year-round hospitality sector, while promoting cultural conservation and economicstimulation through local and international investments and spending. This is projectedto achieve a contribution of SAR 15 billion per annum to the Kingdom’s GDP, in additionto creating up to 35,000 jobs, once it is up and running.

Saudi city of al-Jahwa stands tall after 4,000 years

SOURCE:  Al Arabiya English

Time: October 01, 2017

The ancient city of al-Jahwa is located on the south of Wadi al-Namas and was known to have been inhabited by the Bani Bakr tribe.

The city has been profiled by the prolific author al-Hamadani in his book “The features of the Arabian Peninsula”. It the book, al-Hamadani says Jahwa is larger than the city of Jarash and was the base of a small Sultanate until 320 AH. The remnants of its ancient bases and its huge wall, which was built with large stones, still stand today.

Jahwa’s old market, known as the al-Rass market, has nothing left after years of urban and agricultural encroachments. The remaining monuments at the city include furnaces and iron slag, which indicate that the inhabitants of the ancient city of Jahwa practiced iron mining as well.

Jahwa is strategically located, as it is characterized by the surrounding mountains and its fertile soil. It is close to the Shefa Tihama, whose people went shopping in the markets during the winters through the old Yahween (Jahween) Aqaba, a route to the town of Khatt in the Tihama valleys.

The city has not enjoyed the historical recognition in the fields of exploration and tourism, although it is one of the oldest cities in Saudi Arabia. It is also considered one of the earliest civilized cities, with the earliest inhabitants dating back almost 2,300 years ago. After the destruction of the Marib dam, its first inhabitants fled from Yemen.

Some reports have indicated that the city was inhabited even earlier than that, as per what Lebanese historian Kamal al-Salibi discovered. If what he said is true, the city will have more than 4,000 years old of history to its name.

Saudi Arabia to make historic Red Sea coast new global tourism destination

Time: August 8, 2017

Qasr al Farid, a tomb at the pre-Islamic archeological site of Madain Saleh, Saudi Arabia (Richard.hargas/Creative Commons)

In its latest move to diversify away from oil, Saudi Arabia has announced an ambitious plan to turn a vast area of its western Red Sea coast into a tourism hot spot featuring 50 pristine islands, white sandy beaches, and pre-Islamic history and culture.

Called the Red Sea Project, the plan launched by the young Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman last week envisages a dedicated new airport and sea port to draw high-end sun and culture seekers to an area covering some 34,000 square kilometres – an area bigger than Belgium – on the Red Sea coast between the cities of Umluj and Al Wajh.

Attractions will include a protected nature reserve, coral reefs, the extinct volcanoes of Harrat Al-Rahat and, inland, the ruins of of Madain Saleh (pictured above), a Unesco World Heritage Site with structures dating to the pre-Islamic Nabatean Kingdom of the 1st century AD.

“Heritage sites will … be restored on a scientific basis to be ready for visitors,” reported the Saudi Gazette.

“If you can’t change restrictions on alcohol and dress, that market effectively disappears”– Crispin Hawes, Teneo Intelligence

Funded by the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, which is chaired by the 31-year-old Bin Salman, the Red Sea Project will try and lure international hotel companies to build seaside resorts on the coast and pristine islands.

The scheme is expected to create 35,000 jobs and inject annual revenues of $4bn (15 billion riyals) into the Saudi economy when it is “up and running”, according to a government statement on the project sent to Bloomberg.

On 1 August the official Saudi Press Agency said: “The foundation will be laid in the third quarter of 2019 and the first phase will be completed in the last quarter of 2022, a time which will see the development of the airport, the port, the development of hotels and luxury residences, the completion of facilities and infrastructure, and transport services (boats, water jets, etc.).”

What about alcohol?

The Saudi Gazette notes that tourism is a key plank of the kingdom’s “Vision 2030” economic plan launched by Bin Salman in April 2016. While tourism in Saudi Arabia now revolves almost exclusively around Islamic religious pilgrimages, the Red Sea Project “will contribute to a qualitative shift in the concept of tourism and hospitality”, the Gazettesaid.

Analysts, however, are asking whether the strictly Muslim country will relax rules on alcohol and dress in order to cater for the international tourism market, as Egypt has done on the other side of the Red Sea.

“If you can’t change restrictions on alcohol and dress, that market effectively disappears,” Crispin Hawes, London-based managing director at Teneo Intelligence, told Bloomberg. He added that the government will need to “get through the cultural and legal hurdles”.

The question will be a test for the energetic and reform-minded Bin Salman, who was unexpectedly elevated to the position of crown prince in June this year by his father King Salman. That move deposed the incumbent crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef, King Salman’s nephew, in a departure from Saudi dynastic precedent.

Saudi Arabia’s undeveloped mountainous Red Sea coast glimpsed from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula (Leonid Spektor/Dreamstime)

But Bin Salman’s plan won the public backing of the kingdom’s Minister of Culture and Information, Dr. Awad bin Saleh Al-Awad, who statedthrough the official press agency that “this project represents great addition to the development and renaissance projects in our country”.

Cities in the sand

Equally challenging for the crown prince will be just getting the project phases built and making it all pay. Saudi Arabia has attempted the wholesale implantation of new economic sectors by the construction of new “cities” in the desert since 2005, with limited success so far.

Chief among these is King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC). Launched in 2005 on the Red Sea coast north of Jeddah, this development, with a planned completed area of some 170 square kilometres, was intended to attract a flood of global business to its industrial, financial and logistics hubs, but inward investment so far has amounted only to a trickle, with many companies setting up there coming from Saudi Arabia itself.

Another is the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), intended to rival the Dubai International Financial Centre by luring banks and other financial-services firms. Under construction north of Riyadh since 2006, the complex is 70% complete but as of last April, not a single financial institution had agreed to take space in the 73 buildings rising from the sand, Bloomberg reported.

Bin Salman acknowledged the problem in his Vision 2030 blueprint of last year. “We are aware that the economic cities of the last decade did not realize their potential,” it said. “Work has halted in several cities, and others face challenges that threaten their viability.” It said the government would work to “salvage” and “revamp” economic city projects launched over the past decade.

The country has not stopped starting new ones, however, and tourism seems to be the new focus. In April Saudi Arabia announced plans to build a 334-sq-km “entertainment city” on the outskirts of Riyadh that will provide facilities for sports, culture and recreation. Among the attractions will be a safari and a theme park designed by Texan entertainment company Six Flags.

Top image: Qasr al Farid, a tomb at the pre-Islamic archeological site of Madain Saleh, Saudi Arabia (Richard.hargas/Creative Commons)

Further Reading:

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Saudi Arabia launches luxury Red Sea beach resorts plan

SOURCE: CNN

4th August 2017

(CNN) — Picture luxury beach destinations and you probably conjure dreamy images of the Maldives or the Seychelles, but Saudi Arabia? Not so much.
But that could change with an ambitious plan to develop part of Saudi Arabia’s west coast into a Red Sea resort.
The Red Sea project will unlock the potential of 125 miles of spectacular coastline and 50 reef-fringed islands with the development of hotels and luxury residences in a designated tourist zone.
Construction, including a new airport, is set to begin in 2019, while the resort will be “governed by laws on par with international standards,” said the government.

Bikinis on the beach?

That could mean women will be allowed to sunbathe and swim wearing bikinis, hitherto unheard of in the conservative kingdom where women are expected to cover their skin with robe-like dresses known as “abayas.”
Under Saudi’s repressive laws, women are forbidden to drive and are unable to travel abroad without a male guardian’s permission.
The scheme is part of the government’s Vision 2030 project, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which is designed to wean the Saudi economy off a dependence on falling oil revenues.
“The Red Sea project will be a luxury resort destination situated across the islands of a lagoon and steeped in nature and culture,” said Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).
“It will set new standards for sustainable development and bring about the next generation of luxury travel to put Saudi Arabia on the international tourism map.”

Maldives-style luxury beach resorts could be on their way to Saudi Arabia.

Maldives-style luxury beach resorts could be on their way to Saudi Arabia.
Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort

Eased restrictions in tourist zone

Restrictions on visitor visas will be eased in the tourist zone, although it is unclear if Saudi’s ban on alcohol will still apply.
The first phase of the project is set to be completed by 2022, with visitors numbering about one million a year by 2035, according to a statement.
Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast faces Egypt, which has seen visitors to its beach resorts decline sharply following a number of terrorist attacks in recent years.
The Saudi statement said the project “will be an extremely safe and secure environment that will ensure the protection of all visitors in accordance with the highest international best practice.”
According to the Saudi Press Agency, the PIF will inject the initial capital while seeking to attract the partnerships of leading names in international tourism and hospitality sectors.
Prince Mohammed is the son of King Salman and is keen to modernize Saudi while retaining its religious and cultural heritage.

The Red Sea project will boast dormant volcanoes as a global touristic site

Time: August 3, 2017

Aerial shot of volcanoes in Saudi Arabia (Supplied)

Harraat Al Shaqaa, also known as Luneer, is located east of Amlaj, Saudi Arabia. This lava field covers an area of about 2,000 sq. km and extends to the nearby Red Sea.

Located in Saudi Arabia are 12 other volcanic fields, but the latest occurrence of volcanic activity happened at Harrat Al Shaqaa. The landscape there includes a variety of rock types and geological formations, attracting geologists and nature lovers.

Volcanic feild in Saudi Arabia (supplied)

(supplied)

Thousands of photos captured the scenery of volcanic fields, and plenty of information was collected on the 2,000 volcanic vents and clusters spread across the fields. However, the volcanic sites are still not ready for visitors in Saudi Arabia as the lava shaped the terrain in a way making it difficult for cars to cross.

Cinder cone volcano in Saudi Arabia (supplied)

The Red Sea project is the first to utilize these fields and volcanoes in Saudi Arabia. It is a unique project which will turn the sites into an international destination.

 

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Saudi Arabia to open luxury beach resort where women can wear bikinis

SOURCE:Telegraph

Aug 2, 2017 

Saudi Arabia’s new heir to the throne has announced plans for a beach resort where special laws will allow women to wear bikinis instead of covering up their skin.

As part of his drive to modernise the Saudi economy, Prince Mohammed bin Salman has unveiled plans for a luxury Red Sea resort on a stretch of coast line in the country’s northwest.

Knowing that foreign visitors are unlikely to come to beaches where women are forced to cover up in an abaya – a robe-like dress – the government said the resort will be “governed by laws on par with international standards”.

Saudi Arabia’s own laws on women are among the most repressive in the world, with women banned from driving and unable to travel without permission from a male relative.

Women are expected to cover their skin and hair when they are outside, although the laws are not uniformly enforced. Last month, a young woman was arrested for wearing a miniskirt in an abandoned village.

Alcohol is banned under Saudi law and it is not clear if it will be allowed on the resort.

Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund described the project as an “exquisite luxury resort destination established across 50 untouched natural islands”.

“The Red Sea project will be a luxury resort destination situated across the islands of a lagoon and steeped in nature and culture.

“It will set new standards for sustainable development and bring about the next generation of luxury travel to put Saudi Arabia on the international tourism map,” the fund said.

Construction is set to begin in 2019 and the first phase of the project will be completed by 2022, according to the announcement. It hopes to host a million visitors a year by 2035.

The Red Sea project is part of Prince Mohammed’s Vision 2030 – a plan to diversify the Saudi economy and wean it off its dependence on oil.

Some foreign investors have applauded the young prince, who is often referred to by his initials “MbS”, but others have said the plan is unlikely to succeed.

Saudi Arabia may seen an opening in the tourism market as neighbouring Egypt struggles to convince foreigners that its own Red Sea resorts are safe.

The Egyptian holiday area has been wracked by a number of attacks in recent years, including the bombing of a Russian airliner that took off from Sharm el-Sheikh. Visitor numbers have slumped as a result.

The Saudi statement stressed that the project “will be an extremely safe and secure environment that will ensure the protection of all visitors in accordance with the highest international best practice”.

Most foreigners will be able to fly straight into the tourism zone without a visa, another easing of Saudi law designed to make the resort more attractive.

Prince Mohammed was elevated to the role of crown prince in June after his cousin, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, was stripped of the role.

Prince Mohammed is the son of the current king, Salman, and already has broad authority over the kingdom’s economy as well as its defence and foreign policies.

 

Saudi Crown Prince announces launch of global tourism ‘Red Sea Project’

Time: August 1, 2017

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the Chairman of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, said the Red Sea Project will be built in one of the world’s most beautiful and diverse natural spots. (SPA)

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced the launch of an international tourism venture in Saudi Arabia under the working title of the “Red Sea Project”.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the Chairman of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), said the Red Sea Project will be built in one of the world’s most beautiful and diverse natural spots, in cooperation with the world’s largest hotel companies to develop exceptional resorts on more than 50 natural islands between the cities of Amlaj and Al-Jawh, just a few kilometers from one of the Kingdom’s protected reserves and inactive volcanoes in Harat Alrahat area.

The project is set to turn the areas into a leading coastal destination, located on a number of pristine islands near the Red Sea. The project will be located close to the Mada’in Saleh, an archaeological site characterized by its urban beauty and great historical significance.

مشروع البحر الأحمر

@TheRedSeaSA

50 جزيرة في تجعل السعودية وجهة سياحية عالمية.

A few minutes from the main beach, visitors will be able to discover hidden treasures in the Red Sea area, including a nature reserve to explore the diversity of flora and fauna in the area. Adventure enthusiasts will be able to navigate between the inactive volcanoes located next to the project area, and dive enthusiasts explore the abundant coral reefs in the surrounding waters.

As tourism is one of the most important economic sectors in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the Red Sea project will contribute to a qualitative shift in the concept of tourism and hospitality.

Cultivating heritage sites

Under the project, heritage sites will also be restored on a scientific basis to be ready for visitors. For example, a higher ceiling will be set for visitors to the region, in line with global best practices in tourism and archeology.

“The new project aims to promote international tourism by opening the Red Sea gate to the world in order to identify its treasures and embark on new adventures that will attract tourists locally, regionally and internationally. The project will be a center for everything related to recreation, health and relaxation and an integrated model for healthy and vital society,” a statement on Saudi Press Agency read.

“In order to preserve the unique environmental character of the region, environmental sustainability laws and mechanisms will be developed. Natural resources will be conserved in accordance with the best practices and standards in place globally,” the statement added.

he Red Sea project will be developed as a private area where systems will be applied in accordance with international best practices and expertise to enable the achievement of the project objectives. The foundation will be laid in the third quarter of 2019 and the first phase will be completed in the last quarter of 2022, a time which will see the development of the airport, the port, the development of hotels and luxury residences, the completion of facilities and infrastructure, and transport services (boats, water jets, etc.).

The PIF will inject initial investments into this project and open partnerships with leading international companies, which will bring new and direct investments to the Kingdom while seeking to attract and redirect Saudi tourism expenses into the kingdom.

The project will attract the world’s leading names in the tourism and hospitality sectors to harness its expertise, competencies and financial investments to enrich the experiences of this destination, provide more value to its visitors and maximize the economic gains of the Kingdom.

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Saudi crown prince launches mega Red Sea tourism project

Time: August 01, 2017

 

JEDDAH: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chairman of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), on Tuesday announced the launch of an international tourism project in the Kingdom called The Red Sea.
Envisioned as a resort built across a lagoon of 50 untouched islands, The Red Sea will be situated in one of the world’s last natural hidden treasures, between the cities of Umlaj and Al-Wajh. It will be developed in partnership with the world’s leading hospitality firms.
Situated just a few kilometers from one of the most diverse Saudi nature reserves and captivating dormant volcanoes in Harrat Al-Rahat, the resort promises to be a blissful coastal island retreat set against a backdrop of the ancient ruins at Mada’in Saleh, renowned for its beauty and historical significance.
Visitors will be able to explore hidden treasures, including a nature reserve that boasts a stunning diversity of flora and fauna at the foothills of the dormant volcano nearby.
An array of marine-oriented resort developments will allow for unparalleled scuba diving among stunning coral reefs. The project will form an archipelago that is home to environmentally protected coral reefs, mangroves and several endangered marine species, including the hawksbill sea turtle.
It will also boast dormant volcanoes, the most recently active of which has a recorded history of activity dating back to the 17th century AD.
The project’s nature reserve is inhabited by rare wildlife including leopards, wolves, wildcats and falcons. Also on offer will be parachuting, trekking and rock climbing.
With tourism representing the second most important sector in the Kingdom, The Red Sea will spearhead the diversification of the Saudi leisure industry.

In line with Vision 2030, it will diversify Saudi tourism offerings to create a year-round hospitality sector while promoting cultural conservation and economic stimulation.
The Red Sea will serve as a wellness center while setting new standards for sustainable development and environmental protection, which will be central to the project’s development.
To ensure the highest standard of environmental conservation, the number of visitors annually will be capped and heritage sites will be restored.
Laws on par with international standards will govern the newly mapped semi-autonomous area, with initial groundbreaking expected in the third quarter of 2019.
Completion of the project’s first phase is anticipated by the last quarter of 2022, which will include development of hotels, luxury residential units and all logistical infrastructure such as air, land and sea transport hubs.
The project will be developed with seed capital from the PIF, while partnerships with top-tier international companies will be formed.
This will attract the world’s leading names in hotel and tourism operations while contributing to Saudi economic growth. The project aims to generate SR15 billion ($4 billion) annually to the Saudi economy and create 35,000 jobs.

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Would you book a beach holiday in Saudi Arabia?

SOURCE: Telegraph

29 FEBRUARY 2016

It’s certainly not the first destination to spring to mind when planning a beach holiday, but Saudi Arabia is preparing to develop its unspoiled islands into resorts in an attempt to boost visitor numbers.

Tourism authorities in the country have announced that 66 islands along the country’s Red Sea coast are “ready for investment”.

The Farasan Islands – between the port city of Jazan, Eritrea and Yemen – have been earmarked thanks to their clear blue seas, white sandy beaches and coral reefs.

Although basic facilities such as piers, toilets and umbrellas exist on the main three islands – Farasan, Sajid and Muharraq – authorities hope to see more development, including high-end accommodation.

Rustom Al-Kubaisi of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage told Telegraph Travel the country was hoping to attract luxury hotel developers to build “scuba diving, spa and resort facilities” on the three main islands.

“For the time being it is aimed at Saudis and expats,” Mr Kubaisi said, but Western tourists might become a target “in the future”.

Developments could be worth up to 500 million Saudi rials (£96m), with individual investments of 30-35 million, although no definite figures have been decided. Resort building should be underway within five years, Mr Kubaisi added.

Saudi Arabia has islands along both its Red Sea and Arabian Gulf coastlines. Most of them – some 1,150 – are in the Red Sea, and are surrounded by coral reefs, sandy beaches and mangroves.

The Farasan Islands are home to “rare coral reefs” and “nesting sea turtles and seabirds” can be spotted on its beaches, according to the Saudi Arabian tourist board. The archipelago is also home to an Ottoman castle, and the village of “Al Qassar”, complete with palm oasis, and mangroves, and breeding populations of Arabian gazelles.

“Thousands of people” from “different parts of the world” visited the islands for the latest “Hareed fishing festival”, which celebrates the parrot fish that congregate around the islands, according to Saudi news outlet Arab News.

The islands are accessed by two ferries that depart daily from the port city of Jizan, 50km away. There is currently one hotel, Farasan Coral Resort, on the main island. It boasts of “luxuriously furnished executive suites” and “elegant design.”

Mr Kubaisi said that scuba diving could be a large part of the Farasan Islands development, as the country was already seeing water sports fans from other parts of the Gulf visit to explore its untouched reefs along its two long coastlines.

He said women were allowed to scuba dive without restrictions and that although it was only men coming from abroad for underwater sports at present, women “in families” were welcome.

Restrictions on female travellers represent one of the disincentives around visiting Saudi Arabia.

Women must be accompanied by a male guardian when travelling. The British Foreign Office says that female visitors must be met by their sponsors on arrival or “may face delays before being allowed to enter the country or to continue on other flights.”

They are required to wear the black cloak known as an abaya and a hijab (headscarf) at all times in public.

All Britons must obtain a visa before travelling to Saudi Arabia, from an accredited visa agent, at a cost of at least £50.

Other travellers may be put off by the country’s abysmal human rights record: according to Human Rights Watch, Saudi Arabia carried out 158 executions last year and “authorities continued to arbitrarily arrest, try, and convict peaceful dissidents.” The country has also been criticised for its bombing campaign in Yemen, which is aimed at Houthi rebels but in which civilians have reportedly been killed.

Saudi Arabia has been attempting to bolster tourism as oil resources diminish and revenues tumble.

Prince Sultan bin Salman said this month that “national heritage” could be among the “economic alternatives” to the black gold upon which the kingdom’s wealth has been built.

“I have been emphasizing that the national heritage, namely the urban heritage, could be amongst the economic alternatives that contribute to the diversity of economic resources and job opportunities in the region. That is because “the urban heritage represents inexhaustible oil wells,” he said.

The vast majority of tourists who visit Saudi Arabia are Muslims making the pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city in Islam. World Bank figures for 2013 – the latest year available – show 13 million tourists visited the country.

Other coastal resorts already exist in the Kingdom, which is better known for its hard line interpretation of Sunni Islam than for beach holidays. The Mövenpick group has an “exclusive for families” beach resort at Al Khobar on the Arabian Gulf coast and Le Meridien has a hotel in the “stunning seaside oasis” of the city of Al Khodar.

On land, the main attractions include the rock-cut tombs at Maiden Saleh – a caravan stopping point on the route to Petra in Jordan in the era of the Nabateans – and the Hejaz railway route.

The British Foreign Office currently deems Jizan off-limits as it is close to the border with Yemen, but there are no restrictions on travel to the Farasan Islands. British authorities make general warnings about sea vessels being targets for piracy and terrorism.