The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), a wholly-owned entity of Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), has set up an international advisory board for the development of its ambitious Red Sea Project.
The TRSDC advisory board comprises 12 world leaders in various fields such as business, tourism, environmental sustainability and conservation.
It will help set The Red Sea Project’s agenda to develop and implement a new international standard in environmental protection and restoration, sustainable development, innovation and luxury tourism.
Located along the west coast of Saudi Arabia at the crossroads of the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and Africa, the project is envisioned as an ultra-luxury tourism destination for nature, adventure, wellness, and culture. It is part of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s ambitious blueprint for the future.
“Utilising this group of advisors to guide The Red Sea Development Company is crucial to creating a world-class project of this scale,” said John Pagano, chief executive officer of TRSDC. “The collective expertise of this impressive group will help us to exceed the inspirational goals set for the tourism sector in Vision 2030.”
The Red Sea Project will be developed around several unique treasures: 200 km of untouched coastline; over 50 pristine islands and lagoons; thriving coral reefs and marine life; mountains and dormant volcanoes; and heritage sites.
The first phase of The Red Sea Project will include hotels and residential units, an airport and related infrastructure, and a range of unique attractions, providing an ideal environment for partnerships with leading international investors. The number of hotel rooms and residential units which the project will ultimately deliver will be determined by its environmental parameters. The annual number of visitors will be capped to protect the unique environment and enhance the visitor experience.
Completion of Phase One is anticipated by the last quarter of 2022.
The members of the advisory board will serve multifunctional roles when working with TRSDC’s board of directors and executive team. They will also advise the directors of TRSDC, led by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Collectively, the advisory board members will call on their broad experiences to suggest best practices across an array of disciplines; connect potential investors and partners to the opportunities offered by the luxury travel industry—one of the fastest growing global economic segments; and serve as ambassadors of the project to raise its profile globally.
The advisory board members first met in New York City in March 2018 to provide initial feedback on the project’s direction. They met again in Saudi Arabia in July to visit The Red Sea Project’s unique marine and land ecosystems, and to provide further input on development and sustainability strategies, the statement said.
“TRSDC’s advisory board is playing a fundamental role in the development of the project,” Pagano said. “The insights and advice that we gather from the board are extremely valuable in assessing and tailoring the effectiveness of our current plan. This will enable us create something truly unique for our guests and for the people of Saudi Arabia, as we set new international standards for protecting, preserving, restoring and providing access to a unique experience at this site for generations to come.”
The members of the advisory board are:
* Sir Richard Branson, founder, Virgin Group – Sir Richard is a serial entrepreneur known for his ambitious forays with the Virgin Group, creating eight different billion-dollar companies in eight different sectors. Sir Richard’s experiences building Virgin Hotels, Virgin Holidays, Virgin Limited Edition, and Virgin Airways will inform the strategic implementation of many aspects of The Red Sea Project.
* Steve Case, chairman and CEO, Revolution – As the CEO of Revolution, an investment firm dedicated to building “built to last” businesses, Case has established a legacy for creating some of the strongest businesses in history. He revolutionised the Internet through AOL, and negotiated the largest merger in business history. Case will work with The Red Sea Project’s executive team to bring transformative business management to the project.
* Philippe Cousteau Jr, co-founder and president, EarthEcho International – Cousteau Jr is a multi Emmy-nominated TV host, author, speaker and social entrepreneur. He advises on best practices for social and environmental sustainable development and through his non-profit, EarthEcho International, prepares the next generation to solve the environmental challenges the world faces.
* Carlos Duarte, professor, Red Sea Research Center – Duarte’s leadership in biological oceanography and marine ecology will serve to inform conservation at utmost scientific level. His Red Sea expertise, and versatility as a world-leading marine ecologist, makes him a core part of the environmental protection initiative behind The Red Sea Project.
* J Carl Ganter, CEO, Vector Center — Ganter is an expert on water security who focuses on the intersections and impacts of changing water, food, and energy resources globally. His experience with Vector Center’s data analysis, contextualization, and reporting will help guide The Red Sea Project’s leadership on risk identification and mitigation, investment, and environmental and sustainability initiatives.
* Paul Holthus, founder, president, and CEO, World Ocean Council – At the World Ocean Council, Holthus is responsible for a global multi-industry leadership alliance blending private sector interests and market forces to develop practical solutions for achieving ocean sustainability. Holthus will advise on best practices in business-led marine environmental management and sustainable development.
* Aradhana Khowala, CEO and founder, Aptamind Partners – Khowala’s accomplishments in travel, tourism and hospitality will lend valuable insight into building and scaling the project. Her appreciation for tourism as a force of good will help bring together luxury hospitality and environmental conservation together with community engagement for The Red Sea Project.
* Sven-Olof Lindblad, CEO, Lindblad Expeditions – Lindblad’s experience in building world-class expeditions, particularly marine-focused trips aboard intimate ships, is an excellent resource for The Red Sea Project. Lindblad’s work with National Geographic and his understanding of cultural nuance in remote regions of the world will help inform the project’s vision, development planning and guest experiences.
* William McDonough, founder, William McDonough and Partners – McDonough brings a wealth of experience relating to environmental design and sustainable development. McDonough is a leading environmental thought leader of our time, the co-author of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, and a strategic advisor to many of the world’s largest firms. He brings invaluable perspective to all environmental facets of the project.
* Frits Dirk van Paasschen, senior advisor, TPG Capital – Investment and business expert, van Paaschen has a strong understanding of consumers’ mindset, industry disruption and sustainability. His experience as the former CEO of Starwood Hotels and in the C-suite of various Fortune 500 companies will provide important counsel to The Red Sea Project.
* Vijay Poonoosamy, director of international and public affairs, QI Group – Poonoosamy is also president of the Hermes Air Transport Organisation. He started his career as an aviation lawyer in London, was the managing director of Air Mauritius, the executive chairman of Airports of Mauritius and the vice president international and public affairs of the Etihad Aviation Group. He has served on the board of directors of the US Travel Association, the board of governors of the International Aviation Club and as chairman of Iata’s Industry Affairs Committee. Poonoosamy will be vital for planning transportation to the Red Sea.
* Sonu Shivdasani, CEO and joint creative director, Soneva – Often referred to as the founder of Six Senses, Shivdasani is an experienced hotelier who has built and prepared some of the most luxurious and environmentally pioneering hotels in the world. Shivdasani’s work in addressing environmental challenges for imaginative projects will provide valuable counsel to The Red Sea Project to steer it in an environmentally conscious direction.