The Royal Commission of Al Ula signed a series of agreements with a group of French companies to accelerate the regeneration of the historic city.
The RCU signed agreements with IT firm Aecom and a French consortium comprising Egis, Assystem and Setec that will focus on developing arts and culture, hospitality, community development, and infrastructure in Al Ula over three stages until 2035.
“These new long-term strategic partnerships are critical to realising our ambition of creating a global benchmark for sustainable tourism," said Amr Al Madani, chief executive of the RCU, at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh.
“Our new partners will be instrumental in helping us deliver a detailed and certified plan. While our focus is set on phase I, we will ramp up our integrated approach towards the development of phase II and III, to drive traffic, and sustain a regular flow of tourists in the long run," he said.
More than 75 billion riyals ($15bn) will be invested in Al Ula in the first phase of the project. Al Ula is expected to contribute about 120bn riyals to Saudi Arabia’s economy.
RCU forecasts that the population of the area will triple to 130,000 by 2035, generating an estimated 38,000 new jobs.
The RCU said policies developed in sensitive heritage areas, supported by extensive studies of human patterns and environmental and biological development, work in collaboration with Saudi Green Initiative and the rehabilitation of Al Ula.
"These flexible policies range from a strategy to reduce carbon emissions to include the principles of a circular economy, improved water management, vegetation cultivation, off-road driving policies, as well as improved flood and water management, sustainable agricultural production, and a policy of increasing vegetation cover," the RCU said.
The commission said it is "accelerating the Al Ula A Journey Through Time initiative through one of the world's most significant projects that will have a sustainable impact on humanity".
“Al Ula is one of the world’s largest and most complex development projects, home to more than 30,000 sites of historical significance, and we are proud to help realise the city’s vision for the future," Aecom President Lara Poloni said.