Red Sea Development Company, the developer of the mammoth tourism project on Saudi Arabia’s west coast, said it awarded contracts to complete structural work for a luxury hotel and villas.
Saudi Arabian contractor Al Bawani will conduct civil and structural works across 40 hotel villas on the Southern Dunes site while Swiss timber specialist Blumer Lehmann will carry out planning, construction and fabrication works for a hotel on Ummahat Al Shaykh Island, the developer said in a statement on Wednesday.
The company did not disclose the value of these contracts.
The contract awards "signify the start of a new phase" for the mega tourism project as it advances into hotel development, John Pagano, chief executive of the Red Sea Development Company, said.
“The Red Sea Development Company has made significant progress in terms of the design and construction of key infrastructure to enable the development of hotel assets,” he added.
The project is a key tenet of Saudi Arabia's tourism strategy, which aims to increase the contribution of tourism to more than 10 per cent of the kingdom’s GDP by 2030, up from 3 per cent in 2020.
The Red Sea Development Company’s masterplan covers a 28,000 square kilometre site containing 90 islands. Set to welcome its first visitors in 2022, the project is expected to be completed by 2030. It will house 50 hotels containing 8,000 rooms, a luxury marina, entertainment and leisure facilities.
The company, which is owned by the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, is developing 16 hotels with 3,000 rooms across five islands and two inland sites as part of the first phase that will be delivered by 2023. This phase will cost an estimated 28 billion Saudi riyals to 29bn riyals ($7.46bn-$7.73bn) to develop.
Al Bawani's work will help the developer to link villas, restaurants and central buildings within its resort, the company said.
Blumer Lehmann will design and manufacture all engineered timber material for a hotel, overwater and beach villas, spa and fitness building, restaurants and an arrival building.
The company said last year it had awarded contracts worth 7.5bn riyals to date.
Last month, the Red Sea Development Company chose Dublin-based DAA International to operate the project's international airport. It awarded the airport design contract to UK-based architecture firm Foster + Partners in October 2019.
The project is being built under a “regenerative tourism” model, which aims not only to protect local habitats, but also create conditions for local environments to thrive. Only 22 of the site's 90 islands will be built on and visitor numbers to the area will be capped at one million a year.