A new eco-friendly luxury resort is coming to Saudi Arabia’s Al Ula

The 100-room resort will promote local handicrafts, artworks and produce

A new eco-friendly resort will be coming to the desert canyons of Ashar Valley, Al Ula, next year. Supplied
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Only a few weeks after the announcement that Al Ula will be home to Saudi Arabia's first Banyan Tree resort, comes word of yet another luxury resort that is set to open its doors in the region.

The Royal Commission for Al Ula (RCU), in partnership with global hospitality group Habitas, has started construction on a new eco-friendly resort in the historic north-western city.

While the name of the luxury resort is yet to be announced, the first phase of the boutique resort is set to open in the first quarter of 2021, with more phases scheduled for completion later in the year.

Al Ula is to be a light-touch tourism destination, with a focus on sustaining ecosystems and wildlife, and the new resort has been designed keeping this in mind. Habitas specialises in creating hotels using sustainable materials, manufactured in its facilities in Mexico and assembled on-site, thus minimising its impact on the environment.

Comprising 100 luxury rooms, the resort will be designed to blend seamlessly with Al Ula’s landscape and provide culturally engaging experiences that immerse guests in the heritage and environment of the region.

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Habitas will also work with RCU on a number of community-driven initiatives that will be rolled out in phases.

This includes sourcing local handicrafts by collaborating with the Al Ula Girls School, showcasing Saudi Arabian artists through collaborations and installations at the Habitas resort, sourcing food from Al Ula’s farmers and setting up cooking classes led by local chefs.

“From our very first trip to Al Ula we were really inspired by the people we met and by its natural beauty and heritage. Travel is an incredible gift to create greater compassion and understanding in the world between different people and cultures,” says Oliver Ripley, chief executive officer of Habitas.

The resort will consist of 100 luxury rooms. Supplied

“This agreement reflects our commitment to making Al Ula a global destination that offers visitors unique, authentic experiences as we protect, share and celebrate our natural and cultural heritage,” adds Amr Al Madani, chief executive of the Royal Commission for Al Ula.

“Construction is underway, a fact that signals that we are actively opening up new opportunities for regional and international investors in the hospitality sector while empowering and enabling our community.”

The resort will emphasise experiential luxury through culturally engaging experiences. Supplied

Al Ula is home to the country’s first Unesco World Heritage Site, Hegra, and thousands of ancient rock art sites and inscriptions.

The resort is one of several in development in the area, including the Banyan Tree and three luxury properties by Aman. A resort in the Sharaan Nature Reserve is also being created by architect Jean Nouvel, who designed Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Al Ula’s heritage sites are set to reopen to visitors in October this year. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, tourism visas to Saudi Arabia are currently suspended.