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DUBAI: Aiming to become a global wellness hub, AMAALA has merged under The Red Sea Development Co. with its own tourism projects.
“AMAALA is all about wellness, ultra-luxury hospitality and caters to a different segment to the rest of the development along the Red Sea,” said Ahmed Ghazi Darwish, Administrative Director of TRSDC and AMAALA. , to Arab News on the sidelines of the Arab Travel Market. “We want to be the best wellness center in the world.”
The first phase of the ambitious project will be completed by the end of 2024, which will include SR5 billion ($1.3 billion) in signed contracts. The luxury destination has also emphasized the localization of projects, with 78% of contracts awarded to Saudi contractors. The company will develop nine resorts by the end of 2024.
Technology has been incorporated into the plans, with the aim of making The Red Sea Project and AMAALA fully functional smart cities.
“There is huge potential for digital destinations for the Red Sea and AMAALA projects, both will absolutely be smart cities,” Darwish said. “We are working on getting sensors for the environment to monitor our impact and help us get the right data. At the same time, we will rely heavily on technology for a smoother customer journey. »
While TRSDC is responsible for the development of both projects, AMAALA will focus on wellness. The sovereign wealth fund, PIF, owns 100% of the two mega-tourism projects.
The development is very promising in light of the 2021 Global Wellness Economy report, which forecasts an annual growth rate of 21% from 2020 to 2025. The report also highlighted that wellness travel is expected to exceed all other sectors of the whole. welfare economics.
“AMAALA’s topography is different from the rest of the Red Sea; there are mountains next to the sea and an island,” Darwish said.
“We are starting from zero for tourism, so it’s a clean slate. We want to focus on the sustainability of regenerative tourism. Beyond green practices, we want to be a regenerative tourism hotspot and have a better impact on the place than when we started.
The Red Sea Project aims to attract tourists and visitors from all over the world. But for this to happen, certain conditions must be met, including new social norms and flexible laws.
The Red Sea Project
“We are working on special economic zones for these projects, on tourism regulations to allow these destinations to succeed,” Darwish said. “It is still ongoing and we are trying to prepare it for the first phase of guests. We work hand in hand with the government, the tourist office and several agencies.
So far, AMAALA has 500 employees and plans to hire another 300 by the end of the year.
“The beauty of these projects, the most critical thing, is that we’re creating jobs, and not just in the hospitality industry, but also electricians, tour guides, ground handlers and more,” Darwish said.
Classroom in session
TRSDC also runs a program called the Elite Graduate Program which identifies talented young people and provides on-the-job learning opportunities for both projects.
A total of 110 new graduates have successfully completed the program and will soon succumb to growing demand from hiring managers and employers.
TRSDC has partnered with Prince Mugrin University to offer 120 scholarships for hospitality students ahead of the impending tourism boom in the Kingdom. The degree is accredited by the prestigious Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne.
“It’s an exceptional program. We have set the bar very high and students are already representing us at conferences,” Darwish said. “Besides the baccalaureate, we offer vocational training in everything from electricity to airport ground handling.”
The company has also funded an environmental stewards program to spread awareness of green practices.
“Part of it is about improving the environment, nature and habitat. The rest is about improving people’s livelihoods through better education and training,” he said. “We provide jobs and raise environmental awareness in the community.”