On the anniversary of the announcement of Vision 2030, The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) today (April 28) confirmed that its regeneration project – The Journey Through Time Masterplan – represents a $15 billion opportunity for responsible investment in public-private partnership projects.
The Journey Through Time Masterplan, a roadmap to protect 200,000 years of natural and human history across the 20-km-long core historical area of AlUla, is anchored by the regeneration of five heritage districts.
It aims to set the benchmark for responsible and impactful investment in destination development by building social, economic and environmental sustainability into its blueprint, said the statement from RCU.
The masterplan aims to create a robust investment opportunity in AlUla, contributing to the diversification of the Saudi economy and creation of jobs as well as wider opportunities for the local community – all key goals of Saudi Vision 2030, it added.
CEO Amr AlMadani said: "With an estimated total development value of over $15 billion, The Journey Through Time Masterplan is an important opportunity to showcase AlUla’s full potential. By de-risking investment opportunities through our $2 billion seed funding and creating a robust governance framework, we have created a platform for responsible and sustainable development to regenerate a unique location featuring a Unesco World Heritage Site," stated AlMadani.
"With $3.2 billion reserved for priority primary infrastructure, the development of AlUla will be anchored in building strong foundations as well as safeguarding AlUla’s cultural and heritage assets," he noted.
An estimated $3.2 billion will be injected into developing AlUla’s priority infrastructure. A key component to unlocking AlUla’s future as a sustainable development destination, this will include a 46-km low-carbon tramway (22 km for the first phase) and increasing clean power capacity, with at least 50% of demand supplied through renewable energies by 2035.
The plans also includes increasing potable water capacity, with a centralised and upgraded water supply system including a new water supply of desalinated water and a tailor-made water conservation programme; and increasing wastewater capacity with an upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant in Mughayra.
According to him, the RCU is committed to de-risking future investments for partners and will support the development of heritage assets and primary infrastructure.
It has already invested in $2 billion in development projects including the expansion of AlUla International Airport, bolstering the country’s security infrastructure and developing key tourism assets including Ashar estate and the iconic Maraya multi-purpose venue.
In parallel, the wider development strategy for AlUla - encompassing multiple masterplans - will lay the foundations for a strong tourism industry with a total of 9,400 hotel keys by 2035, of which 5,000 keys will sit within the Journey Through Time Masterplan, remarked AlMadani.
He pointed out that the tourism potential of AlUla was evident in the interest it had generated amongst hoteliers and designers, including global luxury brands Aman, Accor/Banyan Tree and Habitas.
AlUla will also play host to a one-of-its-kind property designed by leading architecture firm Atelier Jean Nouvel that will revive the 2,000-year-old architectural legacy of the ancient Nabataeans, he explained.
AlUla’s development strategy is guided by the AlUla Sustainability Charter, which sets the ground for adherence to a carbon-neutral strategy and circular economy principles, robust resiliency policies around development in heritage and environmentally sensitive areas, as well as flood and improved water management and vegetation planting. The masterplan will also contribute to the Saudi Green Initiative by expanding AlUla’s green and open spaces up to 10 million sq m.
With investment opportunities meeting robust environmental, social and corporate governance criteria, AlUla is creating investment opportunities in new and vibrant sectors of the kingdom’s economy.
As part of the masterplan, AlUla offers a rich portfolio of investment opportunities across multiple asset classes: landmark cultural projects; social infrastructure, utilities and mobility, hospitality, commercial and residential projects. The masterplan will be delivered over three phases, to be completed in 2023, 2030 and 2035 respectively.
AlMadani said: "Responsible investment can deliver strong business opportunities and investment returns, whilst also helping to address urgent social and environmental concerns. For our partners around the globe, this is an opportunity to be at a new frontier of environmental, social and economic growth."
The Journey Through Time Masterplan is the first in a series of plans for AlUla and focuses on rehabilitating AlUla’s natural and cultural heritage in responsible manner, he stated.
"Upon full completion, the wider development strategy for AlUla in 2035 aims to deliver 38,000 new jobs amid a population grown to 130,000, contributing $32 billion to the kingdom’s GDP," he said.
"Unique opportunities will further encourage and accelerate business and investment from partners who share RCU’s values of sustainability, responsible development and community inclusivity," he added.
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