The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has joined forces with hospitality management group Habitas to create an experiential resort in the desert canyons of Saudi Arabia’s Ashar Valley, home to the country’s first UNESCO world heritage site and set to reopen this October following a tourist revival in recent years.

With the first 50 keys set to be delivered by Q1 of 2021 – more phases are scheduled for completion later next year – the resort will reflect RCU and Habitas’ shared ethos on social and sustainable development, focusing on light touch tourism that emphasises experiential luxury by way of cultural exchange.

This framework for community projects includes a number of initiatives like showcasing local artists and handicrafts, localising food supplies and running experiences and classes led by native professionals.

A rendering of Habitas AlUla in Saudi Arabia

“From our very first trip to AlUla, 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, CEO of Habitas.

“RCU’s approach to sustainable development aligns very closely to our values and DNA and in our mission to support local communities. The world, now more than ever, needs to create places for people to reconnect with one another and with nature.”

A rendering of Habitas AlUla in Saudi Arabia

Habitas hopes to support the development with its unique vertical integration and modular construction, which sees sustainable materials manufactured in Mexico before being delivered and assembled on-site to minimise impact on the environment. The approach supports RCU’s commitment to achieving on-time delivery, as AlUla prepares to welcome visitors for the winter season.

Amr AlMadani, CEO of AlUla, comments: “This agreement reflects our commitment to making AlUla a global destination that offers unique, authentic experiences as we protect, share and celebrate our natural and cultural heritage. Construction is underway, a fact that signals we are actively opening up new opportunities for regional and international investors in hospitality while empowering our community.”