Riyadh: Saudi Crown Prince, Deputy Premier and Defence Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud launched mega tourism projects in Al Ula, including a resort designed by a renowned French architect and a nature reserve, both called Sharaan, according to Arab News.
Jean Nouvel, the French architect who designed Louvre Abu Dhabi, will build a resort in the mountains of Al Ula as part of a plan launched to transform the home of ancient civilisations into a destination for visitors from around the world.
The plan for sustainable development of the region, which includes the Sharaan Resort and a designated nature reserve, was launched at a groundbreaking ceremony at Maraya.
A mirrored concert hall was built for the Winter at Tantora festival, which has brought visitors to the untouched area every weekend since December, giving them a taste of what’s to come.
The charter for Al Ula was presented on a stage made of sand, with a multimedia sound and light show involving local men and women, the “guardians” of Al Ula.
The actual rocks of Al Ula, visible through glass at the back of the stage, served as the backdrop.
Al Ula is home to spectacular sandstone rock formations and the archaeological site of Madain Saleh, the largest Nabatean settlement south of Petra that contains the ancient civilisation’s rock tombs with their carved facades. In 2008, it was designated as Saudi Arabia’s first Unesco World Heritage site.
The Sharaan Resort will include residential estates, a summit centre, a spa and restaurants. It will be located in the 925-square-kilometre Sharaan Nature Reserve.
Both take their names from the surrounding canyon with its ancient rock formations. The reserve will conserve and restore the region’s natural desert habitats, including the Arabian leopard, with the help of local rangers trained by international experts.