Saudi Arabia - The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has announced that work has begun on its Sharaan Resort and International Summit Centre project, coming up in the Saudi mountain region.
A joint venture between French engineering group Bouygues Construction and Saudi engineering firm Almabani will be taking care of the construction work on the resort, which has been designed by French architect Jean Nouvel.
RCU said its Development and Construction unit is spearheading this project with consultation from Canadian firm WSP and with program management support from Jasara, a Saudi firm, while the project has been designed by French architect Jean Nouvel.
The resort will be built directly into the mountains of Sharaan Nature Reserve and aims to meet ambitious sustainability goals for the construction phase and resort operations, it stated.
RCU signed the agreement with Bouygues Construction and Almabani at a key ceremony held at Sharaan Nature Reserve.
Bouygues Construction brings a unique combination of experience in tunneling and construction of ultra-luxury hotels, both required for this complex development. Together they will deliver the masterful vision which will immerse guests in the natural and cultural heritage of Sharaan Nature Reserve, it added.
For this project, RCU said it had held several consultations with some of the world’s top experts in mining and excavation to engineer solutions in line with the architectural vision.
Just as the Nabataean civilisation carved structures into nearby sandstone more than 2,000 years ago, Sharaan resort will carve a new chapter in stone for AlUla’s living museum while preserving the natural scenery and native flora and fauna at the heart of RCU’s vision for Sharaan, it stated.
Built into a mountain dating back 500 million years, the Sharaan resort will offer a memorable and timeless experience with 38 suites, a spa and wellness center, kids club, sport centre, all-day dining restaurant and business centre.
In addition, a signature fine-dining restaurant will sit atop the mountain with panoramic views of Sharaan. A unique glass elevator will connect the resort with a geologic and artistic experience, offering views of ancient sedimentary layers and niches filled with art and engravings.
RCU pointed out that once ready, the Sharaan International Summit Centre will be hosting events and leaders from around the world "inside an adjacent mountain."
With a completely secure and private environment, its design will enable chance encounters and private interaction for guests with shared leisure activities in an informal setting. Facilities will include an auditorium, meeting rooms, majlis (sitting room), library, and a sport and leisure area.
The Summit Centre will boast 13 total hospitality pavilions, while two private villas will be constructed nearby, thus completing the project with 53 total hospitality keys, it stated.
RCU Chief Development and Construction Officer Mohammed Altheeb said: "Sharaan resort is our most ambitious project currently under construction. The resort was designed with complete reverence for the human and natural history of AlUla, and we are committed to sustainable building practices in line with this same philosophy."
"RCU and its partners are excited to unveil a new chapter in the story of these ancient mountains, where guests will experience the wonders of Sharaan Nature Reserve," he noted.
Aligned with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and the Sustainability Charter for AlUla, the Sharaan Resort and International Summit Centre is designed in harmony with its natural environment.
Discreet studies of the site have informed the design of passive strategies and natural geological heat transfer to efficiently cool the property in summer and provide warmth in the winter. The project also aims for zero wastewater by using potable water only when needed and by recycling all treatable wastewater for irrigation and other purposes.
Bouygues Construction Deputy CEO Pierre-Eric Saint-André, expressing delight at being part of the ambitious cultural and tourism project of AlUla, said: "The bold vision of Jean Nouvel’s architectural firm – with whom we have already had the opportunity to work on the Paris Philharmonic Center for example – is a great source of inspiration for us, since the technical prowess it requires are absolutely unique and incredibly stimulating."
"We are confident that we will be able to bring our passion for challenges and our state-of-the-art expertise acquired over 70 years on all continents to ensure that this great project becomes an iconic reference in terms of exclusive tourist experience, respect for the environment and harmonious integration within grandiose landscapes," he added.
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