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Details revealed of a $3 billion plan for a new era of sustainable mountain tourism in Saudi Arabia
SHARM EL-SHEIKH: Soudah Development, a company owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, said it plans to invest SR11 billion ($2.93 billion) as it spearheads of a new era of sustainable mountain tourism, within the framework of the Kingdom’s ambitious environmental action plans.
His project covers an area of 627 km² which includes Soudah mountain and the mountain village of Rijal Alma, in the Sarwat mountains in the southwestern region of Asir, and is home to 90% of the greenery and flora of the Kingdom.
“Soudah and Rijal Almaa are a nationally unique and biologically diverse ecosystem vulnerable to climate change,” the company said. “By restoring biodiversity, boosting vegetation cover and re-saving large swaths of land, we want to create a greener future that unlocks the potential of sustainable tourism.”
At 3,015 meters, Soudah is the highest peak in Saudi Arabia.
“We plan to develop 2,700 hotel rooms, 1,300 residential units and 30 commercial and entertainment attractions to create a luxury mountain tourism destination above the clouds, (and) up to SR3 billion will be spent on major infrastructure improvements that will provide social and economic services. dividends for the local community,” said Soudah Development.
“We also plan to play a key role in the country’s diversification by attracting over 2 million visitors throughout the year, creating 8,000 jobs and adding SR29 billion to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product. here 2030.”
The company, a private joint-stock property development company launched last year by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, participated in the second Saudi Green Initiative Forum, which took place last week on the sidelines of the Conference of United Nations on Climate Change, COP27, in Sharm El-Sheikh. He shared details on three of his flagship sustainability initiatives, including plans to plant over a million trees by 2030.
“In addition to our ongoing reforestation campaign, we have used this platform to highlight two other environmental projects: plans to reintroduce endangered wildlife species, such as mountain ibex and gazelle, into their habitats. original; and a broad initiative to rewild protected areas to safeguard biodiversity and restore ecological balance,” he said.
Soudah Development, which was founded in February 2021 and is an affiliate member of the UN World Tourism Organization, said its main commitment is to protect Soudah but it also aims to promote the region as a destination. luxury tourism, while helping to combat climate change in line with the objectives of the SGI. This is reflected, the company said, in projects such as its Million Tree Planting Plan in support of SGI’s ambitious goal of planting 10 billion trees by 2030.
“Up to 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide will be sequestered by the forest as part of this initiative, contributing to the Kingdom’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2060, reducing carbon emissions by 4% and increase protected areas to more than 30% of the country’s total. area,” the company said.
It added that it is in the “preliminary stages of planning and development work” in line with best practices in sustainable tourism, and is partnering with national and multilateral organizations to achieve its goals.
It has signed four agreements with national entities under the aegis of the Ministry of the Environment, including the National Center for Vegetation Cover and the Fight Against Desertification, the National Center for Environmental Compliance, the National Center for the Development of wildlife and the National Center for Waste Management.
It has also formed partnerships with the Saudi National Heritage Commission and the King Abdulaziz Foundation to identify and conduct research on archaeological assets and study intangible cultural heritage in the region.
Soudah Development is also the region’s only member of the United Nations Mountain Partnership, and its plans for Soudah and Rijal Almaa, as well as its efforts to promote sustainability, have received strong endorsement and recognition from the United Nations General Assembly.
“What this means for us – and for the Kingdom – is that our efforts to promote meaningful action to tackle climate change and achieve the 17 (United Nations) Sustainable Development Goals receive global recognition that they deserve,” the company said.