The latest luxury resort built has been unveiled as part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s massive effort to transform itself into a major tourist destination. The resort is an ambitious project built in sandstone.
The Sharaan Resort is located within the Sharaan Nature Reserve in the Al-Ula desert, and it was designed by the famous architect Jean Nouvel.
The resort design photos show elegant and spacious outdoor courtyards contrasting with the rich and intimate interior.
Nouvel noted that his design was partly inspired by the UNESCO World Heritage Site Al-Hajar, which was recently opened to the public for the first time.
The architect, who was also behind the design of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, said the design aims to preserve the ancient landscape.
Sharaan landscape and history
Al-Ula is home to mountains of sand rocks and interesting heritage sites, including Al-Hajar, which was built by the Nabataeans, who built the ancient city of Petra in Jordan.
Sharaan Resort is scheduled to open its doors to visitors by 2023, and will include 40 guest suites and three spa villas.
Nouvel will oversee the project with the Royal Commission for Al-Ula, which was established in 2017 to help develop and promote the area.
The design was said to honor the Nabataean approach to the use of light and shadow in architecture.
While much of the resort will be inside the rock, the design photos show that natural light will be an integral part of it.
The resort aims to complement rather than diminish the surrounding landscape.
Nouvel also indicated that the resort will be committed to operating sustainably.
Turning Saudi Arabia into a tourist destination
Although Saudi Arabia is reorganizing itself as a tourist destination, it is still relatively new to the international tourism scene.
The country further opened its doors to international tourists in the fall of 2019 with a new visa program. By expanding tourism, the Kingdom hopes to reduce its dependence on oil, diversify the economy, and strengthen its national identity.
Besides this resort, the country is also hosting other large tourism projects underway, including the Red Sea project, while the Qiddiya project near Riyadh has been described as the largest entertainment city in the world.
In an online statement, the Royal Commission for Al-Ula said that the development of the Sharaan region “will contribute to the local economy and the gross domestic product of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and will boost the tourism economy by attracting tourists keen to experience the cultural and natural heritage of Al-Ula.”