S. Arabia to build mega ‘global’ tourism project

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Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a graduation ceremony and air show marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of King Faisal Air College in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 25, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced on Wednesday plans to turn a section of its northwestern coast into a magnet for international tourists, part of a broader push to diversify the economy away from oil.

“The new destination is a natural extension of the Mediterranean Sea, and dubbed the Riviera of the Middle East,” said the Saudi sovereign wealth fund in an emailed statement, detailing the tourism project called Amaala.

Amaala, alongside the previously announced NEOM, a 26,500 square kilometer business zone under development in the northwest of the kingdom, is part of the giga-projects investment portfolio of PIF, the statement said.

It did not reveal the size of the investment or any time frame but said: “As the project progresses, attractive partnership and investment packages will be available for the private sector.”

Amaala will feature hotels, private villas, retail and an academy of the arts, marinas and a yacht club, it said.

The statement named Nicholas Naples as chief executive officer of the new development for which initial funding will be provided by PIF.

“Amaala represents a unique and transformational luxury experience,” Naples said in the statement, adding that it would include cultural, artistic, fashion and sports facilities “individually tailored for the ultra-luxury lifestyle”.

Projects like NEOM and Amaala are part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030, an effort to diversify the economy and wean the world’s top crude exporter off oil revenues.

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