A true treasure in the midst of the desert
Majestic. There is no better word to define the AlUla region. This vast desert area in the province of Medina is characterised by dunes as far as the eye can see, rocky plateaux and shades of red, ochre and brown, tinting the stone. Near the Hegra site, a genuine archaeological site classified as a World Heritage, it is one of the regions of Saudi Arabia where archaeologists have uncovered the most finds over the centuries. The country, located where continents meet, still bears the imprint of a multitude of cultures, making AlUla an exceptional site.
To open up this rare heritage to the world, several years ago the Royal Commission for AlUla launched a programme to transform the region into a leading cultural and tourist destination. The ambition for 2030? To make AlUla the country's cultural capital through the development of archaeological, cultural and tourist complexes that resemble open-air museums.
A complex project at the heart of a royal reserve
As part of this programme, supported by the French Agency for the Development of Alula (Afalula), Bouygues Travaux Publics and Bouygues Bâtiment International, working as part of a consortium with Almabani, are building Sharaan Resort I, a luxury hotel complex and international conference centre in the heart of the Sharaan desert. Designed by the famous architect Jean Nouvel, who is also behind the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Philharmonie de Paris, this extraordinary project will create troglodyte rooms built into the rock. The architect was inspired by the Nabataeans, a nomadic Arab people who left behind magnificent relics (tombs, religious monuments, banqueting halls) in the rock of this region.
Around thirty guest rooms will be built in addition to the international conference centre, and the whole complex is destined to become, like Camp David, a prime meeting place for world leaders.
The project is a real engineering challenge, and will be built in three phases:
• 12-month ECI (Early Contractor Involvement) for phase one, as well as the supporting structure: given the unique nature of the project, this contract will test the feasibility in terms of cost and schedule
• Technical and architectural developments
- 35,000-m2 hotel complex
- 12,000-m2 conference centre
- 2 million tourists expected in the region in 2030
- creation of 38,000 jobs by 2030
Special attention paid to preserving the site
The AlUla region has signed a partnership agreement with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) to ensure the best possible preservation of its historical, natural and cultural sites. The complex will comply with extremely strict specifications so as not to damage the historic footprint of the site, while allowing tourists to discover its treasures.