Saudia Arabia is reinventing itself for the future and as if it didn’t need a further project, has added a resort island to the build of its ambitious NEOM project.
What Is NEOM?
We have covered NEOM at least once before on this site when it announced plans for The Line. NEOM is a new smart city in northwest Saudi Arabia. Intended to be the world’s largest mega-city, NEOM is the culmination of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s “Vision 2030.” The intention is to build a “model for sustainable living, working, and prospering” powered by renewable energy with net zero carbon emissions.
NEOM Announces Sindalah, a Resort Island
Announced last week, the NEOM Sindalah project, a resort island to be built in the Red Sea accompanies its broader $500 billion investment (though as prior speculation detailed, it’s likely to exceed $1 trillion before this addition.) NEOM Sindalah island is not immediately located at NEOM mainland and will require a boat ride for transportation. Branded as the “future of luxury travel” it aims to become a yachting destination where travelers can better explore the diverse ecosystem. Its 86-berth marina will be a major step, the Kingdom feels, in making it a yacht club destination in the Red Sea.
With a model of the same initiatives of being green, hydrogen is among the power sources that will keep this clean energy development functional. Biodiversity and respect for the environment are key drivers in Sindalah’s marketing materials.
With all the trappings of refined luxury but scant details, Sindalah is no doubt the latest in an incredibly interesting and attractive draw to global elites. It boasts the following developments on the island:
- YACHT CLUB
- THE VILLAGE
- SPORTS CLUB
- BEACH CLUB
- GOLF COURSE
- SOUTH BEACH RESORT
- LUXURY RESORT
The luxury resort is said to have 50 suites and 16 villas; the golf course is nine holes.
Will This Lead to Reinvention?
When the Line was announced, this writer speculated on whether it would ever be built at all simply because of its ambitious plan and timeline. Adding an island component seems to further put both the timeline and the scope of the project in doubt. That said, if the Crown Prince is successful in his plan to build the entire project, I do, in fact, think that it will reshape Saudi Arabia.
The country has already announced a new $30 billion airline to launch next year, likely modeled after peers in the Middle East like Qatar, Emirates, and Etihad.
The question isn’t really whether a trillion-dollar build in the desert can come to fruition, we saw it first with Las Vegas, then Dubai – the model is not the issue. The question is whether the timeline will happen, and will Saudi Arabia be able to offer a modern experience for distinguishing luxury guests is a rather different question.
The UAE mostly turned a blind eye to the bars and booze that visitors demand contrary to their cultural norms. Saudi Arabia is arguably stricter, especially with regard to women’s rights. There has been some progress made for women but the next seven years (leading up to the planned opening) will be a significant moment for NEOM and the future of Saudi Arabia as well, of course, as for women.
What do you think? Will Sindalah become a tourist destination in the years to come? Will it (along with NEOM) change Saudi Arabia?