The masterplan will guide the first and most important phase of the sustainable development of AlUla. It focuses on the Ancient Oasis that is home to our core heritage sites. This is the heart of the action and will be divided into five districts: AlUla Old Town District, Dadan Distict, Jabal Ikmah District, Nabataean Horizon and Hegra Historical City, the kingdom’s first UNESCO Word Heritage site.
These will all be connected by a 20km green spine, the pedestrian-friendly Wadi of Hospitality.
The infrastructure plan will bring the buzz of activity to AlUla, from museums to open-air art galleries, and from an expanded international airport to a 46km Experiential and low-carbon Tram that carries visitors into AlUla by following the path of the old Hijaz Railway. For these visitors, there will be hotels and resorts with more than 5,000 room keys.
The ‘Journey Through Time’ Masterplan is an enormous opportunity for the local residents, as we bring them to the world and the world to them. Some will receive training as tour guides, and others as chefs trained at Ferrandi Paris. Already we are supporting the revival of traditional handicrafts and have invigorated the local dates festival. In time, thousands of people will find meaningful work at AlUla as we create jobs across new and vibrant sectors.
Revitalising AlUla’s legacy as a crossroads of culture set on the historic Incense Road, the arts will be valued as essential components of AlUla’s identity, quality of life and economy. In addition to the Kingdoms Institute, the Hegra Museum and the Perspective Galleries will be among the masterplan’s legacy projects.
Our critical path is embedded in our approach to sustainability. Our roadmap should and must encompasses economic, environmental and social sustainability at its core to move from responsible development to sustainable development.
Our pace is measured in years. The first phase of The Journey Through Time will take us to 2023, by which time we will have consolidated the five districts around the green spine. But full completion of the plan, including strengthening the surrounding villages, will take us to 2035. By that time, we expect to create 38,000 new jobs as we welcome two million visitors a year and contribute SAR120bn annually to the Saudi economy as part of its diversification under Vision 2030 and beyond into the future.
Our new masterplan is our map for this journey – and perhaps someday in the future, students of management history will look back on this moment and remember it as the beginning of something great and global: the revitalisation of AlUla, Saudi Arabia’s gift to the world.
Amr Almadani is the chief executive of the Royal Commission for AlUla