As part of the country’s dream of becoming a hotbed for tourism by 2030, Saudi Arabia’s visionary Amaala Island is a newly conceived ultra-luxury destination complete with galleries, artist studios and sculpture gardens. Samuel Ballard reports
Amaala Island, which will be off the north-west coast of Saudi Arabia, will form part of the kingdom’s “Saudi Vision 2030” – an ambitious plan that was first revealed by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in 2016.
Last autumn, the country opened its doors to international tourists with new visitor visas, as well as relaxing its dress code for foreign women.
Set in the Prince Mohammad bin Salman Nature Reserve, the 5,617 sq km island will be home to an “exclusive art community” and will include a contemporary art gallery and academy, as well as an Arabic botanical garden filled with sculptures.
In close proximity to Riyadh, Dubai and Istanbul, it is hoped it will become the “Riviera of the Middle East”. Denniston, a Malaysia-based consultancy, has been revealed as the master planner of island, which will also have 2,500 hotel rooms and more than 800 residential villas, apartments and homes. The plan is to add 200 shops, restaurants and recreation offerings, too.Amaala Island will have three communities: the Island, with its gallery, academy, working studios and artisanal shops; the Coastal Development for events; and Triple Bay, which will act as a wellness retreat complete with state-of-the-art diagnostic facilities.Jean-Michel Gathy, the principal designer of Denniston, says: “The island development will be an immersive and interactive art-inspired jewel. Its lifestyle components, its landscaping, the museums, and art installations together with the art community will transform this island into the “Diamond of the Red Sea”.“It will feature many different venues for permanent installations or temporary exhibitions and artistic performances. The graphic layout of its spine will be distinctive from the air and will be recognised internationally as an iconic landmark. The project features all elements programmed and reflects the areas, numbers and facilities. This is truly unique, nothing like it has ever been planned before.”Nicholas Naples, the chief executive officer of Amaala Island, said: “Amaala carves a unique positioning within the global hospitality portfolio, catering to select travellers looking for innovative experiential escapes. Our ambition is to create personalised experiences, catering to the individual needs of each guest.“Entrenched in the philosophies of art, wellness, and inspired by the purity of the Red Sea, we are excited to be working alongside Jean-Michel Gathy and Denniston to bring to life our vision for the Island. It is here where our guests will embark on a transformational journey and feed the soul through arts and cultural offerings, with opportunities for philanthropic art co-creation.”
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