Saudi Arabia is planning a mega tourism project on the Red Sea

Saudi Arabia is intending to transform hundreds of kilometres of its Red Sea coastline into a luxury tourist destination. The Red Sea Project, launched by the government this month, covers a 200-kilometre stretch of the Red Sea roughly opposite the Egyptian city of Marsa Alam.
Between the cities of Al-Wadsch and Umludsch, some 50 hitherto uninhabited islands are to become part of the mega project. A promotional video by the Saudi Investment Fund shows white sandy beaches, deep blue sea and pristine waters for scuba divers.
The Red Sea project is set to cover around 34,000 square kilometres – an area about the same size as Belgium. The new holiday region will be semi-autonomous, making visa-free entry possible for tourists from most countries.
It remains unclear whether Saudia Arabia’s strict clothing rules and customs might be relaxed for international tourists – namely, whether women will be able to wear bikinis, and whether alcohol might be served.
Construction is due to start in 2019, with the infrastructure, harbours, airports and first luxury hotels set to be ready by 2022.
The project is part of an effort to broaden the economic base of the country, which is currently heavily dependent on oil and gas. Tourism officials are hoping to attract around one million tourists per year by 2035. — dpa