As often happens in Arabian tales, a magical palace miraculously appears in the sands of the desert, surprising casual travelers with its grandeur. But in the case of the NEOM project, not everything is so literal. The NEOM nature, its potential, and wealth is not limited solely to its abundance of oil and other fossil fuels. The fact is that the desert and the coastal part of Saudi Arabia along the Red Sea are very attractive to tourists and offer pristine natural beauty.
The nature of NEOM, therefore, has a huge potential to attract the attention of the international community. This is due not only to the promised technological miracles and opportunities for the self-realization of creative people, but also the magic of nature, as well as the flavor of local people who have created a culture rich in traditions.
The nature of NEOM
The metropolis is planned to be built in the northwestern part of Saudi Arabia, in the Tabuk region bordering Egypt and Jordan. A significant part of this metropolis will be located on the shores of the Red Sea, which will allow the Neomeans to compete for tourists in the largest resorts in the region. The project area is approximately 26,500 square km. Let’s take a closer look at the possibilities that lie at the heart of this miracle of nature.
The main wealth of these territories is undoubtedly the Red Sea, which, like a magnet, attracts tourists to its warm waters, even in Winter, the sea temperature does not drop below +20 ° C, and in Summer it stays at +27 ° C soft, clean sand and a variety of marine flora and fauna. In species diversity, as well as the beauty of corals and fish, the Red Sea surpasses all other seas of the Northern Hemisphere.
The unique underwater world is bewitching to the guests of the local resorts. Napoleon fish, angelfish, barracuda, butterflyfish, clownfish, bottle-nosed dolphin, killer whale, moray eel, sea cucumber, sea urchin, green turtle – these are only a handful of coastal inhabitants to be found around every corner.
This splendor can be witnessed all day long. Not only the sea but the desert itself can be seen as a magnet for tens of thousands of visitors. Moreover, the Saudis have already learned how to turn sand into money. Among locals and visitors to the country, a picturesque region called Al-Ula is very popular, which, for the second year in a row has received visitors to the cultural festival called the “Winter at Tantora”.
Landscapes around NEOM
This area is picturesque, with countless monuments of long-forgotten civilizations, harmoniously complementing the natural beauty of the area. Extraterrestrial landscapes are littered with petroglyphs, in which the unsolved stories of ancient nations are encrypted.
Al-Ula has amassed powerful creative energy that will inspire generations of dreamers and intellectuals. In addition to futuristic architecture, the area is fast becoming one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the Middle East.
Desert and semi-desert landscapes of the NEOM part of Saudi Arabia now and then alternate with lava fields on which wormwood and astragalus grow. Saline marshes are distinguished by an abundance of halophytic shrubs. In saline areas, there are tamarisk thickets. Poplars and acacias can be found in the dry beds of the wadi (Valley in English – وادي ).
Wet seasons of the year give the ground a thicker vegetation cover due to the existence of ephemerals which can be glimpsed only when the ground has wet enough conditions. The mountainous areas of Asir are rich in olives, acacias, almonds, citrus fruits, palms, and bananas, as well as garden and grain crops.
The nature around NEOM – The fauna
The fauna of these lands is even more diverse. Travelers can encounter herds of gazelles, antelopes, and hyrax colonies, as well as wild donkeys and onagers, nimble hares, and a variety of rodents (gerbils, jerboas, ground squirrels, etc.). If you are lucky, in the Asira National Park, you may catch a glimpse of the rare Red Book species of oryx (oryx) and ibex.
There are also predatory animals including wolves, miniature fennec foxes, caracals, jackals, and hyenas. There is also no shortage of reptiles in the desert, which is also home to snakes, turtles, and lizards. And, not to be forgotten, of course, are the abundance of birds including kites, vultures, eagles, peregrine falcons, sand grouses, quails, pigeons, bustards, larks, and many others.
The natue of NEOM will delight environmentalists just as it will the outdoor enthusiasts and supporters of advanced technology.
It is fair to say that all the natural resources of this part of Saudi Arabia cannot be accommodated even within the framework of such a grandiose project as NEOM, therefore, the Saudis began the development of another ambitious program called AMAALA, the goal of which is also aimed at creating a positive image of the country’s tourism potentials on the world stage.
AMAALA – Riviera of the Middle East
A magnificent tourist project with an area of 4155 square km amazes the imagination and inspires planning for a luxurious vacation. Amaala destination is built on three core principles or pillars if you will – “Art and Culture”, “Health and Sport” and “Sun, Sea, and Island Lifestyle”. These plans will be implemented within the same program that launched the NEOM dream. This is a strategic step to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil reserves, in particular VISION 2030.
Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, inspired by the developments of other touristic countries, decided to begin reforming the local economy, culture, and infrastructure to meet world standards. Moreover, thanks to projects such as NEOM and AMAALA, he decided not only to break into the vanguard of the tourism business but also to raise the bar for quality to an unimaginably high level.
It is not surprising that the AMAALA project, which has just begun to be built on the shores of the Red Sea, has already achieved the status of the main Riviera of the Middle East as the competitors have not even come close to planning something of this scale and magnificence.
This mega-resort’s name is derived from the fusion of the Arabic word “hope”; and the ancient Sanskrit word “purity”. From the moment of its opening, AMAALA will be able to receive up to 2.5 million very wealthy tourists per year. Guests will be offered an exciting experience that they are unlikely to get at other resorts.
NEOM – a magnet for travelers
Unique historical heritage combined with unimaginable landscapes will allow travelers to immerse themselves in the best recreational and cultural experiences. The entire concept of VISION 2030 is thoroughly imbued with the ideas of environmental protection and harmonious human development, including good rest and recuperation.
Thus, AMAALA will attract hundreds of thousands of talented and free-thinking people, many of whom, after seeing the beauty and potential of Saudi Arabia, will wish to stay and live in this amazing country. For such immigrants or expats, the NEOM metropolis will be created in the neighborhood.
Commuting between these two mega-projects will be possible via the International Airport AMAALA, capable of receiving about 1 million travelers per year. Its construction is scheduled to be completed by 2023.
The principles of AMAALA and NEOM
The principles of sustainable development permeate all aspects of Amaali life. In order to make the switch to the use of progressive world technologies, and the entire program has been developed, and includes:
- One of the largest solar energy processing farms in the Persian Gulf
- Recycling plants
- Transport based on the use of renewable energy sources
- Landscape design using native Arabian species
- Organic farms that use sustainable farming practices
- A desalination plant that has minimal impact on the environment
- Treatment and reuse of wastewater in agriculture
- Organic farm TRIPLE BAY for the production and use of organic waste in agriculture
- Widespread use of biodegradable materials in all spheres of the national economy
Neomeans will also pay equal attention to the conservation of marine biodiversity. The Marine Life Institute at AMAALA will work with partners to integrate local and international research into the conservation of marine life.
Plans are in place to develop numerous educational projects, conduct oceanographic and marine research, and to develop and implement conservation initiatives that can then be applied to waters of Saudi Arabia and worldwide.
Through the partnership, AMAALA has identified four key areas of co-development and is committed to their implementation:
- 1. Coral reef management
- 2. Protection of species biodiversity
- 3. Compliance with marine protected areas
- 4. Elimination of contamination with synthetic polymers
NEOM – Cultural heritage
Even though NEOM is being created practically from scratch, the cultural potential of the region will allow the Neomeans and guests of the metropolis to fully satisfy the requests for the study of archaeological sites, providing the world with fascinating excursions to iconic places of the region.
The most famous historical monuments are the Masmak Fortress which was erected in the middle of the nineteenth century; the ruins of the ancient city of Ad-Diriyah which was the first capital of Saudi Arabia; the Madain-Saleh complex with the ruins of an ancient settlement; and many other memorable places.
VISION 2030 program is making a revolutionary breakthrough in international travel practice. As such, the rest of the world still knows very little about Saudi Arabia, but it is creating interest around the globe. Relying on the nature of NEOM and AMAALA should guide the Saudis to the leaders in attracting tourists and investments.
As the country has long been closed to tourists, almost all of these archaeological sites are opening to the world for the first time. Guests of the NEOM coast will enjoy the unique opportunity to discover the unexplored places of this great state.
The nature of NEOM, combined with a rich historical heritage and national flavor, give a high rating to the chances of success for this region to become a powerful recreational, scientific, and technical center that will attract the attention of millions of creative people, scientists, businessmen, and adventure seekers, for whom it will become a second home.