The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has signed two landmark strategic partnerships that will further accelerate the regeneration of AlUla as it moves from the planning stage to implementation following the launch of its masterplan in April, 2021.
The agreements with AECOM and an international French consortium comprising Egis, Assystem and Setec set out a comprehensive development timeline based around three phases that lead up to 2035.
Phase 1 development amounts to SAR 57+ Bn / USD 15+ Bn invested in AlUla’s core 20km historical area. This incorporates social, economic and sustainability projects in five unique hubs with a focus on infrastructure, hospitality, arts & culture, and social and community development.
Signing the agreements at the fifth edition of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh, RCU CEO Amr AlMadani said: “These new long-term strategic partnerships are critical to realising our ambition of creating a global benchmark for sustainable tourism. Our new partners will be instrumental in helping us deliver a detailed and certified plan. While our focus is set on Phase 1, we will ramp up our integrated approach towards the development of Phases 2 and 3 to drive traffic and sustain a regular flow of tourists in the long run.
“As we develop infrastructure and other assets that will help to establish AlUla as an exciting business hub servicing the northwest Arabia region, we require world-class partners such as these who will be with us for the long haul and who share our desire to benefit the people of AlUla while creating unforgettable experiences for visitors.”
These partnerships will accelerate business and investment opportunities from 2022 onwards and demonstrate the pace of progress to revitalise AlUla as a responsible, sustainable and community-inclusive destination.
AECOM President Lara Poloni said: “AlUla is one of the world’s largest and most complex development projects, home to more than 30,000 sites of historical significance, and we are proud to help realize the city’s vision for the future. In partnership with RCU, we look forward to leveraging our global program management and technical expertise to deliver a sustainable legacy that transforms AlUla for generations to come.”
AECOM will provide a range of integrated services across the entire AlUla program. These include executive-level program management to integrate all workstreams and major initiatives across RCU to implement the AlUla vision and outcomes, as well as a project delivery office that will work with RCU to implement best practices and delivery from design to construction and operation.
AECOM will also lead all design activities from setting standards, delivering the digital ecosystem, leading innovation, managing designers and delivering scopes. Further, asset and facilities management will be provided for the project lifecycle along with the benchmarking and development of smart city plans and projects.
Creating opportunities for the local community is a core aspect of AlUla’s development plan and AECOM’s approach. AECOM has already invested in training 400 residents to achieve professional vocational qualifications and will provide additional professional skills development and knowledge transfer opportunities both for residents and those relocating to AlUla for work.
Speaking on behalf of the French consortium, Egis Group CEO Laurent Germain said: “Our three highly regarded firms - Egis, Assystem and Setec - are unified, committed and eager to showcase our capabilities. As longstanding members of the Saudi business community, we are excited to be part of the development of AlUla.”
The French Agency for the Development of AlUla (Afalula) was instrumental in bringing together the French consortium. Afalula Executive Chairman Gérard Mestrallet said: “Today’s agreement deepens the Saudi-Franco partnership at AlUla and across other projects in Saudi Arabia. It also attests to the depth and strength of French engineering and infrastructure expertise to confront the most challenging aspects of responsible and sustainable development.”
The Egis-led consortium brings infrastructure programme management and construction management capabilities to support on-time delivery of AlUla’s most urgent projects and long-term development. As such, it offers a new perspective on infrastructure delivery defined by a coordinated approach. A core team will be based in AlUla including high-level specialists for engineering, construction and operations management and a range of international experts to bridge any knowledge gaps.
AECOM and the French consortium share the values of AlUla’s Sustainability Charter which, through its 12 principles of sustainability, will empower the realisation of a carbon-neutral strategy and circular economy. It will also establish robust and resilient policies for the development of AlUla’s heritage and environmental targets fuelled by renewable energy with 500-plus megawatts of clean power capacity. By 2035 renewable energy will supply 50 percent of demand.
Since unveiling its Journey through time masterplan in April 2021, the RCU has made significant progress on its journey to developing AlUla as a living museum while diversifying the economy and creating a vibrant community.
USD 2 Bn has been invested in key development projects including expanding AlUla International Airport, completing the stunning and architecturally awarded Maraya multi-se venue, completing water and power-plant infrastructure in the Ashar Valley, and bolstering AlUla County’s security infrastructure.
Upon completion of the development strategy in 2035, RCU envisions the emerging city of AlUla defined by a thriving community and its ability to support residents’ ambitions, where service excellence is the norm and creativity drives a culture of adaptability and flexibility.
By 2035 RCU forecasts that the population will more than triple to 130,000 with 38,000 new jobs created and AlUla contributing SAR 120 Bn (USD 32 Bn) to Saudi Arabia’s GDP. Additionally, 80 percent of AlUla County will be home to nature reserves, with key flora and fauna reintroduced.
Source: Hill+Knowlton Strategies