AlUla, Saudi Arabia, 13 August, 2019: In accordance with the vision for AlUla of His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Chairman of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), the transformation of AlUla’s Prince Abdulmajeed Bin Abdulaziz Airport and the Maraya Concert Hall has begun under the leadership of Minister of Culture and Governor of RCU Prince Badr bin Farhan Al-Saud and will finish by the end of this year. A long-term tree-planting initiative in AlUla has also been launched in alignment with the vision.The development projects were visited by the AlUla Coordination Council and the RCU CEO Amr AlMadani to review the progress underway and discuss the positive impacts they will create in the AlUla community, like increased connectivity and economic diversification.
The airport development project will transform AlUla’s domestic airport into an aviation hub developed in line with international standards that can welcome guests from around the world with an increase in capacity from 100,000 passengers to over 400,000 a year, marking an important step in the RCU’s overall aim to accommodate two million tourists by 2035.
Development of the airport will include the construction of an extended apron area that can accommodate more aircrafts. A new executive lounge will also be constructed, new digital information systems will be added to both the departures and arrivals areas, and further interior and exterior design changes will be made to the terminal buildings using local material from AlUla.
With a new taxiway already planned for completion in quarter one of 2020 to meet the growing demand for efficient and easy access to AlUla, this transformation will ensure the airport can host future international flights and allow direct access from regional and other potential global destinations.
Commenting on the transformation of the AlUla Airport, His Highness Prince Badr said: “Expanding critical infrastructure, such as AlUla’s Prince Abdulmajeed Bin Abdulaziz Airport, in a sensitive and sympathetic way, is a central part of encouraging a diverse and dynamic tourism experience for the county in line with Vision 2030, enabling easier access to enable us to showcase our treasures to the world.“It will transform the airport facilities from a purely domestic airport to one that in the future has the infrastructure systems in place to welcome international flights. This investment will bring a significant boost to the community by better connecting its economy with the wider region, an important pillar of the RCU Charter. This construction is aligned with other project developments currently under way to make AlUla a truly global destination allowing people to experience this yet to be discovered masterpiece.”
The structural improvements and renovations to be made to the Maraya Concert Hall, the venue for the Winter at Tantora season, will result in a larger, permanent facility, seating over 500 people, based around a more refined design. The acoustics are being upgraded to operatic performance quality, a 500-seat restaurant is being created, along with an art exhibition space and a new rooftop terrace feature.
The mirrored walls of the structure, designed to form an extension of the environment by reflecting abstract views of the surrounding golden sands and mountains, will remain as an integral part of the Concert Hall’s design, which is the basis for its name as Maraya means mirror in Arabic.
Commenting on the Maraya Concert Hall changes, His Highness Prince Badr said: “The Maraya Concert Hall has already proven its credentials as a world-class venue during the first Winter at Tantora season. The enhancements taking place this year will cement this reputation still further, truly establishing it as a dynamic venue of choice for leading artists and performers nestled amongst an extraordinary natural backdrop.”
The day-long meeting with the AlUla Coordination Council also saw the commencement of a long-term initiative from His Highness to plant 10,000 trees in AlUla developed according to a sensitively designed landscaping plan, in line with the future masterplan, by the end of 2020. A wide range of community members volunteered in the inaugural planting of hundreds of trees in AlUla’s Wadi Ishaar, including students and young professionals already participating in several of the RCU’s economic and social development programmes, as well as the RCU employees and community leaders from AlUla.
Members of the AlUla Coordination Council were also updated on the progress and impact of several of the RCU’s innovative and ongoing programmes like the Scholarship Programme, which just announced the students from AlUla selected for the 330 scholarships available in the programme’s second phase, doubling the scholarships from phase one. This fall, these young people from AlUla will study in Australia, France, UK and US following the success of programme’s first year, which saw 166 students begin their studies in fields directly connected to the future of AlUla.
The AlUla Coordination Council was established by His Highness to create a body of AlUla’s leaders that can work together with the RCU to engage and ensure the community is closely involved in ongoing work and activities. This meeting further delivered on this commitment to work together with the people of AlUla to build the county’s future.