Construction & Real Estate

Saudi RCU signs key development projects with French groups

Saudi Arabia's Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has signed four agreements with French institutions - two in the cultural field and two in infrastructure sector - to support its strategy to present AlUla as a leading global destination for cultural and natural heritage, thus enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors.
The deals, which were signed during the recent visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to the kingdom, also included one for the Villa Hegra, a key development that introduces the iconic 'French villa' model into the Middle East.
The 15,100 sq m Villa Hegra will be a cluster of entities including the exclusive AlUla International College of Tourism & Hospitality, a 6,600 sq m lifestyle apartment-hotel, cultural centre, arts residence quarters and social club.
It will be a unique place where artists, writers and painters come together, representing a continuity of AlUla's legacy as a hub of commercial and cultural exchange. It will be respectful of the environment and history, and inclusive of local populations. 
Currently there are 11 iterations of the "Villa" worldwide, with seven in France and four overseas from Mexico to Rome, each showcasing the best of French and global culture.
The partnerships come as part of RCU's integrated development programme to transform AlUla into a global cultural and natural heritage destination and a gateway city offering an outstanding quality of life for residents and visitors.
Signing the agreements for Villa Hegra were Prince Badr bin Farhan Al Saud, Governor of the Royal commission for AlUla and Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs.
"The relationship between France and Saudi Arabia is built upon mutual recognition of the important of cultural exchange and development. Since the signing of our first agreements in 2018, we have worked together to create a new template for cultural diplomacy – one that puts the sharing of knowledge, expertise and resources at the fore and opens up new opportunities for the local community," said Amr AlMadani, Chief Executive Officer of RCU.
"The arrival of Villa Hegra at AlUla adds another layer to AlUla's legacy as a place for the world to come together," he added.
RCU also signed an exclusive agreement with the Ferrandi Paris Culinary Arts and Hospitality Institute to jointly create a Ferrandi-branded AlUla International College of Tourism & Hospitality to accelerate the long-term vision of establishing AlUla as the regional home of hospitality, tourism and the culinary arts.
The exclusive partnership will contribute to AlUla's strategy to become the primary knowledge and training hub for tourism, hospitality and culinary arts in the kingdom. 
By partnering with world-class institutions, it aims to attract and upskill international and local talent into industry professionals to lead the sectors growth in AlUla, stated the top official.
In addition to Villa Hegra and the Ferrandi Paris Culinary Arts and Hospitality Institute, RCU also signed agreements with Dassault Systèmes and RATP DeV Saudi Arabia, focused on delivering a city fit for the future – providing citizens, residents and tourists with an outstanding quality of life by streamlining and digitizing processes and delivering public transport and mobility operations.
With Dassault Systèmes, RCU has partnered on the creation of a digital twin – a digital copy of AlUla that will function as an important tool for planning, development, municipal operations, community and investor citizens and investors. The agreement builds on the efforts of RCU to develop an integrated geo-spatial database.
Similarly, the partnership with RATP DeV Saudi Arabia leverages the organisation's 120 years of transport operation in the development of a world class public transportation system in AlUla. 
The partnership will see RCU access the latest in mobility innovation and best practices in mobility operations and solutions, including autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles that meet the needs of locals and tourists alike.
AlMadani pointed out that AlUla was an experimental lab for the future of tourism. "By partnering with industry leading entities such as the Ferrandi Paris Culinary Arts and Hospitality Institute, Dassault Systèmes and RATP DeV Saudi Arabia, we can access their vast store of knowledge, industry know-how as well as research and innovation to build a destination that is not only a cultural and artistic haven and a benchmark for sustainable development but an economic engine for the industry," he added.-TradeArabia News Service