This month, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman launched a landmark project in the Kingdom’s historic region of Al Ula. The Sharaan Nature Reserve was announced as part of a series of major strategic projects being carried out by the Royal Commission of For Al Ula (RCU). From its scale to its purpose, here are a few things you need to know about the upcoming project:
1. It’s large and mostly inspired by Al Ula’s landscape.
Sharaan has been designed to be a 925-square kilometer space in the middle of Al Ula’s rocky landscape and archaeologically rich surroundings. Inside the reserve will also be a luxury retreat called Sharaan Resort, located among the rocks deep in a valley offering residential estates, a summit center, a spa, and restaurants. Specifically, the destination, which is being designed by Jean Nouvel, the French architect who also designed the stunning Louvre Abu Dhabi, will consist of 25 suites, 10 pavilions, and five resort-style residential estates, as well as 40 additional residential estates and an international summit center.
2. Its focus is on natural integrity and diversity.
According to the NEOM Project News website, the launch of Sharaan Natue Reserve falls under the umbrella of “Vision of Al-Ula” launched by RCU, which seeks to transform the region responsibly in order to balance the protection of its natural and cultural heritage, as well as the Kingdom’s ambitious projects to prepare the region for visitors from all over the world. Based on this overall vision, the canyon area where Sharaan is to be located has been designated a nature reserve. In addition to that, the project includes the establishment of a fund entitled "The Global Fund for the Arabian Leopard" that will be used to ensure that Sharaan becomes a suitable area for releasing and reintroducing the Arabian Leopard, as well as protecting it. Finally, the project will focus on the rehabilitation of Al Ula’s natural ecosystem and the development of vegetation by planting indigenous acacia trees.
3. It already has some impressive animals roaming in it.
During the launch event in mid-February, local park rangers trained by the Saudi Wildlife Authority together with the Mweka Wildlife College in Tanzania released 10 Nubian ibexes, 10 red-necked ostriches, and 20 Idmi gazelles into Shabaan Nature Reserve.