5 fun facts about the upcoming Sharaan Resort AlUla 

As the project begins construction, it looks set to be an architectural wonder.

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla is home to magnificent hotels, but one of the most intriguing projects is Sharaan Resorts. The French architect Jean Nouvel is behind the world’s first resort hidden within rocks, which will be located in the Sharaan Nature Reserve. As construction begins on the site, which is scheduled to open by 2024, here are five fun facts about the architectural wonder.

Welcome to the world’s first resort within rocks 

Sharaan Resort AlUla is taking its inspiration from the surroundings, such as the Nabatean carvings to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hegra, and turning it up to the max. There are not many resorts that can claim that they are being built into a mountain dating back 500 million years. Just as the Nabataean civilisation carved structures into nearby sandstone more than 2,000 years ago, Sharaan Resort will make the modern-day equivalent. The Royal Commission for AlUla has consulted with experts in mining and excavation on the development.

Jean explained: “AlUla is a museum. Every wadi and escarpment, every stretch of sand and rocky outline, every geological and archaeological site deserves the greatest consideration. It’s vital we keep all its distinctiveness and conserve its attractiveness, which largely rests on its remote and occasionally archaic character. We have to safeguard a little mystery as well as the promise of discoveries to come.”

Sharaan Resort AlUla 

The resort is designed by a superstar – or should we say rock star – architect

Jean hails from Fumel, France. If his other designs are anything to go on, Sharaan Resort will be one of the region’s most stunning sites. He is no stranger to the Middle East, as he is behind amazing architecture, from the Louvre Abu Dhabi to The National Museum of Qatar in Doha. Pierre-Eric Saint-André, Deputy CEO of Bouygues Construction, shared: “The bold vision of Jean Nouvel’s architectural firm – with whom we have already had the opportunity to work on the Paris Philharmonic Center for example – is a great source of inspiration for us, since the technical prowess it requires are absolutely unique and incredibly stimulating.”

So far, we know that Jean will create a spatial and sensorial experience, which combines nature, architecture and art. Priding himself on the finer details, it aims to make every aspect, from a chopped stone to a granular of rock, a work of art. Jean added: “Our project is celebrating the Nabateans spirit without caricaturing it. This creation genuinely becomes a cultural act.”

The project aims to rebuild wildlife in Sharaan Nature Reserve

Covering a rocky 925 square kilometres landscape, the area is home to animals ranging from ibex to ostriches. The project hopes to re-establish plants and wildlife in the area. Thanks to the recent work, Arabian wolves, red foxes and gazelles have already been spotted on the land. Even endangered Arabian leopards have been spotted. Sharaan hopes to restore the ecosystem to such a point that the animals can be reintroduced into the environment.

Sharaan Resort AlUla 

The resort is being built in a sustainable way 

Sharaan Resort aligns with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and the Sustainability Charter for AlUla. The features include a natural geological heat transfer, which efficiently cools the property in summer and provide warmth in the winter. Plus, a zero wastewater system, and recycling of treatable wastewater.

Mohammed Altheeb, RCU Chief Development and Construction Officer, said: “Sharaan resort is our most ambitious project currently under construction. The resort was designed with complete reverence for the human and natural history of AlUla, and we are committed to sustainable building practices in line with this same philosophy”. 

Sharaan by Jean Nouvel

… and there will be an International Summit Centre

 It’s not just about Sharaan Resort, as RCU also announced that construction is underway for the International Summit Centre. The centre will also be designed by Jean, and it will be inside an adjacent mountain. As the name suggests, it aims to hold international events with world leaders. Thanks to its secure, private location, it would be ideal for political summits. The International Summit Centre’s facilities include an auditorium, meeting rooms, majlis, library, and a sport and leisure area. Plus, it will have 13 hospitality pavilions, and two nearby private villas.

Sharaan Resort AlUla 

GO: Visit for more information. 

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Kohinoor Sahota - Deputy Editor
A sucker for a good story, if you invite Kohinoor to a gallery, comedy night, new restaurant, hiking trip, cycle ride, pool day or just about any activity, she’ll probably say yes – that is if she isn’t busy planning her next adventure.

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