Prince Mohammed bin Salman has revealed plans for a luxury beach resort where special laws allow women to wear bikinis instead of covering up their skin.
The new heir to the throne unveil this as part of his drive to modernise the Saudi economy, knowing that foreign visitors are unlikely to come to beaches where women are forced to cover up in an abaya – a robe-like dress.
The government said the luxury Red Sea resort will be located on a stretch of coast line in the country’s northwest will be “governed by laws on par with international standards”.
In their response, the Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund described the project as an “exquisite luxury resort destination established across 50 untouched natural islands”.
“The Red Sea project will be a luxury resort destination situated across the islands of a lagoon and steeped in nature and culture.
“It will set new standards for sustainable development and bring about the next generation of luxury travel to put Saudi Arabia on the international tourism map,” the fund said.
According to the announcement, construction is set to begin in 2019 and the first phase of the project will be completed by 2022, with hope to host a million visitors a year by 2035.
The Saudi statement stressed that the project “will be an extremely safe and secure environment that will ensure the protection of all visitors in accordance with the highest international best practice”.
Adding that most foreigners will be able to fly straight into the tourism zone without a visa, another easing of Saudi law designed to make the resort more attractive.
Even though some foreign investors have applauded the young prince, others are of the opinion that the plan is unlikely to succeed. The Telegraph reported.
Prince Mohammed who is the son of the current king, Salman was crown prince in June after his older uncle, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, was stripped of the role.
Note that saudi Arabia’s own laws on women are among the most repressive in the world, where women are expected to cover their skin and hair when they are outside
Also, alcohol is banned under Saudi law and it is not clear if it will be allowed on the resort.