How Red Sea Global is bringing Saudi talent to the world

Global Insights
25 October 2022 Riyadh, KSA
  • Tourism group, formerly The Red Sea Development Company, has an expanded mandate and potential to work on projects outside Saudi Arabia.
  • Red Sea Global, which aims to be the world leader in responsible development, aligns with Saudi Vision 2030.
  • The PIF-owned organization supports Saudization through programs that nurture talent.
To reflect its international potential, the PIF-owned developer behind two of the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism projects, THE RED SEA and AMAALA, today confirmed its transformation into Red Sea Global (RSG). The group, formerly The Red Sea Development Company, made the announcement on the sidelines of the sixth Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh.
“Last year, our mandate increased to include another dozen or so projects up and down the west coast of Saudi Arabia,” John Pagano, Group CEO of Red Sea Global, told PIF Global Insights. “So it seemed appropriate to have a different name for the group.”
The developer’s directive now includes more than five projects either under feasibility study, entering masterplan competition phase, or under construction, with THE RED SEA tourism destination on track to welcome its first visitors in early 2023. 
The expanded mandate also includes the launch of a series of subsidiary businesses to boost Saudi tourism, from the establishment of a seaplane company through to hospitality and guest experience brands. These companies will allow RSG to maintain its responsibility standards in development and operations, with the potential to expand beyond Saudi Arabia in the future.
“The announcement today marks the start of our evolution into a truly global developer that can lead the category towards a new archetype for development. We are powered by extraordinary people from the Kingdom and beyond, and have the skills, knowledge, and experience required to succeed on the world stage,” said Pagano.
“We are not only expanding our footprint to help create massive economic opportunities – valued at tens of billions worth of riyals – for the people of Saudi Arabia. We also want to set new global standards in development and inspire the industry to do better.”
So far, RSG – which boasts a mix of Saudi and international talent – has awarded more than 1,300 contracts worth nearly SAR32 bn ($8.5 bn), with approximately 70% of the total value awarded to Saudi companies.
“It’s a real confluence of expertise and knowledge exchange and it’s a wonderful experience for everybody engaged in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Pagano said. “We’re onboarding at the rate of over 100 employees a month. People want to be part of this journey, they want to be part of this experience. And we have 50% Saudization.” 
This is supported by an Elite Graduate Program, now entering its fourth year, and which has so far enrolled 120-plus Saudi graduates through a comprehensive system of placement and on-the-job training. Meanwhile, a partnership with the University of Prince Mergin has provided 120 scholarships for undergraduate studies. 
“We have the youngest and brightest Saudi students, who are educated in the best universities in the Kingdom and around the globe, who will start their journey delivering one of the flagship tourism projects for the Kingdom,” Pagano said.
It’s not surprising that young Saudis want to be part of RSG’s ambitions to put their country on the international tourism map. Strongly aligned with Vision 2030, the nation’s economic strategy, RSG is committed to a 30% increase in the net conservation value of its first destination. Its approach includes off-site manufacturing and modular construction methods at scale, green concrete to limit emissions, destination-wide clean mobility strategies, and sustainable food production.
Earlier this year, the company released the findings of one of the world’s largest environmental surveys of wildlife ecosystems in the Red Sea area. Other plans include a ban on single-use plastics, and the world’s largest battery storage facility, which forms part of THE RED SEA’s own utilities infrastructure, enabling the entire site to be powered by renewable energy 24 hours a day.
“If I can leave behind an organization that will go on to do bigger and better things that are Saudi-led – which ultimately is the right thing to do – that will be the greatest satisfaction of all,” Pagano said. “There are many opportunities where we can bring the combination of our acquired expertise with the financial backing of PIF to development, in terms of how we work in harmony with our planet and the environment. We could look at Egypt, for example, or other regional destinations could benefit. The world is our oyster.”