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RIYADH: The world’s first integrated family wellness destination along Saudi Arabia’s northwest Red Sea coast had cause for celebration as environmentalists marked the United Nations’ World Water Day, which this year is themed “Groundwater – Making the Invisible Visible” on Tuesday.

AMAALA, as the project is known, is set to complete its initial phase of development by the end of 2024 by opening nine hotels. The goal is to provide a tourist experience without using groundwater in its spas.

Extending over 4,155 km2, the project will feature a unique heritage and landscape, pristine ecosystems and state-of-the-art facilities.

Although the heart and soul of a luxury spa is the natural water of the region, according to its Director of Wellness Stephan Wagner, AMAALA will not compromise the sustainability of wellness experiences.

“In line with AMAALA’s sustainability commitments, all assets, including spas, must meet corporate regeneration targets,” he advised.

Stephan Wagner, Wellness Director, AMAALA

Speaking of water – the main component as a natural resource in wellness centers and spas – it will apparently be well used in designs and treatments at AMAALA. Wagner enthusiastically explained how wellness centers and spas will be used for treatment.

“For thousands of years now, people have used the power of water to cure ailments, detoxify, improve their appearance and pamper themselves,” he explained.

“The culture of therapeutic bathing dates back more than 3,000 years. Water is a healing agent and bathing in it for 15 minutes or more is literally a cure. Minerals can be absorbed through the skin barrier such as magnesium, zinc, potassium or sulphur, which helps relieve muscle and joint pain. We will design unique mineral bath circuits, floating pools with underwater sound systems and vitality pools with underwater massage jets,” he added.

Asked how often the multi-sensory experience of clean water, which is very good for psycho-physiological well-being, will help attract more tourists, Wagner replied: “In addition to the swimming pool and bathing characteristics in resorts, we will encourage guests to swim and soak in AMAALA’s private pristine lagoons and beaches.”

The wellness manager was also eager to talk about the spa, which he hoped would be a big attraction for tourists who want to relax and relieve their muscles.

“The word spa in Latin means Sanus per Aquam, which means health through water,” he said. “If you are in good health, the water can still improve your health and if you suffer from ailments, our medical and wellness staff will advise you on the swimming pools and treatments that are best for you.”

Inspired by the arts, wellness and purity of the Red Sea, the luxury destination hidden in plain sight aims to redefine the definition of ‘wellness’. It will be, unsurprisingly, a place of self-transformation.

The people behind the project hope it will be an additional boon to the Kingdom’s economy and could create up to 50,000 jobs in the future.

As an important driver of domestic and foreign direct investment, driving economic growth and job creation, AMAALA will support the diversification of the leisure and tourism industry in Saudi Arabia.