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English business magnate Richard Branson plans to invest in Saudi Arabia’s new tourism project.
The new initiative called the “Red Sea Project” will convert some islands of Saudi Arabia in the Red Sea into luxury beach resorts and hotels. Branson is the first foreign investor who pledged to support the project because he saw the Red Sea’s potential for tourism during a recent trip.
As the new destination is expected to attract international tourists, it will not automatically be subjected to some of the country’s laws, such as alcohol prohibition and restriction on women’s clothing. However, officials have not yet confirmed which policies will be implemented in the tourist zone.
The project is part of incumbent Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman’s economic game plan called “Vision 2030.” This strategy was designed to promote economic diversity in Saudi Arabia by reducing the country’s dependence on oil and shifting its focus to other industries such as tourism.
The Saudi Public Investment Fund will commit to the initial funding of the project, which is expected to kick off in September 2019. The Saudi government projects that the initiative will produce 35,000 jobs.
Apart from being the CEO of multinational corporation Virgin Group, Branson is widely known for investing in various technology start-ups. He recently invested in financial service and mobile payment company Square. According to Branson, the company appealed to him because it empowers entrepreneurship.
Branson has also made a name for himself as an advocate of human rights and climate change.