Saudi Arabia to Build Resort in Middle of Desert

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. heritage / ˈhɛr ɪ tɪdʒ / (n) – the history, traditions, and practices of a particular group or country

    The temples and shrines are part of the country’s rich heritage.

  2. accentuate / ækˈsɛn tʃuˌeɪt / (v) – to emphasize something

    Her hairstyle accentuated the shape of her face.

  3. unaltered / ʌnˈɔl tərd / (adj) – not changed from its original state

    All our photographs are unaltered. We don’t use any photo-editing software.

  4. world-renowned / ˈwɜrld rɪˈnaʊnd / (adj) – famous around the world

    A number of world-renowned chefs are planning to open restaurants in the new luxury hotel.

  5. touch / tʌtʃ / (n) – a small amount of something

    The jukebox gave the restaurant a vintage touch.


Read the text below.

Saudi Arabia has announced its plans to build a luxury resort within a sandstone hill in the Al-Ula Desert.

The resort, called Sharaan, was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. Its architecture was inspired by the buildings of the ancient city of Hegra, which is Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site. Just like buildings from the old city, the hotel was designed to use light and shadow to accentuate its features.

The new tourist destination is set to welcome guests by 2023. It will have 40 guest rooms and three resort villas. Among its notable features is an 80-meter-high glass elevator that lets guests see the layers of rock inside of the sandstone hill. Each hotel room will also have a balcony that overlooks the desert landscape.

Nouvel will be supervising the resort’s construction. The project is one of the country’s initiatives aimed at rebranding itself as a tourist destination. Currently, the country is not very popular among travelers, except for those who visit for business or religious purposes.

The project was planned in collaboration with the Royal Commission for Al-Ula. The commission was established in 2017 to protect the Al-Ula Desert, which has remained unaltered for thousands of years.

In an official statement, the government said it believes that Sharaan will be a world-renowned destination. The resort’s architect added that he aims to give the desert environment a modern touch while still celebrating its historic past and heritage.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Would you like to visit a hotel in the middle of a desert? Why or why not?
• Aside from hotels, what other tourist attractions can be built in the middle of a desert? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Do you agree that adding modern elements to ancient areas/sites is a good idea? Why or why not?
• What do you think are other ways to make landmarks or historical sites interesting for tourists? Discuss.