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Red Sea Global and ACWA Power create more than 20 acres of new wetlands in line with Saudi Arabia’s climate action

Red Sea Global and ACWA Power create more than 20 acres of new wetlands in line with Saudi Arabia’s climate action

Biodiversity solution will eventually treat 16,000m3 of wastewater a day and create a natural carbon sink.

Red Sea Global (RSG), the multi-project developer behind the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism destinations, has partnered with Saudi-listed ACWA Power, the world’s largest private water desalination company and leader in energy transition, to develop more than 20 acres (83,367m2) of new wetlands through its sustainable approach to utilities.

The announcement was made today at the Saudi Green Initiative Forum and contributes to the Oil Sustainability Program’s effort to spearhead a sustainable and reliable materials transition that supports the implementation of polymer-based solutions in the building and infrastructure sectors. The program is also leading a national initiative for constructed wetland development in the Kingdom, due to its advantages to sustainable biodiversity, in line with the Saudi Green Initiative goals. The wastewater facility at The Red Sea destination recently reached the milestone of treating 8,000m3 of effluent every day and its wetlands are now regularly attracting wildlife including Barn Swallows, Blue Rock Thrushes and Black Winged Kites.

“Our approach to utilities was designed to minimize impacts and waste by focusing on renewable power and reusing or recycling everything in the process. As part of this, we have created new wetlands that are today attracting birds and other wildlife – a true expression of regenerative tourism. This is a demonstration of what can be achieved when you take decisions for people and planet over short term profit,” said John Pagano, Group CEO at Red Sea Global.

Marco Arcelli, Chief Executive Officer at ACWA Power, said: ““Being at the forefront of the energy transition in the utilities sector, we are delighted to collaborate with like-minded partners such as Red Sea Global in this unique wetland initiative. We always look for potential of new sustainability solutions, and this project proves how a power and water firm can make a difference and actively contribute to circular economy solutions.”

The wetland approach to sewage treatment starts at the screening stage to remove solid matter. After this, effluent is sent to the 20-acre wetland site made up of phragmite plants, a type of common reed, which naturally absorb the nutrients and metals, treating the water without the need for chemicals.

Once treated and meeting the national regulation for water quality, the Treated Sewage Effluent (TSE) is transferred to RSG’s Landscape Nursery, the largest in the Middle East at more than 1,000,000m2, to irrigate the trees and shrubs. To date, more than five million plants have been grown to landscape its destinations, and 30 million will be grown by 2030.

When the phragmite reeds grow too long or stop effective water treatment, they are pruned, and the ends are sent to an Integrated Waste Management Facility. Here they are recycled and with other waste materials, made into bricks for the destination.

The project showcases the Oil Sustainability Program’s continuous innovation in supporting the transition to renewable energy and reduced CO2 emissions, ensuring a reliable and diverse energy supply, and creating a variety of sustainable and reliable polymer-based applications that safeguard standards and development requirements.

Mohammad Al Tayyar, Program Director, the Oil Sustainability Program, said: “Constructed wetlands are an ecological, polymer-based, sustainable solution for water treatment that have great advantages over conventional treatment methods. The advantages are evident in terms of CO2 sequestration, biodiversity preservation, and localization of advanced materials, showcasing the constructed wetland’s environmental and economic edge compared to other solutions. This is considered the largest municipal domestic wastewater facility in the world powered solely by renewable energy. However, to make this achievement possible, innovative materials such as liners and piping are integral in our work towards establishing sustainable solutions for the future. ”

By mid-2024, the sewage treatment facility will reach its ultimate design capacity of treating 16,000m3 of wastewater per day, which will lead to 40 acres (170,000m2) of new nature-based carbon solutions being constructed.

The Red Sea destination recently welcomed its first guests. Two of its hotels are open for bookings and the Red Sea International Airport has been receiving a regular schedule of flights since September. Upon full completion in 2030, the destination will comprise 50 resorts, offering up to 8,000 hotel rooms and more than 1,000 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites. The destination will also include luxury marinas, golf courses, entertainment, F&B, and leisure facilities.

About Red Sea Global

Red Sea Global (RSG – is a closed joint-stock company wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia.

RSG is a global multi-project developer, seeking to lead the world towards a more sustainable future, showing how responsible and development can uplift communities, drive economies, and enhance the environment.  The protection of natural capital is central to all development decisions, as the organization seeks to create a better future for all.

A cornerstone of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 ambition to diversify its economy, RSG is playing a key role in transforming the nation, by creating exciting opportunities for young Saudi talent and the private sector, as it develops built assets and destinations across multiple sectors that make a positive impact for people and planet.

RSG is the visionary company behind some of the world’s most ambitious development ventures, including luxury regenerative tourism destinations such as The Red Sea, Amaala and Thuwal Private Retreat. It has also been entrusted with refurbishment works at Al Wajh Airport, focused on upgrading the existing terminal and infrastructure, and building a new international terminal.

Across its portfolio, RSG leverages the most innovative concepts, strategies, and technologies to deliver projects.

About ACWA Power

ACWA Power (TADAWUL:2082) is a Saudi-listed company and the world’s largest private water desalination company, the first mover into green hydrogen, and a leader in energy transition. Registered and established in 2004 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, ACWA Power employs over 4,000 people and is currently present in 12 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia and Southeast Asia. ACWA Power’s portfolio comprises 77 projects in operation, advanced development, or construction with an investment value of SAR 310. 5 billion (USD 82.8 billion), and the capacity to generate 53.69 GW of power and manage 7.64 million m3/day of desalinated water per day, delivered on a bulk basis to address the needs of state utilities and industries on long term, off-taker contracts under utility services outsourcing and Public-Private-Partnership models. Learn more:

About the Oil Sustainability Program

The Oil Sustainability Program works to ensure and support the environmental and economic efficiency of hydrocarbons through sustainable approachs that encourage the integration between multiple industries on both a national and international level. The Program continously works to honor the Kingdom’s ongoing work towards addressing and supporting climate pledges and UN Sustainable Development Goals.